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Rivola: “The Sprint Race will change things in the MotoGP”

EXCLUSIVE - “We hope to benefit from it. For Aprilia, confirming in 2023 what was done in 2022, won’t be easy. The rivals didn’t stop, and KTM is the one that dared the most by relying on Red Bull F1 and Ducati technicians.”

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A 2003 Aprilia RS Cube stands in plain sight in Massimo Rivola’s office. Specifically, the bike used by Colin Edwards. A bike that was perhaps before its time. So innovative that it was never able to fully express its potential. But it was also the first step forward in the history of the Aprilia MotoGP that, twenty years later, is ready to bring the 2023 RS-GP of 2023 onto the track. A bike that continues the virtual legacy of the first MotoGP winner of Noale. 

It’s not an easy challenge because, after reaching the highest level of competitiveness, confirming themselves won’t be a walk in the park. Rivola is aware of this, but he’s also equally aware of how Aprilia Racing has grown during the past seasons, becoming a reference point for everyone on the track. 2023 will be the year of the Sprint Race debut and also the first year that Aprilia will have a satellite team, thanks to a contract with RNF. A complex season, which the captain in Noale is ready to face. 

Nice introduction, but I have to say that the captain of Aprilia is Aleix! And don’t you dare steal his role from him. I see myself more as the coach. We can start by saying that 2022 was a great season that ended very badly. But this, after the initial anger, turned into positive energy, to do better in 2023. It’s also true that today we struggle to hide. We were probably a surprise for everyone in 2022. I wouldn’t say for us who expected it, but the results were even higher than we expected. It was somewhat thanks to us, somewhat thanks to our opponents.”

Rivola: “We took care of every detail, the entire grid is within one second in the MotoGP”

Now you have to prove that you’re at a high level. 
This year, even just getting the same results could prove to be very complicated. I’m sure of one thing. Namely, everyone in Aprilia worked with the utmost dedication, checking every detail because, nowadays, with a grid in the MotoGP in which there are twenty-four riders within one second, it doesn’t take much to be behind. You have to know how to intervene on the bike. You could find some horsepower for the engine, but then using it becomes a difficult task for the bike package.” 

The opponents certainly did not idle away time. 
Extreme research is part of racing. Every year, our bike has greater potential than the previous year. But if it’s able to go any faster, we have to figure that out. That’s how it’s always been for now, but it’s not always predictable. And the opponents will be fierce. Ducati always has a lot of data with eight bikes to work on. Yamaha will have a new engine on the track and take an important leap. Honda, with Marc in top shape, will play an important role. KTM is the one that wagered the most, taking men from Red Bull F1 and Ducati. They definitely didn’t idle away time.” 

But you were also active.
We didn’t stop either, but we’ve grown very fast. Proving ourselves won’t be easy. Then 2022 was the first year as a full factory team, and it wasn’t easy. This year, we also have a satellite team, which we’re not used to having. We’ll have a team for data analysis, but also one related to managing the bikes, replacement parts, on a corporate level, in short.

Rivola: “When we signed with RNF, the Sprint Race wasn’t in the plans”

Will replacement parts be a problem with the Sprint Race?
The sprint race wasn’t in the plans when we reached an agreement with RNF. It’ll definitely be a factor that can change certain balances. We hope to be among those who benefit from it. But everything has advanced very quickly. We’re taking big steps. I hope it won’t be too big of a step.” 

Strolling through the Racing Department, you notice great professionalism. A skill that comes from a lifetime spent in racing. 
We have very high-tech hardware here, but we also have very high-level, human know-how. Just look at the box in which the tanks are built, for example, which are works of art. All the racing culture has remained here in Noale, and we now have the opportunity to make the most of it. There are also other places that grew with this racing culture. Certainly, Noale is a leader among these.” 

Rivola: “I’m very happy with our rider training program, Raul could be the future”

In 2023, you’re going to have four riders, all very fast, and all with a great possibility to do well. 
I’m very happy with our rider training program, starting with Aleix, who’s proof that consistency pays off in the MotoGP. Maverick is certainly not a talent that I discovered today. I’m convinced that we’ve done everything to make him feel completely at ease. That makes all the difference. We always expect a lot from riders like Maverick, because everyone has always known his talent. So it’s normal when he’s fast and doing well. I’d say it’s almost expected. He’s a guy who puts a lot of pressure on himself. In my opinion, too much. This year, with the team he has around him, and the direction taken with his bike, I see him among the protagonists, without a doubt.

And what did you think of the two RNF riders in the Valencia test?
Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez, after having seen their first approach, I can only be optimistic. They’ll have the 2022 bike. I think Miguel is a more mature rider. He’s won races, and I think his type of riding fits very well with our bike. I’m also curious to see Raul, because he’s incredibly talented. What he did in the Moto2, no one else has, and these things don’t happen by chance. 2022 was a difficult year for him from different aspects. Now I want to see his growth. What he’ll have to try not to do is rush into comparing himself to his three teammates, who are all very fast. But it’s a great opportunity for him. He can learn from each one of them. We have a long-term contract with him.” 


Translated by Leila Myftija

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