Aprilia has a “long way to go” to close the gap in the MotoGP standings

Despite a breakthrough podium in 2021, Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola acknowledges his MotoGP team still has “a long way to go” to narrow the gap to the leaders.

After being one of just two manufacturers allowed to create an all-new bike amidst the COVID-enforced development freeze, the Italian marque made its biggest step towards the front in MotoGP in 2021, seven seasons after its return.

Aleix Espargaro was a steady top-eight finisher throughout the season, and his third-place finish at the British Grand Prix marked Aprilia’s first-ever podium in the contemporary MotoGP era.

With 120 points, the Spaniard placed ninth overall in the rankings.

“Yeah, it was a good season compared to the past for sure,” Rivola said at the end of the 2021 campaign.

“We are very keen to fight for 2022. First of all, we will be a factory team in the championship, but if we look at our progress from ’19, ’20, ’21, hopefully ’22 will keep that progression and we will close the gap to the front.

“But still we are behind, so there’s a long way to go.”

Aprilia’s 2021 season was turbulent behind the scenes, with the marque rocked by the death in February of Fausto Gresini, whose team oversaw Aprilia’s entry from 2015 to 2021.

When Andrea Iannone was given a four-year doping ban, Aprilia was left with few options for filling its second seat, with a number of MotoGP and Moto2 riders, including Andrea Dovizioso, declining the team.

Following his suspension from Yamaha, Lorenzo Savadori was granted the ride before being replaced by Maverick Vinales in the Aragon GP.

Vinales finished eighth in the Emilia Romagna GP, but he only scored points twice in the final six races as he adapted to the RS-GP.

Rivola, on the other hand, is “certain” that Aprilia will be able to get the most out of the nine-time MotoGP champion in 2022.

“The approach we had with Maverick was to do the races as a test, so trying different parts and set-up configurations to understand what’s better for him,” he added.

“This is for sure sacrificing the results of the race itself, and a bit his confidence, which has been a bit more difficult to build.

“But I’m sure we have in Maverick a super talent and I am convinced we will find the way to match our resources with his talent.”

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