This season’s Aprilia 2021 RS-GP and rider line-up was presented trackside at the Losail International Circuit this afternoon in emotional style after the recent loss of team and rider manager, Fausto Gresini.
The 2021 livery leads with a touching tribute to Gresini across the front wing, with Aprilia CEO, Massimo Rivola affirming: “Fausto was with us with this project since the very beginning and we will keep using his tips to keep growing. Our desire is to make him proud.”
Discussing the RS-GP’s evolution from last season’s launch, Technical Director, Romano Albesiano, explained: “The 2020 was definitely a good base, we have worked night and day along the winter to improve, on paper, all the aspects of the bike. We also had the opportunity to make a test on the basic concept of the bike at the end of last season, everything seems to run okay so we are very positive.
“I’m pretty sure that Fausto would have been very happy and proud of this development. You can see most of the aerodynamic work and it’s a big change compared to last year - we lacked some downforce last year, also because of the pandemic and rule change that happened, so this year we have made a lot of work. This bike is full of new aerodynamic concepts, very innovative aerodynamic concepts which we are very, very proud of.
“It’s not only aerodynamics, I would say almost all of the parts of the bike have changed. We have a new frame, the carbon fibre swingarm, the new rear-seat-structure, which is a key part of the modern motorcycle. Engine-wise we have new cylinder-heads, new throttle-body-system, so the bike is based on the 2020 but there are many substantial changes and refinements.
“Thanks to the work done over the winter and the great efforts of the racing department, we know that we have taken a big step forward, so now we are anxious to see how it measures up against our rivals. Our growth is clear and this gives everyone a boost of confidence. Our engineers have brought to the track a further evolution of a project that has great potential still to be expressed. We made changes in every aspect, from the visible areas, like the new aerodynamics or the carbon swingarm, all the way to in-depth changes to the chassis architecture, engine and electronics. The package that we will be taking onto the track in this initial stage of the season will then be developed even further based on a work programme that has substantially already been defined.”
Aleix Espargaro heads the Noale factory’s campaign for the fifth year in a row and will be joined by Italian youngster, Lorenzo Savadori, who was present for the team in the final three races of 2020. Speaking about the rider line-up, Rivola continued: “Let’s say we start as we finish last year. We finish with a good improvement, we hope to keep improving during the season. Our ‘Captain’ [Espargaro] has a long experience with us, he is a very good reference for Lorenzo, Fausto believed a lot in him and so do we.
“In first stage of the championship, we do not want to look at the others, but just at ourselves, strengthening our undoubtedly positive trend. Aleix will have an extremely important job, leading the team and not being distracted by the frenzy of immediate results. Consistency and hard work will give him the satisfaction he deserves. Lorenzo will need to grow and learn a lot, beginning with the circuits. An extraordinary talent scout like Fausto believed very much in him, so I am confident that he will give his all to repay that trust. The team is solid, ambitious and realistic. Everyone knows that the only way to keep growing is to stay the course, taking Aprilia to the point of battling for the positions that count, even in MotoGP.”
Commenting on his consistency with the smallest factory on the grid, Espargaro reflected: “I will start my fifth season with this brand, with this magnific group of people. I think that we, since the very beginning, every single year we make some steps forward, and I hope to keep growing, to keep improving and be closer to our goal this 2021 season.
“It may seem trite, but I am always emotional at the start of a new season. I’m about to begin my fifth with Aprilia, a team that has by now become my second family. In fact, I can’t wait to get back to work with them. The first contact with the new RS-GP was positive. The guys worked hard over the winter, but we still have a long way to go. We have a demanding and very busy championship ahead, where physical and mental fitness will need to be at top levels. I’m more prepared than ever.
“Normally [for] every five/six days of training I stop one day and I rest but basically I spend minimum five hours per day. During the winter I prefer to do more physical [training] than to ride motocross, because I want to avoid injury.
“The bike looks good. The aerodynamics look really good. The new wings looks promising, also the rear part of the bike is much better. The seat of the bike looks also very different and will allow me to move a little bit better and be able to be more inside of the bike. I can’t wait to try out the bike and see the results on the track.”
While a somewhat emotional Savadori concluded: “I’m really happy and I want to say thank you to Aprilia for this opportunity, I train a lot during the winter to arrive ready and I also want to say thank you to Fausto, to believe in me. The one goal of the year is for him - for me he was my manager but also a reference - to try to make the maximum for Fausto.
“Making it to MotoGP involves a number of things. You must never give up, keep striving towards your goal, and always willing to learn and grow. That makes the difference.
“I know that I have a lot to learn. It is a demanding category and still new for me. The tests and races last year gave me a chance to begin building confidence with this bike and with these tyres, but it is just a starting point with wide margins for improvement. I’ll try to transform the pain generated by the passing of Fausto, a person who believed very much in me, into positive energy. His determination and the things he taught me will accompany me in this new stage of my career.”