For nearly two decades, we have seen two Japanese giants dominate MotoGP. In the early 70s, the Japanese manufacturers took the reign from European manufacturers and never let go. From then on, it has been a Honda and Yamaha show. But during the last few years, European manufacturers started to catch up. Among these, Italian manufacturers have led this resurgence and among those, Aprilia has been a force to be reckoned with in the previous season and the current one.
From racking up podiums to emotional victories, Aprilia has finally started to show its true prowess at a show that is a pinnacle of motorcycle racing. The Aprilia RS-GP is one of the best motorcycles on the grid and it has been a result of tireless efforts on multiple fronts. With improvements on the dynamic front and aero development that has been nothing short of revolutionary, the folks at Aprilia have finally managed to make the RS-GP a frontrunner.
Among the improvements, the engine has been a significant one. The 90-degree V4 that powers the current Aprilia RS-GP is one of the strongest and friendliest engines on the grid. For the past decade or so, a certain Desmo has ruled the roost in terms of raw power but Aprilia’s efforts have ensured that the RS-GP’s mill is nothing to scoff at either. And Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE has a big part to play in the performance gains made by the RS-GP’s engine. A story of resurgence is always a good one… so let’s dive into it a little bit!
Aprilia Waltzed on the MotoGP stage in 1994 with the RSW500. Contrary to the name, the RSW500 was a 400cc 2-stroke v-twin competing against 500cc motorcycles from other manufacturers. Yet, it found itself on the second row of the Spanish GP qualifying that year. It was unheard of and announced Aprilia’s arrival on the world stage big style. As the displacement steadily grew to near full 500cc by the 2000 season, the RSW500 found itself on pole at Phillip Island and within a second of winning at Donnington Park.
Their second attempt was the radical RS Cube that came in for the inaugural 990cc 4-stroke MotoGP season in 2002. It was designed by Cosworth, had pneumatic valves, ride-by-wire throttle, and managed to break the 200 mph (321 km/h). Aprilia was already ruling the smaller classes. Some of the world’s greatest riders ever took Aprilia to 125cc and 250cc championships consistently. And then came the decline.
Despite being the fastest, Piaggio, the new owner of Aprilia, realized that the RS Cube may never be competitive enough. So the MotoGP project was axed for nearly a decade. In 2009, the 250cc class went away and in 2011, the 125cc class suffered the same fate. Aprilia was a brand famed for racing; they couldn’t just quit so they returned as ART in 2012 under the SCR regulations. The engine was just an upgraded RSV4 superbike engine so it never stood a chance and yet, it was ridden to a fair few top tens by Aleix Espargaró.
In 2015, Aprilia decided to finally have a factory team in MotoGP but they stuck to the aforementioned engine. It was in 2016 when Aprilia went fully prototype and the RS-GP was born, the precursor to the current motorcycle that is at the forefront of MotoGP today. But the brand was still struggling. The 72-degree V4 made the RS-GP friendly but wasn’t cut out for racing with the 90-degree V4 rivals. Moreover, Romano Albesiano was responsible for not only engineering but running the team as well.
Things turned around in 2019 when Aprilia decided to get serious about its MotoGP efforts. Massimo Rivola from F1 was hired as the CEO of Aprilia Racing and Romano Albesiano was charged with just one task- build a competitive RS-GP. In 2020, the team decided to go with the 90-degree V4 and the RS-GP was starting to look like a serious threat. Though COVID-19 made for a difficult outing, the RS-GP showed tons of potential.
Finally, after only six years in the premier class, 2021 was the year when the RS-GP started to shine. And 2021 was also the year when Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE joined Aprilia Racing! The current engine is touted to be one of the friendliest and with Aprilia Racing’s chassis prowess, the RS-GP is one of the best-handling V4s on the grid. Moreover, the engine’s performance has been further aided by Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE.
Maverick Viñales has had a wonderful time racing in the factory Aprilia Racing MotoGP Team. In the duration of his relatively short time with the team so far, Viñales has put the Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE powered Aprilia Racing MotoGP Team’s RS-GP bike on the podium 8 times already. On a few occasions, he has also come tantalizing close to his first victory with the Aprilia Racing MotoGP Team. As this partnership grows, we are sure that with the support from the factory team and Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE, that first victory with Aprilia won’t elude Maverick Viñales for long!
A strong engine, especially a prototype one competing in MotoGP, is an engineering marvel. With nearly 300 horses, these engines run super stressed and that is why multiple units are used over a season. Despite that, every race is a test of not only the engine but the engine oil as well. To keep an engine performing at its best throughout the race distance in varying conditions is a tall task and yet, Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE has been flawless in keeping the RS-GP’s engine protected without compromising on the performance. Moreover, Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE’s advanced formula goes a long way in enhancing the friendly attributes of the RS-GP’s engine.
Aleix Espargaró has been with the Aprilia Racing MotoGP Team for a long time now and he has played a pivotal role in the development of the Aprilia RS-GP from a mid-pack motorcycle at best to the frontrunner that it is today. Since 2021, the year in which the Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE powered Aprilia RS-GP started to find its footing, Aleix has garnered 11 podiums including 4 race wins. With the support from Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE, we are sure that Aleix Espargaró will bring more glory to the Aprilia Racing MotoGP Team in the future.
As a result, the RS-GP found its first podium and its first victory in the modern MotoGP era in 2022. We got to witness the RS-GP’s stellar performance aided by Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE firsthand at the BharatGP where Maverick Viñales scored two top tens with Raul Fernandez with Raúl Fernández from the satellite team also scoring a top 10 in the sprint. While Aleix Espargaró was unfortunate in both races, it was another positive outing for the Aprilia Racing team powered by Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE and a testament to the performance of Castrol POWER1 ULTIMATE.