Aprilia have finally confirmed that they will be providing factory backing for the Milwaukee SMR squad in WorldSBK in 2017. It had been an open secret for months that the Milwaukee team were looking to make a switch to Aprilia, and they had signed Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori to contest the championship for them. But it took a long time for the official confirmation to come through.
One of the key factors in the choice, for both Laverty and Milwaukee SMR was to have strong factory support from Aprilia for the 2017 season. The Aprilia RSV4 RF is still widely viewed as the best package on the WorldSBK grid inside the paddock, subject to the condition that the team running the bike has support from the Noale factory. The bike is quite finicky in set up, and only the factory engineers have the necessary data to get the set up just right.
With Laverty and Savadori signed, that leaves Karel Abraham and Josh Brookes out of a ride for next year. It also leaves the IODA racing team without support from Aprilia. At this moment, what will happen to them is unclear.
Below is the press release from Aprilia on the link up with Milwaukee SMR:
APRILIA RSV4 MACHINES ON THE TRACK NEXT YEAR IN WORLD SBK WITH MILWAUKEE APRILIA RACING TEAM
THE BIKES WILL BE RIDDEN BY ITALIAN LORENZO SAVADORI AND NORTHERN IRISHMAN EUGENE LAVERTY IN THE RACES
Two Aprilia RSV4 bikes will be on the track in the 2017 World Superbike Championship with the Milwaukee Aprilia Racing Team colours.
This is a two-year contract, so it will also be valid for 2018.
The agreement specifies that technical material and related direct assistance and support will be provided by Aprilia Racing, including bike development, which classifies Milwaukee as a Supported Factory Team.
This means that Aprilia Racing - the Piaggio Group racing department and technological point of excellence in the Italian motorcycle industry - is confirming its high level presence in the premier competition for factory derivative bikes, alongside its important efforts in MotoGP.
The goal is to compete at top levels in World SBK in order to emphasize the competitiveness of the Aprilia RSV4, capable of taking no less than seven World Titles (three Rider and four Manufacturer) between 2010 and 2014, proving to be the most victorious bike in recent WSBK history.
The result of a project intended to create a true racing bike that any enthusiast could have, the RSV4 astonished from its rookie season, winning a race in its maiden year and then racking up repeated championship wins in both the Manufacturer and Rider competitions (twice with Max Biaggi and once with Sylvain Guintoli). All this while the street version - obviously also characterized by an exclusive narrow 1.0 litre V4 - continued to win comparative reviews year after year with the best competitors in the world, both European and Japanese.
The team run by Shaun Muir, which boasts two British titles, will be able to count on a top shelf rider lineup: in addition to the 2015 Superstock Champion Lorenzo Savadori, who quickly drew attention this year in his rookie World Superbike season, Northern Irishman Eugene Laverty will be back in WSBK, 2013 runner up astride none other than an Aprilia RSV4.
Romano Albesiano - Aprilia Racing Manager
"Shaun Muir's team, after making a good name for themselves in the British championship, wants to get to the top of a world category. Our agreement includes, in addition to providing bikes and materials, support from Aprilia Racing personnel to manage and develop the RSV4, within a Factory Support type relationship.
The birth of the Milwaukee Aprilia Racing Team also marks Eugene Laverty's return to WSBK, a rider who we know well and whose professional and personal qualities have our utmost respect. He will have Lorenzo Savadori working alongside him, a young rider who has been part of our sports project for two seasons in which he won the Superstock 1000 title first and then drew attention in WSBK with an extremely positive rookie year".
Shaun Muir - SMR General Manager
"For SMR, collaboration with Aprilia Racing for 2017 and 2018 means a real chance to fight for the win. Aprilia has a strong and victorious history in World Superbike and we are determined to continue on the same path. Having Eugene and Lorenzo on board makes this a dream team. Without a doubt, Eugene is coming back to WSBK for one reason only - to win. Lorenzo, on the other hand, is the fastest rookie and a sure protagonist. I wish to thank Milwaukee, Gulf and all of the partners who are supporting our project".
"I'm excited to return to Superbike with Aprilia and the RSV4, a bike with which I took ten wins and second place overall in the championship. I hope to be able to pick up where I left off with those results, thanks to the support of Aprilia and a fantastic team like Shaun Muir's. Everything is in place for us to be competitive straight away".
"I am very happy to continue my adventure in World Superbike with Aprilia. This is another chance to achieve great results, with one more year of experience on the RSV4 for me. In a demanding rookie season I was already able to express a good performance level, learning a lot, both about race management and working in the garage, but I do not want to stop here. We will definitely be highly motivated at the start, with an ambitious project and a great desire to do well".
Jason Chiswell - Vice President of Marketing Milwaukee Tools
"At Milwaukee Power tools our vision is always to win and that same mentality is shared with the SMR team. We see the next year with Aprilia as being an exciting and a new winning chapter in our World Superbike program”.
Frank Rutten - Vice President of Gulf Oil International
"As the world’s fastest growing oil brand we are very excited by the prospect of moving forwards with what we believe will be one of the most rapid teams in SBK next year. We have been extremely impressed by the way SMR has entered the World Superbike arena. They are one of the best organized and most professional outfits in the paddock and we have developed an excellent working relationship with both them and the team’s title sponsor, Milwaukee Tools.
We are very excited by the prospect of moving forwards with them as team sponsor and official lubricant partners”.