Is Aprilia Looking for Concessions to Join MotoGP Factories?

07/30/2013 @ 5:27 pm, by David Emmett21 COMMENTS

Is Aprilia Looking for Concessions to Join MotoGP Factories? aleix espargaro corkscrew motogp jensen beeler 635x423

The performance of Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet has made it clear that Aprilia’s ART machine is the bike to be on for any rider not on a factory or satellite machine. There are a lot of reasons for the bike’s success: the engine in its standard state is very strong, the bike handles exceptionally well, and is very easy to ride.

But perhaps the biggest advantage which the Aprilia has is the use of Aprilia’s WSBK-derived electronics package, which is helping to make the bike extremely competitive. “Electronics are 75% of the bike,” Aleix Espargaro said in a recent interview with the Dutch MOTOR Magazine.

And here lies Aprilia’s dilemma. From 2014, Aprilia will be forced to choose. If they wish to continue as a non-factory entry (as the category replacing the CRT will be called), they must use the Dorna-supplied spec-software, written by Magneti Marelli for the spec-ECU.

Though the spec-electronics has made huge bounds in the six months since it was introduced, it is still very much a project under development. However, Aprilia’s software is a proven package, with many years of development behind it.

The alternative is to compete under the factory banner, and continue with their own proprietary software ported to the Magneti Marelli hardware. Though the electronics would be better, the problem will come with the engine durability and more especially, the requirement to race with just 20 liters of fuel on board.

As a new manufacturer – Aprilia have not competed in the MotoGP class as an MSMA manufacturer since 2007 – Aprilia will be allowed nine engines per season, rather than just the five the other factories must use, making engine durability less of a problem. However, lasting an entire race with just 20 liters of fuel is too difficult for Aprilia at the moment. When I asked about this recently, Gino Borsoi said that they were finishing most races using very close to the current limit of 21 liters.

Aprilia are keen to resolve this problem. According to the ever-reliable GPOne, Aprilia asked the MSMA, the organization representing the existing manufacturers, for an exemption from the fuel limits, and an allowance of 22 liters rather than 20 liters. The MSMA rejected that application, on the grounds that there should be a single rule for all of the factories.

GPOne rightly points out that when Suzuki asked for exceptions – extra engines, an exemption from the rule barring rookies joining factory teams – the Japanese manufacturer was granted them. Aprilia is now asking for an exception on similar grounds to Suzuki, but the MSMA is not prepared to make the same allowances for them as they were for Suzuki.

The fear, GPOne speculates, is that with an extra 2 liters of fuel and their proprietary software, the Aprilia could be a very attractive option. The ART has already proven its worth, and some bigger upgrades are on the cards. In an interview with the German website Motorsport Total, Aprilia test rider Alex Hofmann revealed that Aprilia has a new set of barrels and top end ready to test, with an 81mm bore rather than the current 78mm.

This would allow the engine to rev more and make more power, and reduce the deficit to the Yamahas and Hondas in the area the ART is weakest. When added to the pneumatic valves which Aprilia believes could be easily implemented, this would give the ART even more power, and make it a very attractive option for the teams.

The real trouble with the Aprilia is of course the price. Where factory prototypes are being leased for upwards of two million euros, and Honda’s and Yamaha’s CRT replacements are on offer for around a million euros, Aprilia is offering its bike for around the half million euro mark.

For a bike that could potentially be capable of troubling the satellite bikes, that is a very attractive price indeed, and could easily price the Hondas and Yamahas out of the market.

The existing factories fear Aprilia is taking over the class via the back door, and are therefore insisting that Aprilia compete under the rules as they stand: if they want to use their own software, they have to make do with 20 liters of fuel.

The ball is now in Dorna’s court. The fuel restrictions – a demand by the MSMA, as they present the kind of ‘engineering challenge’ which they can sell to their boards as a reason for competing – are deeply unloved by both senior Dorna staff and the teams. They are a massive barrier to entry for new competitors, and one of the major reasons for Suzuki delaying their reentry into the class until 2015, rather than 2014 as first planned.

Dorna could impose an exception for new factories entering the class via the Permanent Bureau (consisting of a Dorna representative and an FIM representative), but that would be a direct challenge to the existing factories. How the factories would respond to that is the big question. But with Aprilia offering bikes at half a million euros a shot, it is hard to argue against it as a cost-cutting measure.

Photo: © 2013 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. TexusTim says:

    ok so if aprila goes to factory entry they get more engines per year since they have been out for 5 years? how long has suzuki been out now 3 or 4 i think but they would not get the same engine allocation…why does it seem that some of these rules have some lattitude ? and then what is honda, and yamaha afraid of ? hell honda has the software thing down pat why not have some real competion out there..or who is afraid of aprila coming good….no one can be on top forever unless they get rules and favors handed to them because they threaten to walk off if they dont get there way…this has allways bothered me how japan see’s competion…it also includes competion or campaigning for rules in there favor or rules that hurt other teams,,escpecially the eu teams…..that isnt competion thats coercion and not fair for the future of motogp
    I HOPE FOR THE SAKE OF THE GREATEST SPORT ON THE PLANET THEY GET THIS RIGHT FOR NEXT SEASON.

  2. irksome says:

    So Aprilia gets their concessions, the factory teams get their panties in a twist and withdraw their support and all the now-unemployed riders go out and buy used 500cc 2-strokes… I fail to see a problem here.

  3. Norm G. says:

    re: “Aprilia has a new set of barrels and top end ready to test, with an 81mm bore rather than the current 78mm. This would allow the engine to rev more and make more power, and reduce the deficit to the Yamahas and Hondas in the area the ART is weakest. When added to the pneumatic valves which Aprilia believes could be easily implemented”

    easily implemented is not the same as “cheaply” implemented. as a side question, why is there the assumption that after they make these changes and combined with the long term costs factored in of supporting this kit, that the price would continue to be $500 grand…?

    re: “the MSMA is not prepared to make the same allowances for them as they were for Suzuki.”

    yeah well Suzuki just jerked us off.

  4. Norm G. says:

    re: “Aprilia will be allowed nine engines per season, rather than just the five the other factories must use”

    well there ya go. they’re ALREADY being given a concession of 4 extra engines so you may as well just give them the 2 liters and accept that there’s going to be yet another hybrid category between FULL msma (5/20) and NON msma (12/24).

    the gottdamn rule book already reads like WAR AND PEACE so at this point, who GIVES fuck all…? problem solved. next.

  5. Silas says:

    And the irony of it all? The fact that WSBK appears to have done more motorcycle development in terms of chassis and electronics than the prototypes. Except of course for Ducati (it’s done a lot for aesthetics but not much more), Honda (well, the 5 year old Fireblade DOES have a slipper clutch) and Yamaha (I think the latest R1 weighs about the same as a V-Rod).

  6. Jimbo says:

    I am of the belief that MotoGP should be a premier class of Prototype bikes with none of this CRT nonsense. For that to work we need to get as many factories racing as possible – i am very pleased Suzuki are coming back it would be great to see Kawasaki too – and entice companies newer to the sport – get BMW involved now they are less intrested in WSBK. I think they should make consessions for the first year if a factory team wants to return/join the sport. I feel the long term result would be good for the sport and motorcycle development as a whole.

  7. meatspin says:

    msma is right. There should be only one set of rules. The dispensation granted to suzuki should not have happened. They quit anyway soooooooo.

    I dont think the ARTs are that cheap. Maybe the barrel scrapers will pay that price but I think espargaro is riding with a motorcycle thats on a different tier/support package.

    Maybe both parties can meet somewhere in the middle if the the cost of developing a 5/20 bike is too much for Aprilia. HonYamDu might want the breathing room too. If Honda has a problem moving their production racers there should be a soft area there.

  8. BBQdog says:

    “…. for a bike that could potentially be capable of troubling the satellite bikes.”

    Aprilia is currently already capable of troubling the factory bikes of Ducati.

  9. “how long has suzuki been out now 3 or 4 i think but they would not get the same engine allocation…why does it seem that some of these rules have some lattitude ?”

    Suzuki ran up to 2011, so this is only the second season that the grid hasn’t featured the marque. So, no, they would not get the same flexibility in the rules. Besides, they bailed from the class even after promising Dorna they’d stick it out.

  10. paulus says:

    Rules should be rules.
    There are already 2 options. Aprilia AND Suzuki should be forced to choose one of them.

  11. Damn says:

    the only factory in trouble by aprilia is ducati. non of the others factorys are in trouble. the only rider who should not be in motogp have trouble with aprilia and that is Badly shit(bradly smith). As for fuel, keep the 21 litres. aprilia can do it with 22 litres so with a little development they can make the 21 litres. so keep it 21 litres give them the first year 9 engines the next year 7 and the next year 5 engines. at the moment aprilia seems cheap, but if they have to make the engines much more reliable(5 engines) keeps thier own software and if they can make it with 21 litres then aprilia wil cost much much more.

  12. “the only rider who should not be in motogp have trouble with aprilia and that is Badly shit(bradly smith).”

    Your mom letting you use the computer again? Sheesh.

    Any rider who can consistently qualify within 107% of the front runners deserves a place on the grid. Smith is doing better in his first year at Tech 3 than Crutchlow did in his first year. Amazing, innit?

  13. Jimbo says:

    “Smith is doing better in his first year at Tech 3 than Crutchlow did in his first year.”

    Couldnt agree more – he doesnt moan constantly like Cal Crutchlow too.

    Just wish i could come up with a funny name for Cal Crutschlow – all I can come up with is Gal Hightlow

  14. “Just wish i could come up with a funny name”

    I like Crutchlow an awful lot, so I don’t see the need to take the piss out of him. I don’t think he moans, either, although his usual “can’t win without a factory ride” rantings might be taken as such. I think he’s mostly funny and classically understated (in the British sense), and he rounds it out by simply calling things as he sees ‘em. I don’t always agree with him, but I do always appreciate the way he voices his opinions.

  15. Norm G. says:

    re: “There are already 2 options. Aprilia AND Suzuki should be forced to choose one of them.

    Suzuki, for their insolence.

    aprilia however, is ALREADY catching hell. 1st with the abolition of 2-strokes and the revenue stream therein. and just when they thought they were safe, along comes the destruction of WSBK and THAT revenue stream therein. come 2014, Noale kit is effectively blocked from being competitive in both prototype AND production.

    with a new rule set basically arriving every 24hrs, they’re doing an admirable job bending over backwards to keep up with these ever MOVING GOAL-POSTS. however, this should not be. a company of many should not be jumping through hoops to do the bidding of a single individual. i’m surprised piaggio doesn’t just pull out and declare the division’s second bankruptcy.

    wait better yet, someone versed in European anti-trust needs to bring suit against dorna/bridgepoint under ECMR. but alas, welcome to the niche business of motorcycling, 97% don’t give a rat’s… even in Europe.

  16. Damn says:

    cmon how can you say that. watching badly shit riding is like watching pinoccio riding. the wood boy! dont look any natural at all. he was just lucky getting that bike.! he’s no jorge vale dani marq bradl or cal. btw BS maybe young but looks as old as santa! wish dovi was still on that bike!

  17. “cmon how can you say that.”

    Easy. They’re called statistics. Cal finished his first season in MotoGP in 12th place with 70 points. Smith is currently in 11th place with 51 points. Nine races into each respective season, Smith had 9 starts and 2 retirements compared to Crutchlow’s 8 starts and 2 retirements. Nothing against Crutchlow here at all (I really like him as both a rider and as a paddock personality), but Smith is well poised to finish his rookie year in better form than Cal did. Cal crashed out 3 more times in his first season. I don’t think Smith will follow that same lead.

    One of the biggest reasons that I think Smith will outdo Cal’s rookie performance is because Bradley is being mentored by Randy Mamola. When Randy speaks to Bradley, Bradley is 100% focused and listening to what the man says.

    “the wood boy! dont look any natural at all.”

    Maybe, but that doesn’t necessarily make him slow. He managed 23 podiums (including 3 wins) in the lower classes, plus a handful of fastest laps. Besides, lots of riders have had unique styles over the years. Norick Abe always looked amusingly awkward on a 500, but the boy sure as hell was quick.

    “btw BS maybe young but looks as old as santa!”

    LOL – Yeah, well, I relate to the guy. My hairline began creeping backwards when I was 18, too. I’ve been shaving my head regularly for the last 20 years just to look a respectable age. Whatever didn’t fall out turned bloody white. So, yeah, Bradley gets my full on empathy. I sure don’t hold it against him. Besides, does it matter once he’s wearing a helmet? :)

    Cheers!

  18. Jimbo says:

    @ I like Crutchlow an awful lot, so I don’t see the need to take the piss out of him. I don’t think he moans, either, although his usual “can’t win without a factory ride” rantings might be taken as such. I think he’s mostly funny and classically understated (in the British sense), and he rounds it out by simply calling things as he sees ‘em. I don’t always agree with him, but I do always appreciate the way he voices his opinions.”

    I respect your opinons of him and thats fine. I however cant stand him. THe other riders are so smart and can speak at least two languages, sometimes three – Cal can barely speak english. He has dificulty stringing sentences together and and in the press room after assen he spoke with an italian accent!?!
    His isnt liked by anyone in the actual paddock execept the BBC Reporters. He shouts at his pit crew – the other riders dont. Look at pit crew interviews. they all really like their riders and say nice things about them. No one in Monster Tech ever says anything nice about crutchlow. The thing i dont like about him most tho is his sense of entitlement. He thinks he deserves a factory ride (he now has one at ducati – gutted) but if you see there are four (proper) factory rides and the four riders who have them are all better than crutchlow. Some say he should replace rossi. Lets see him win a race first. Rossi is on his bike for the first season and has still one a race. This is cals second. How did he do last year (shit if i recall).
    I am an englishman and my country men have a habbit of supporting someone just because they are english. I wont be drawn in to it. I will support someone i like.

  19. Norm G. says:

    re: “I am an englishman and my country men have a habbit of supporting someone just because they are english. I wont be drawn in to it.”

    toe the line, works for the Spanish.

  20. mike says:

    “”The real trouble with the Aprilia is of course the price. Where factory prototypes are being leased for upwards of two million euros, and Honda’s and Yamaha’s CRT replacements are on offer for around a million euros, Aprilia is offering its bike for around the half million euro mark.””

    How is that trouble & for who?
    We know but still this should be a good thing that make GP more
    open to more folks who cannot dedicate 2 million per bike that may get tossed each weekend

    I would love to see them stay non-factory & with the new barrels take some wins myself :)

  21. Jimbo says:

    @ Norm G. hahaha good point! Go on Cal!!!