Simoncelli To Ride Aprilia RSV4 At Imola?

Marco Simoncelli's future may already be fixed, the Italian 250 star having decided to move up to the MotoGP class with Gresini Honda, but the Piaggio Group hasn't quite given up on the Italian yet. Before Simoncelli announced his future, Aprilia had tried to keep him within the fold by persuading the Italian to switch to the World Superbike series, allowing him to test the RSV4 Superbike during the winter in the hope that this might persuade him.

Though Simoncelli's decision came down on the side of MotoGP, he isn't quite done with World Superbikes. For according to the Italian websites and, Simoncelli is testing the Aprilia at Mugello alongside Mattia Pasini who is currently testing the Ducati Desmosedici. The point of the test is to see whether Simoncelli believes he is capable of being fast enough on a relatively unknown bike to compete in Sunday's round of World Superbikes at Imola, as a substitute for the injured Shinya Nakano. reports that the official argument is that Simoncelli is too far behind to have a chance at the 250cc title, conceding a 40 point deficit to Hiroshi Aoyama with 4 races to go, and that therefore the risk to Simoncelli's title chances are minimal. But according to, the pressure to race is coming from Aprilia rather than Simoncelli, for though Simoncelli is very happy to be testing, he is less keen on racing at Imola, a circuit which has attracted criticism for still having a couple of very dangerous spots around the track, despite the changes made recently. Simoncelli and Aprilia are due to make a decision on whether to race or not at the end of Wednesday, once the test has been completed.

If Simoncelli decides against racing, Aprilia will turn to current test rider Alex Hofmann to take the place of the injured Nakano. But all Italy is hoping that SuperSic (Simoncelli's nickname in Italy) will race, and have two Italians - the hallowed veteran Max Biaggi and the young upstart Simoncelli - aboard an Italian racing motorcycle.

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I would love to see Simoncelli race the Aprilia. I think the more time he has on other bikes will make him a more rounded racer.

If his racing or not is an indicator of 'fire in his gut', I hope his gut is as cold as ice. If he does great, nothing changes. If he fails, everyone doubts his talent. If he gets hurt, he could lose it all. Maybe fire in the belly means rocks in the head.

Why take the risk (of injury)? I'm surprised his current contract or the one he has for next year allows it.

Simoncelli - who is his contract with? If it is with Aprilia directly then it shows excellent foresight on the part of the factory (and Simoncelli's manager). If it is with the team (assuming it is not Aprilia proper), then I have to agree - I am surprised.

I cannot speak about motorcycle racing, but (other than F1 drivers) many, many current drivers appear to have clauses that allow them to race at the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans, even Petit Le Mans and the Bathurst 1000. In the "old days", racing in multiple series was the norm.

What about the Isle of Mann TT?