It's just a short hop from the MotoGP paddock to that of Superbike. The production-derived bikes are on track at Misano this weekend and Romano Albesiano is taking the opportunity to support the team on-site. As well as the racing, there is also the question of whether the Aprilia-Milwaukee pairing will continue on in next year's championship.
Romano, how are things looking mid-season?
“Up until now, it's been an unlucky season for us in Superbike. The performance of the bike is better with respect to 2017, but as we know there was Savadori's accident at Phillip Island followed by Laverty's at Buriram. We could have been closer to the front, despite the serious handicap relating to revs”.
The regulation has had a big impact then?
“This is why we had to reconfigure the engine's torque curve which meant we had to work on the engine, losing potential in terms of performance, even if overall character has improved. The team has done well though and it looks like we're on the right path”.
How is it to go from the MotoGP paddock to that of SBK?
“Two different worlds, in MotoGP it's all business and technology while here in SBK it's more about love and passion for bikes . It all seems easier and I don't deny that I like it, even more in this context”.
How can they boost Superbike do you think?
“The more strong personalities there are, the better, right now there is no big personality.
Romano, contract negotiations are underway with Milwaukee. Where do things lie right now?
“We're talking, it seems that the team has serious and positive intentions for the future. There are still some missing pieces, but I'm confident that this project and continue and grow in terms of results. Aprilia loves this paddock and the SBK, but we'll only continue if it's compatible with MotoGP, as that remains our priority”.
Milwaukee was asking for technical material, bikes and engineers at zero cost.
“I don't want to go into the details. That was just one phase of negotiations. Personally, I see good sense, I think things are heading down the right path”.
Will it all be decided this weekend?
“No, further discussions are needed. definitely before the next race (he jokes)”.
Have you taken a step forward in terms of the negotiations with Milwaukee.
“After two years of investment, it makes sense to continue with this project. I believe there are good reasons to continue. Else, we'll take a different decision, one of these might be to stop racing in Superbike”.
SBK without Aprilia would be a great shame.
“After 2014, we reduced our commitment, in light of the MotoGP project. We want to stay in Superbike but in a competitive position and we need to understand whether that's possible or not.
Over to MotoGP. Next weekend you're racing at the Sachsenring.
“We're starting from a good level of performance, considering that the Aprilia lapped in 1'33 at Assen. Unfortunately the organisation of our work inside the garage has been less than perfect this year. The bike continues to grow, as does the technological aspect, the fundamental component in MotoGP”.
So are you confident ahead of the next rounds?
“We know the bike's weak points and are developing new parts for the future. I think we can be top ten and even fight for the top five”.
You mentioned new parts.
“The main new elements will arrive in August. We'll have the third version of the carbon swingarm and we're also making a new frame, because development never stops”.
There will be no more “transformer” winglets though.
“It's only right! The aerodynamic element is interesting and positive for development. Those who said the winglets were dangerous were just looking for an excuse. But we need to be careful not to generate a boom in terms of costs, so limiting them is positive. The bike with wings is undoubtedly better than one without”.
Considering the Aprilia's recent performance, what do you want to say to Iannone?
“The riders see each other on track and consider a bike based on what they see. If Andrea's made this decision, it's because he's convinced by the Aprilia. We need to work hard and present a wide range of solutions over the winter”.
So further economic investment then?
“Investments increase of course and our awareness has grown and increased over the years. But it must grow in line with the passing of the years”.
And Superbike might benefit?
“We hope to continue well as I've said, with Milwaukee”.
Have negotiations moved forward?
“Perhaps, I think both parties have good intentions”.
What about Redding as test rider?
“Scott is young and fast. We offered him this opportunity and he has to see what to do. Unfortunately it's not easy with this very early market. Iannone was another opportunity that was too tempting to resist”.