The news has been leaked, announced and reported for the last couple of weeks, but finally today Aprilia announced its partnership with Alitalia, to act as title sponsor for the Noale factory's World Superbike squad. At the bike launch - held rather spectacularly at Rome's Fiumicino airport - Aprilia's new head of Product Development and Strategy, Maurizio Roman, unveiled the Aprilia's new livery, flaunting the Italian tricolor red, green and white as used by the Italian flag carrier. The actual financial details of the deal were not discussed, though as both Alitalia and the Piaggio Group are owned in part by Italian tycoon Roberto Colaninno, it is hard to regard the deal as outside sponsorship of the industry.
The presentation also confirmed the departure of Giampiero Sacchi, Aprilia's director of racing for the past ten or so years. Sacchi's resignation came as part of a reorganization of Aprilia's management, which the Aprilia Racing and Product Development manager Leo Mercanti described to GPOne.com as a "rejuvenation". Aprilia's race engineer Gigi Dall'Igna will take on the main workload of running Aprilia's racing efforts and especially the Superbike team. As Dall'Igna has been a key part of the Noale factory's racing program over the past few years, he was the obvious choice to take on the extra responsibilities left behind by Sacchi's departure.
For a full gallery of images of Aprilia's rather beautiful RSV4R in full Alitalia regalia, head over to the Spanish site DailyMotos.com, who have reasonable-scale images of the bike.