The news that 1000cc production-based engines will be allowed to race in MotoGP alongside the prototypes appears to be having some unexpected consequences. After at first announcing their intention to offer cut-price Aprilia RSA 250s to run in Moto2, and then dropping that idea to concentrate on building a chassis for the Moto2 class to wrap around the spec Honda engine due to be used, the Spanish website Motoworld.es is reporting that Aprilia may decide to switch tack altogether.
According to the reports, Aprilia will instead start work on plans to enter the MotoGP series, dropping their support for the Moto2 class altogether. Five teams had already been lined up to use Aprilia's Moto2 chassis, but hints that the project had been shelved appeared when news broke that Julian Simon and Mike di Meglio of the Aspar team are testing the BQR chassis at Valencia today. Aspar has very close links to the Aprilia factory, and so their choice to test a different chassis could be interpreted as a sign that they have already been informed that Aprilia's plans have changed, and there will not be an Aprilia chassis.
Aprilia will reportedly redeploy the resources that would have gone into their Moto2 program, and set up a second World Superbike team, to continue the development of their RSV4 machine. That team could feature the currently unemployed Alex de Angelis, according to the senior American journalist Dennis Noyes. De Angelis is known to be carrying a sizeable chunk of sponsorship from the Republic of San Marino, and though that sponsorship may not have been enough to get him into MotoGP, it could well be enough to fund a competitive World Superbike effort.
The intention of Aprilia to enter MotoGP raises and interesting dilemma, and could pose a real legal problem for the new regulations. For Aprilia to enter MotoGP as a factory, they would have to put together a completely new prototype, which uses none of the parts from their current Aprilia RSV4 Superbike. Their other option would be to build a chassis and engine kit to sell to privateer teams, but this could land the MotoGP series in trouble. If the chassis bears more than a passing resemblance to the one used on the RSV4, Infront Motor Sports, the commercial rights holder for World Superbikes, would be almost certain to mount a sustained legal effort to get the bike - and possible the MotoGP regulations - banned. Given that the current RSV4 is probably the closest thing on the market to a MotoGP bike that the general public can buy, it is hard to see a potential Aprilia 1000cc production-based MotoGP bike being a whole heap different.
The news - if true, of course - does highlight that the switch to 1000cc is a move in the direction that Dorna and the FIM were hoping for. The organizers have presented the switch back to 1000cc as a way of getting more MotoGP bikes on the grid, and if there's already interest from Aprilia just a couple of weeks after the news started to surface, that's a sure sign that the grids in 2012 will be a good deal fuller than they are now.