MotoGP: Massimo Rivola’s first interview as Aprilia Racing CEO

Massimo Rivola is the new Aprilia Racing CEO and Sporting Director. The former Ferrari F1 Team member will help the Italian manufacturer in achieving the results they aim for, as Aprilia have been struggling since when their MotoGP return back in 2015. Rivola was interviewed by Paolo Ianieri and Luigi Perna for Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

«At the beginning, I will focus on motorsport. I’ve been involved in racing for 21 years and this is the reason why they offered me this job. Aprilia want to be competitive everywhere, also in production. They’re the benchmark of Gruppo Piaggio for what concerns technology, reputation and know-how».


How were your first days as Aprilia Racing CEO?

«I got to know the people working in Noale (where Aprilia Headquarters is located, ed) and despite my previous experiences in Minardi, Toro Rosso and Ferrari, I’m impressed by the quality, expertise and loyalty found in Aprilia Racing Department. Some people have been working there for 20 years and I think this is an important basis to start from. We have the people and weapons we need to do well. Aprilia is much smaller than Honda or Ducati, but its corporate culture, according to which things must be done well and efficiently, is peerless and precious. Minardi and Ferrari are real benchmarks for me, but the expertise I’ve found in Aprilia makes me confident for this new adventure. Here I can and must make the difference. To be honest, it feels great».

What’s missing to Aprilia?

«Just good results. But if we achieve them, we’ll find more sponsors and our brand will boast more credibility and strength. I used to ride motorcycles at Mugello, before Stefano Domenicali forbid me to do it, and in Aprilia I’ve felt such passion again. They’ve won 54 World Championship titles so far and they want to achieve some more. And racing fans want it too».

This year you’re working with Andrea Iannone and Aleix Espargaró.

«I will meet them soon, so far we’ve just spoken via telephone. Andrea has impressed me for being so willing to work. He’s got the speed and I really love it. If he’s in the right conditions, he can be very strong and make the whole team progress. I have no experience in managing riders, but they seem more instinctive than car drivers. What matters is that they feel part of a project and understand that hunger, humility and loyalty are decisive in this world. We can be a good coach, but goals and assists must come from the players».

How did you get in touch first with Aprilia?

«At the end of last October I got a call from an unknown number. I usually don’t reply in these cases, but that time I did and the first phrase I heard was: “I am Roberto Colaninno (Gruppo Piaggio CEO and Chairman, ed) and I would like to meet you”. At the beginning I thought it was a joke and nearly replied “And I’m Spiderman”, but when I met both Roberto and his son, I understood it was all true. We spent three hours together, but it felt like three minutes. I was working at Ferrari and on my way home I said to myself: “I’ve worked so hard to become part of Ferrari, I can’t leave now”. However, I knew that something was going to happen at the end of the year. Later on, I had a meeting with Aprilia and then I liked their offer more and more. I was in Macau when someone wrote about my move to Aprilia and one of the first people calling me was Suzuki’s Davide Brivio: “Congratulations, finally you’ll join us”».

Have you already set a goal for this season?

«Yes, but I don’t want to speak it. 2018 was a negative year for Aprilia, but Gruppo Piaggio have invested a lot of money, hired important technicians, signed Andrea Iannone and established a test team. All of this means that they want to be back in the front. We have the lowest budget among factory MotoGP teams, but I think that Aprilia is better than KTM».

Will you attend every 2019 MotoGP race?

«Yes and I’ll also be there for test days. What I have to do is to give Romano Albesiano (Aprilia Racing Technical Director and former Racing Manager, ed) the right conditions in order to make the most of the bike, that will be developed during the season. Winter test were crucial and Iannone gave us some important indications. But now, no opportunity can be wasted…».


Translated by Alessandro Palma

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