Aprilia debuted in the Dakar Rally with the Tuareg in 1989. However, the Noale factory’s RXV Rally 450 twin achieved Aprilia’s best results in the World’s Toughest Race. The innovative platform not only earned three stage victories in 2010, but also finished third overall. The RXV contested its last Dakar in 2012 and the Italian marque has remained out of the race for years due to homologation rules.
Aprilia hopes to change that in the near future with its ‘Back to Africa’ project.
“We are picking up the baton from a history of great successes,” claimed Aprilia Racing Technical Director Romano Albesiano. “Aprilia is the only Italian brand to have won a stage of the Dakar Rally and, in 2010, we took the last podium in the overall ranking.”
Of course, the Dakar Rally only allows single-cylinder machines with capacities up to 450cc. The Aprilia Tuareg 660’s parallel twin doesn’t quite meet those regulations. Nevertheless, the brand will develop its middleweight ADV as a rally-ready race bike alongside GCorse’s Gianfranco and Vittoriano Guareschi.
The brothers previously equipped the modern-day Tuareg to contend in the 2022 Italian MotoRally Championship. The partnership will continue in 2023, with Dakar vet Jacopo Cerutti and promising newcomer Francesco Montanari piloting the 660 in this year’s MotoRally.
“With its ‘Back to Africa’ project, Aprilia Racing is returning to the world of off-road racing, to the races that forged the division,” confirmed Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola. “We want to discover new talent through our SP 250 Championship and the RS 660 Trophy, but we are also embarking on a completely new project with the extraordinary Aprilia Tuareg. It’s an additional sign of development for a racing division that has grown significantly over the past years achieving results never before seen by Aprilia.”
In addition to supporting Cerutti and Montanari, Aprilia Racing will also assist competitors in the new entry-level GPX category.
“These are just the first steps in a completely new project, and the purpose of the 2023 season will be to start us on the path that will take us back to the great desert races,” added Albesiano. “But one thing is certain: the bike will be forged from the values that have always marked Aprilia’s racing endeavors: innovation in the service of performance.”
Now, until the Dakar Rally alters its rules to accommodate the Tuareg, Aprilia will need to test its project at other venues. However, we’re excited to see the House of Noale so intent on re-entering the rally world.