MotoGP: Aprilia unveils its 2021 RS-GP and livery in Qatar
Aprilia has unveiled its 2021 RS-GP MotoGP bike and its brand-new livery for the upcoming season.
The team presentation was held at turn one of the Losail International Circuit, with riders Aleix Espargaro and Lorenzo Savadori taking the covers off of the bike. All of the team were present and a tribute video to Fausto Gresini, who passed away last month following a two-month battle with Covid-19, got proceedings underway - Aprilia and Gresini Racing have been partners since 2015.
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Aprilia's livery has been altered over the winter and features a black, red and white design, with the majority of the green from 2020 being removed. Sky Q remains as the main sponsor, whilst Castrol has come onboard as a sponsor for the new campaign.
The wings on the RS-GP have Fausto written across them, with a love heart inside the O, in another touching tribute to the Italian.
The bike itself has also gone through some radical changes during the off-season, with Aprilia desperate to improve their results this year. There was plenty of hype surrounding last year's revamp, however the big jump forwards never came.
This year's model comes with a new aerodynamic package, new frame and carbon-fibre swingarm, new rear seat structure and new cylinder heads on the engine. There's also a new throttle-body system.
"2020 was definitely a good base, we have worked night and day throughout the winter to improve, on paper, all aspects of the bike," Aprilia technical director Romano Albesiano explained during the launch. "We also had the opportunity to test the basic concept of the bike at the end of last season. Everything seems to run okay, so we're really positive.
"We lacked some downforce last year, also because of the pandemic and rule change that happened, so now this year we've done a lot of work. This bike has a new aerodynamic concept, a very innovative concept that we're very proud of. The bike is based on 2020 but there are many substantial changes and refinements."
Espargaro remains as the team's lead rider and enters his fifth campaign with Aprilia. The Spaniard's best result came at the season finale at Portimao, finishing ninth. He ended 2020 17th overall with 42 points.
Meanwhile, Savadori is confirmed as Aprilia's 2021 rider after being selected ahead of Bradley Smith. A decision wasn't due to be taken until the end of pre-season testing, however& Savadori was alongside Espargaro for a recent private test at Jerez and his position was confirmed today.
Savadori raced for Aprilia in the final three races of last season, once again replacing Smith, who in-turn had replaced Andrea Iannone following his doping ban. Savadori finished 18th at Valencia 2, but failed to finish at Valencia 1 and Portimao.
The new RS-GP will be on track during tomorrow's Shakedown test due to the team keeping their concessions, with both Espargaro and Savadori able to test at Losail. Both riders will then take part in this weekend's two-day official test, and next week's three-day test.
As things stand the 2021 season will begin at the Losail International Circuit, Qatar, on March 28, followed by round two at the same circuit the following weekend (April 4).