Marco Melandri (left) and Aprilia Racing Manager Romano Albesiano (right) during announcement of Melandri’s move to Aprilia Racing for the 2014 World Superbike season.
Aprilia Racing has confirmed that Marco Melandri will join its World Superbike team in 2014, replacing 2013 WorldSBK championship runner-up Eugene Laverty. Melandri commits to one year with the team and has the option of renewing his contract in 2015.
Melandri is no stranger to the marque. He contested the 250 World Championship aboard an Aprilia from 2000-2002 earning his first, and only to-date, world title in 2002. During his tenure in MotoGP from 2003 to 2010 Melandri rode with Honda, Yamaha, Ducati and Kawasaki, amassed 22 race wins and 62 podium finishes. When the Italian rider moved to World Superbike in 2011 he took second in the championship with Yamaha and then switched to BMW for 2012, giving the German marque its first race win in the series the same year. Melandri has finished inside the top-five during his three seasons in World Superbike and will look to acclimate quickly to the RSV4 to contend for the title in 2014.
Aprilia has been a top competitor in WorldSBK over the past few years, winning the 2013 Manufacturers Title and taking the top-step in the series with Max Biaggi in 2012. In total Aprilia has two rider titles, three manufacturer titles, 38 wins and 93 podiums in World Superbike.
“Coming back to ride the brand that brought me my first World Champion title is – first and foremost – very exciting,” says Melandri. “Speaking from a human and personal point of view, there are so many memories that tie me to Aprilia and they are memories of victories.
“In all these years Aprilia has demonstrated its worthiness in racing, winning one world title after another, so I am sure that I will find an environment where we are always ready to compete for victory. From a technical point of I am quite anxious to race on the RSV4, a bike that I have done battle with many times on the track. I think that she and I will… get along well, but the track, the first testing sessions and above all the races to come will give us the answer to that one. And then I think that riding an Italian bike into battle for the world title is amazing for an Italian rider. So follow along with us. It’s going to be an exciting and fun season.”
Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager adds, “Marco is a rider that we know well. He has already been a part of the Aprilia family, winning a fantastic world championship with our brand. His qualities certainly need no confirmation. He has demonstrated that he is capable of fighting for the title from the first round even in a Championship that is new to him. I’m sure that he’ll do well astride our RSV4, a bike that in my opinion is well suited for Marco’s riding style. With the signing of Melandri and confirmation of Sylvain Guintoli after his excellent 2013 season, our commitment in World Superbike is confirmed, with the intention of increasing the Aprilia collection of titles. I would also like to thank Eugene Laverty who had a fantastic season astride our RSV4, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”
There’s been no official word yet regarding Laverty’s plans for 2014 but the Belfast Telegraph reported on October 17, 2013 that Laverty has been in talks with Paul Denning of FIXI Crescent Suzuki. The report also alludes to interest from Pramac Ducati in MotoGP, speculation strengthened by the move of 2013 Aprilia Racing head Luigi Dall’Igna to CEO of Ducati Corse for 2014.