The last of the factory teams to unveil their 2020 team and livery, Aprilia Racing is showing off an early iteration of its 2020 Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP race bike.
Of note is the lengthy amount of work gone into streamlining the front wheel area of the Aprilia RS-GP, and we can see that the tail section sports a salad box configuration, similar to what Ducati pioneered.
Gone is the “spoon” scoop for the rear wheel, though that could make a return at certain tracks, though we do see the massive hammerhead spoiler at the front of the bike, which has become a great place to remind fans which motorcycle they are watching.
The real goodness lies in the new 90° V4 engine though, which is said to bring a sizable power increase – 280hp is rumored in the MotoGP paddock.
The real interesting parts of the team launch though come from the team photos, and the circumstances that Aprilia Racing currently faces as they gear up their MotoGP program.
Of course, we are mostly alluding to the situation involving Andrea Iannone and his positive test results for steroid use. The Italian’s future in MotoGP is on the line, as he appeals his automatic ban from competition.
While Iannone contends that he ate tainted beef in Malaysia, the burden is on him to prove this circumstance, which is a tough level of proof to overcome.
He is provisionally banned from testing any motorcycle for Aprilia until his name is cleared, which sees Bradley Smith taking over that role, and possibly starting the MotoGP season in Iannone’s seat.
As such, we see in the Aprilia team photos the unusual step of Bradley Smith included in the photoshoot, alongside Iannone and Espargargo. It is not normal to see MotoGP teams including their official test riders in this way, and certainly not in such a prominent fashion.
What is more interesting to see is that rider Aleix Espargaro has close to double the photos in the press package than Iannone, which could be due to benign factors, but does raise some eyebrows. Again, Bradley Smith is included, with almost as much prominence as Iannone.
Reading between the lines, it almost seems that Aprilia Racing is hedging its bets for the 2020 MotoGP season in this release, showing all three riders who could be part of its factory racing duo, as Smith would fill in for Iannone, should the Italian’s legal appeal ultimately fail.
Unfortunately, all of this off-track drama overshadows the progress that Noale has made with the 2020 Aprilia RS-GP race bike, which was welcomed to rave reviews by Aleix Espargaro during preseason testing.
The Italian team seems to have finally made a big step forward with its racing program, but all of that progress seems to have been lost in the weeds because of personnel issues.
With Iannone seemingly with one foot out the door at Aprilia, one has to wonder what it could mean for Aprilia if Aleix Espargaro shows strong results at the Qatar GP. The Spaniard has put in the time on the RS-GP, and now he seems finally ready to reap the rewards.
Photos: Aprilia Racing