The Trackhouse Racing introduction of its 2024 MotoGP team in Hollywood on Friday was a major event for American motorcycle road racing and for Aprilia. There were multiple World Champions and U.S. Champions on hand, as well as representatives from the top level of Aprilia’s motorcycle road racing efforts.
Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola said that Trackhouse was important to the factory’s racing efforts. With four 2024-spec bikes on the track and in the hands of a team with close ties to the factory, Aprilia will gather more data, more feedback and thus follow Ducati’s example of using the maximum amount of information gathered on the track to hone its racebikes to their optimum on race weekends.
As is the case with most top-level motorsport launches, the machines displayed are not the actual vehicles the team will go racing with. Building a MotoGP machine is an incredibly complicated process, and Aprilia is still building the bikes for the upcoming season. Trackhouse Team Manager and former Grand Prix racer Wilco Zeelenberg said the 2024 machines that rider Miguel Oliveira will race already were in Malaysia for the first pre-season test. Interestingly, job one for the team from an on-track perspective is making sure that the 2024 machine is developed to a higher level of performance than the 2023 bike. Last year’s machine was good enough to win two races and nearly lock out the podium in Barcelona. Raul Fernandez, (who raced 2022 versions of the RS-GP in 2023), said when he got a chance to test the 2023 version of Aprilia’s RS-GP at the post-season test in Valencia, he had much, much more confidence tipping the bike toward the apex on the brakes, and his performance showed–he was fifth-fastest on the day, just behind eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez.
On hand were not only the current MotoGP riders and key personnel for the Aprilia project, but several U.S. racers who have competed at the sport’s highest level. Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz, 500cc Grand Prix World Champions; Superbike World Champion, 250cc World Champion, and three-time 500cc Grand Prix race winner John Kocinski; Joe Roberts, America’s most recent Grand Prix winner (in Moto2); four-time MotoGP podium finisher John Hopkins; and four-time AMA Superbike Champion Josh Hayes; were all on hand. (Remember, in his first and only MotoGP event, Hayes filled in for the injured Colin Edwards on the Tech3 Yamaha YZR-M1 at Valencia in 2011, led the wet morning warm-up session, and finished seventh in the MotoGP race.) All spent time talking with young American racer Rossi Moor, who has won races and the 2022 Northern Talent Cup Championship (part of the Road to MotoGP program) in Europe.