Mugello GP Preview From Aprilia

Brent Avis
by Brent Avis
Built in 1974, the Mugello International Racetrack hosted the firstmotorcycling Grand Prix in 1976. A modern, technical circuit with someunique features: there are fast curves followed by tight corners whichare difficult to negotiate, and the track rises and falls continuouslyagainst the splendid backdrop of the hills of Tuscany. In the long finalstraight, which rises slightly towards the end, extraordinary speeds canbe attained.

Owned by Ferrari, which has made it the #1 circuit for F1,Mugello also boasts some exceptional characteristics for the Grand Prix.So it is hardly surprising that Aprilia should use it as itscompetition-bike test bed. The most recent of all, the RS Cube, has spentpart of its adolescence right here. Mugello is the venue for the ItalianGrand Prix and is thus a very important event for both riders andmanufacturers. The hills around the circuit will be filled with fans ofthe great World Championship stars...

In terms of color, sound and"warmth", it may well be considered as the most important event of theentire championship.

The circuit: 5,245 metresleft curves: 6right curves: 9longest straight: 1,141 metresMaximum width: 14 metresYear of construction: 19742001 winners.125 Class: Ueda (Jap) Honda250 Class: Harada (Jap) Aprilia500 Class: Barros (Bra) Honda.Circuit records.125: Locatelli 2:00.029 (2000)250: Nakano 1:54.462 (2000)500: Doohan 1:53,342 (1998). REGIS LACONI -- MotoGP -- Aprilia RS3

Back from a very important rendezvous - his "home" race in the FrenchGrand Prix - Régis is now coming up to another key moment in this year'schampionship: the Italian Grand Prix. Considering his dual nationality,he is getting ready for his second "home" race of the year. There is thusa dual responsibility, with both Régis and Aprilia racing an "Italian"race: but, of course, this is also where the RS Cube has clocked up manyof the kilometres it has covered in its brief life. Both bike and riderknow this track very well, so it should not present all the surprisesthat some of the other world championship circuits hold in store for thefour-stroke from Noale when it comes on to them for the very first time-- making the work really hard for all those involved. In the pausebetween the race in France and the Italian Grand Prix, no tests have beencarried out, so Régis has been able to take a rest after the considerablepressure he was put under during the Le Mans weekend. In France, Laconimade ninth place - the RS Cube's best placing so far on a dry track -and he was particularly pleased with this result, as he was with theovation he received from the French public on his return from the GP. Afew day's rest in his chalet in the Swiss Alps and today he startsgetting ready for the race at Mugello: two 50-kilometre rides on hisracing bicycle and then into the gym where he will be working with hisathletics trainer to build up his stamina.

"A few days' rest has got me back on board: I was as much physicallytired as nervously exhausted. It's normal, really, at these importantevents where you're so emotionally involved. Sure, I know I'll be infor the same sort of pressure during the race in Italy - which is, afterall, my second country -- as well as being Aprilia's home ground. Weknow all the ins and outs of the track and we've been round it lots oftimes, even though never in ideal weather conditions: there's often beenstrong wind or driving rain, but it's certainly where the RS Cube reallystarted to take off. Mugello is where we've got the most information anddata about how the bike behaves. We're going to do our best, so we'llimmediately try to find the best set-up of the bike in the first testsessions on Friday. I'll be talking things over with the technicians,but I think that for the very first sorties we'll be using differentset-ups so we can work out the best solutions. We'll be concentrating onthe choice of tyres, as the track is much more abrasive than the one wewere on in the last race in France. I love this track - it'sextraordinarily technical and fast, and the two corners, Arrabbiata 1 and2, have no equal the world over. This is where I want to get a greatresult. We need it - the time has indeed come.

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