From a press release issued by Aprilia Racing Press Information:
Noale - 8 November 2002
Aprilia and the 2003 MotoGP
Colin Edwards and Aprilia President Ivano Beggio.
The spotlights on the four world championship titles conquered by Aprilia in the 2002 MotoGP season are still shining bright. And they are going to shine even brighter as celebrations get underway at Noale over the coming days. The gates of the Scorzè plant and those of the glorious Noale Racing Department and of the record-breaking Research and Development Department will be opened to the public. Forming the backdrop to all this will be the Aprilia riders who have helped achieve these four world titles, the technicians of the Racing Department and all those who have worked so hard in the Noale-based motorcycle company.
But now the time has come to put Aprilia's technological and sporting commitment for next year in the MotoGP down in writing, and the official announcement, as always, is the task of the President of Aprilia, Ing. Ivano Beggio. "I have always wanted the MotoGP project to go forward, in the hope that it will become a centre of technological and sporting excellence in Aprilia" said the President. "The results of the first year of development work on the bike will act as a launching pad towards greater competitiveness next season. The project has solid foundations and plenty of room for improvement, so it is hardly a surprise that we have decided to double our commitment next year. We are putting great emphasis on the innovation and evolution we are capable of, as well as on the talent of the two riders selected for the 2003 challenge. I urge them and all the technicians to continue to do their utmost so that we can reach some tangible results in the near future".
Aprilia Racing will thus field an official team with two riders, effectively doubling the company's effort this year in the big class. The two official RS Cubes will be entrusted to Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga - two riders of undisputed talent. Colin Edwards, from Houston, Texas, comes from the Superbike competition, where he became world champion in 1998 and again in 2002, and thus has in-depth knowledge of four-stroke racing bikes. His skill and his precise, clean style of riding will make a decisive contribution to the development and competitiveness of the three-cylinder machine from Noale. Flanking him will be another four-stroke star, the creative and spectacular Noriyuki Haga, who this year flew the Aprilia banner in the Superbike. For Noriyuki Haga, this will be a return to the MotoGP, but this time he will be on Aprilia's flagship GP bike.
The technical partners who will line up alongside Aprilia in the 2003 Championship have also been nominated. The French tyre manufacturer Michelin will be working with the Noale-based company on the two official RS Cubes. The agreement with the French colossus and with the research and development centre in Clermont Ferrand comes as part of a medium/long-term programme for the Aprilia MotoGP project.
After this initial "running-in" development year, the RS Cube project will continue with a number of innovative technical changes. Work will be carried out in a number of areas, including: settings, power delivery, injection system and constructive evolutions of various components designed to make the bike considerably lighter.
"The data and references we've collected this first year are comforting and show that the direction we're working in is right", confirms Ing. Jan Witteveen, chief of the Aprilia Racing Department. "So we've got to carry on developing every aspect of the project to take it to a higher level of competitiveness. This is why we've expanded the Four-Stroke division of the Racing Department, appointing a special workgroup dedicated to the MotoGP."
The MotoGP sector of the Aprilia Racing Division will be headed by Ing. Gigi Dall'Igna, who will supervise the workgroup and will be in charge of the technical side of the project.
"I'm fully aware of the enormous responsibility this appointment gives me, and I have no illusion as to how clear our objectives are", says Ing. Dall'Igna. "The MotoGP workgroup has been enlarged still further and, analysing the data we've gathered during this first year of competition, I'd say we've got good grounds to work on in the future. This is going to be full immersion for all of us: we'll be developing all the evolutions to be adopted in the RS Cube project. We'll be getting our first feedback during the forthcoming season of winter tests."
The first in a long series of sorties on the track is slated to take place in Spain in a couple of weeks' time.
And now this comment from reader Brandon Watson:
Am I the only one who noticed that the Aprilia press release erroneously has Colin Edwards listed as WSB Champion in 1998? Edwards was 2000 and 2002. You would think Aprilia would know who they are getting. Fogarty was World Champ in 1998. Maybe that's who they wanted...