THE “BACK TO AFRICA” PROJECT ENTERS THE DECISIVE STAGE, WITH THE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME GOING HAND IN HAND WITH THE COMMITMENT TO THE TRICOLORE MOTORALLY
IN UMBERTIDE JACOPO CERUTTI TAKES ONE FIRST AND ONE SECOND PLACE AND MAINTAINS THE LEAD IN THE OVERALL STANDINGS. FRANCESCO MONTANARI ALSO ON THE PODIUM
Umbertide (Perugia), 5 June 2023 – The return of the Aprilia brand to the big African raids draws ever closer. The new Aprilia Tuareg prototype developed to compete in the desert has travelled its first kilometres of tests with positive feedback from both Aprilia Racing factory riders, Jacopo Cerutti and Francesco Montanari.
Unveiled in a sneak preview to the public on 27 May during the big Aprilia All Stars celebration, the Tuareg developed for rally raids is born on the technical base of the bike which, closely derived from the stock model, is currently a great protagonist in the Italian Motorally Championship, terrain chosen to set up the development path of the “Back to Africa” project.
Developed by Aprilia Racing with the collaboration of Gcorse, owned by the Guareschi brothers, the Aprilia Tuareg born for desert races exploits the brilliant off-road base features of the stock Tuareg 660, introducing the appropriate modifications required to tackle the severe African raids. In this first stage of the work, focus was placed on the chassis architecture, with a new modular frame and revisited geometries to guarantee stability at high speeds and greater suspension travel. Development will continue over the coming months with an initial engine development step and a first supplementary tank.
The competition version of the Aprilia Tuareg 660 is outfitted with Öhlins by Andreani suspension, entirely titanium SC Project exhaust, and specific Sprint Filter air filter. The collaboration with Metzeler was priceless, as they are increasingly more interested in the twin-cylinder adventure world and chose Aprilia to develop the products for a future commitment in rally raids.
After successfully completing the first tests at the Riola Sardo motocross circuit, this weekend, Aprilia Racing and GCorse were back to competing for the 5th and 6th trial of the Italian Motorally Championship in Umbertide. Both of the factory Aprilia Tuareg 660 Metzeler shod machines, entrusted to Jacopo Cerutti and Francesco Montanari, reconfirmed their status as great protagonists in the G-1000 class, reserved for multi-cylinder bikes over 600 cc.
Second in the rally on Saturday, reduced by half due to inclement weather, Jacopo Cerutti redeemed himself the next day, finishing the G-1000 in the lead – placing solidly, as always, in the overall order at sixth – after an exciting battle that came down to seconds with Alessandro Botturi (Yamaha). This is a victory that allows him to hold on to the lead in the overall standings in view of the final round on the calendar, scheduled for late October. Francesco Montanari also stood out, sixth on Saturday and finishing with an outstanding third place on Sunday.
At the Umbertide round, more than 50 riders also had the chance to swing a leg over the Aprilia Tuareg 660 for a special off-road test ride on the fantastic routes that provided the setting for the Motorally round. All of the participants, welcomed with a technical presentation by brothers Gianfranco and Vittoriano Guareschi alongside the bikes competing in the race, had the opportunity to learn in-depth about the performance of the twin-cylinder adventure bike from Noale in a unique and engaging setting.
"The sensations in the saddle of the first Tuareg prototype for the desert were immediately positive! There is still much work to do, but we are confident in view of the next development steps because the starting base in terms of chassis architecture is outstanding. After the tests in Sardinia, we got back to racing in Umbertide, bringing home results that now allow us to arrive at the final round of the championship leading in the standings. We’ll be in the mix all the way to the end, and this should leave us satisfied and proud. The only disappointment was Saturday. I had struggled a bit in the first special, but in the second, which was cancelled due to inclement weather, I had managed to close the gap and I would have been able to take a win that would have been beneficial to us. I started Sunday on the attack. There were two really short special trials planned for the rally and I knew that there would be a minimum margin for error. It was a question of seconds against Botturi and, in the end, despite a mistake in the second special trial, I managed to snatch it. The feeling with the bike and with the Metzeler tyres was optimum, especially at the rear, the tyre held up well despite the power and I was always able to count on plenty of traction.”
“The first test with the Tuareg for African races was fantastic. You can feel the improvements on the chassis architecture level straight away and they let you force the pace more easily. I think we are headed in the right direction. On the first day of the Umbertide Motorally, unfortunately I didn’t ride well. I made various mistakes in navigation, late in reading the notes and consequently losing ground. On the second day, things went better. Knowing that we would tackle short and fast special trials, I tried to ride more smoothly and it went well in the end, with a good placement on the podium that lets me arrive at the final round in third place overall.”
Outstanding confirmation in the Italian GPX Championship as well
In Umbria the Aprilia Tuareg 660’s outstanding progress continued in the Italian GPX Championship, born this year to open up the discipline to the many off-road enthusiasts thanks to simpler navigation via GPS. The two Tuareg 660 bikes competing in the GPX are basically stock models, equipped only with the minimum modifications required to tackle the competition.
Michele Pradelli finished on the podium in both of the trials scheduled with one second and one third place. Paolo Pettinari, on the other hand, took home two sixth places which allow him to maintain third in the overall championship standings with just three rounds left to go (20, 21, and 22 October in Sardinia).
This performance makes the Tuareg 660 a point of reference among twin-cylinder adventure bikes for any enthusiast looking for a bike with which to approach off-road competitions in the easiest and most fun way.