According to news published in the Italian press this past weekend, Aprilia has pulled the plug on its Motorcycle GP participation for the 2005 racing season. Bad news not only for fans of the Italian brand but also for riders Shane Byrne and Jeremy McWilliams. Word from Piaggio, who just recently purchased Aprilia, is according to CEO Rocco Sabelli the withdrawal from the MotoGP World Championship stating: "To stay in MotoGP could cost a lot of money and damage our firm."
Sabelli although confirmed the companies further involvement in the smaller displacement classes "Aprilia haven't any doubt about maintaining our involvement in the 125 and 250 GP classes."
UK riders Shane Byrne and Jeremy McWilliams are by this announcement instantly left without a gig for next season. McWilliams is said to still have two offers on the table, one with his former Proton Team KR with whom he recently tested the new KTM V4 powered prototype motorcycle in Jerez. The second offer supposedly comes from British Superbike Team MonsterMob, who concluded their relationship with Ducati at the Macau Motorcycle GP and will be riding Honda next season.
Aprilia's race horse, the RS3 Cube made 48 starts with the triple cylinder designed by Cosworth over the past 3 years, with the best result being the sixth place by American Colin Edwards at Motegi in the 2003 Japan Grand Prix.
As another option regarding Aprilia's racing involvement, Italian sources also named the World Superbike Championship series. Official word on all the above although still has to be heard. Neither Aprilia, nor the brands new owner Piaggio have yet released an official statement on the reports.