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It's twins! Aprilia go big

Aprilia designer/engineer Jan Witteveen was the first to take advantage of the rules which allowed 500cc Grand Prix twin-cylinder bikes to have a minimum weight of 105kg, compared to a four-cylinder bike's 130kg. Honda followed in 1996 with the NSR500V. Aprilia began its premier class campaign in 1994 with their RSV250 V-twin enlarged to 410cc ridden by Loris Reggiani. For 1996 a dedicated chassis was used (rather than a modified 250 unit) and capacity grew to 430cc and then to 460cc half way through 1997. After using 1998 as a development year the team returned for the '99 season with Tetsuya Harada on a bike now at 498cc. He was joined by Jeremy McWilliams for 2000 who scored a brace of third places. The pair finished in the year in 14th and 16th positions by which time Aprilia were claiming 140bhp. But the brutal truth was that the twins got overtaken on the straights, and held up in corners by the fours that had just overtaken them. This is Doriano Romboni's 1997 430cc bike on which he scored Aprilia's first 500cc class podium - a 3rd at Assen. 125bhp, 110kg dry. Copyright Phil Aynsley: more pics in Benzina 16, available on the shop page


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