The future of the IODA Racing project for 2014 is looking extremely uncertain. The Italian team, scheduled to race Aprilia ART machinery in the Open class in MotoGP this year, were absent from the first Sepang test, and it appears they will also be absent from the second Sepang test as well.
One of the two final missing pieces of the 2014 MotoGP line up has been filled in. Today, the Paul Bird Motorsport team announced it would be back in MotoGP next season, with a two-rider team and additional help from Aprilia.
The two riders will be Michael Laverty, who rode for Paul Bird’s PBM team in 2013, and Broc Parkes, who has spent most of his career racing in World Supersport and World Superbikes.
Though the press release issued stated that the team will be racing ‘PBM Aprilias’, it is still uncertain exactly what Laverty and Parkes will be riding.
For the past month or so, Nicky Hayden has been telling the press that an announcement on his future should come in the next couple of days.
On race weekends, the press asks on Thursday whether there’s any news, and then again on Sunday, and get the same reply: No, not yet, but it shouldn’t be long.
We know who Hayden will be signing with – Hayden has been spotted going in and out of the Aspar team’s truck so often, that you start to suspect he’s already been given a spare key.
And up until recently, we though we knew what he would be riding, a heavily modified version of the Aprilia ART machine, with a new engine with pneumatic valves and a seamless gearbox, and a new chassis to put it in.
But it appears that that bike has been put on hold, as the most important contract negotiations for 2014 are starting to reach a climax.
While David is in Aragon, I am down in Laguna Seca for the World Superbike races (apparently AMA Pro Racing is here too, though you wouldn’t know it from their TV contract), and Aprilia USA just debuted and confirmed that the alphabet soup that is the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC ABS will be landing on US soil starting in October 2013.
The naked version of the venerable Aprilia RSV4 R APRC ABS superbike, the Tuono V4 R is our hands-down favorite liter-class streetfighter, with its burly, yet smooth, power delivery, and industry-leading electronics package.
Keeping the machine inline with its competitors, Aprilia is now adding ABS for the 2014 model year , and thus has raised the bar a little higher with its next iteration of the Tuono V4 R. Helping seal the deal is the $14,499 price tag, which is $500 less than last year’s MSRP.
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.
We have already extensively reported the coming rule changes for the 2014 MotoGP Championship season (most recently the conclusion of the engine claiming rule), so the news today is really more about the FIM has giving its blessing to the new direction that Dorna is taking for the premier class.
Drawing a new distinction now as to how teams are classified as “factory” entries, and thus subject to differing fuel, engine, and entry requirements, the real crux of the equation revolves around whether a team uses the the spec-electronics software from Dorna, or decides to use its own software (note: all teams will be on a spec-ECU from 2014 forth).
Now 167 hp strong, those crazy Italians in Noale are upgrading there already stout Aprilia Tuono V4 R APRC for the 2014 model year, and for bonus points are adding an ABS package along with those extra ponies on the streetfighter’s peak horsepower figure.
Integrating the Bosch 9MP dual-channel ABS package, which is mated to Brembo M432 brake calipers up-front, Aprilia has made the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R a bit more stable while braking on questionable road conditions — keeping the bike inline with its competitors.
With a bevy of changes coming to the Tuono’s 999.6cc V4 power plant to boost power, we also see that Aprilia has included its second-generation APRC electronics package to the motorcycle, making it easily the most tech-savvy machine in its category.
Other changes include also a larger fuel tank (4.9 gallons), and a new seat for better street performance and ergonomics. It’s not clear if Aprilia USA will price the 2014 Aprilia Tuono V4 R at its previous $14,999 MSRP, or will continue its aggressive pricing at $13,999, like the company has done with the 2013 models.
The Power Electronics Aspar team have seized the opportunity offered by the CRT rules with both hands. By teaming up with Aprilia and employing two talented and fast riders, Aspar has helped turn the RSV4-based ART machine into a genuinely competitive machine, in every respect except for horsepower.
At Assen, Aleix Espargaro finished eighth, ahead of two factory Ducatis and three other satellite MotoGP machines. The bike is clearly good.
For 2014, however, Aspar must face a dilemma. With the introduction of the spec-electronics system, teams choosing to race the ART bikes will lose the current advantage those machines have, a highly-developed and very effective electronics package.
Teams running ART machines must choose, either to accept the Magneti Marelli developed software, and keep 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines, or persuade Aprilia to port their software to the spec-ECU Marelli, and try to race with 20 liters of fuel and either 5 or 9 engines, depending on whether the Grand Prix Commission decided Aprilia had already been competing in MotoGP as an MSMA member or not.
The Dutch TT at Assen looks like being a very busy few days for everyone looking for a ride next year. The end of June has been earmarked as a deadline for all sorts of negotiations, from rider contracts to bike projects. Decisions will be made and contracts – or at least letters of intent – will be signed. A lot of paperwork should get done by the time the trucks roll out of the paddock on Sunday, heading for Germany and the Sachsenring.
Though most of the prototype rides are already wrapped up, there are still a few seats open, and some interesting and major changes could be on the way. The focal point for the future, and the key to all of the moves for next year is Scott Redding. The young Briton has raised his game in 2013, elevating himself to both the favorite for the 2013 Moto2 title, and hot property for MotoGP next season.