Aprilia in SBK

Sportbike enthusiasts may have been a little disappointed that Aprilia didn't have anything groundbreaking to unveil at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan this year, but motorbike racing fans got some good news. Roberto Colaninno, head of parent company Piaggio, revealed that Aprilia will stage a return to MotoGP in 2016.

The Italian company has had its ups and downs in motorcycle racing these past few years. Although it has been a dominant presence in the lower-displacement classes for years, it failed to keep up with the competition in the top tier. In 2004 it finished sixth in the manufacturers' standings, behind major players Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Kawasaki and Suzuki, and left the series at the end of the year. Since then, however, Aprilia has been focusing on the rival Superbike World Championship, where it just tied up its third title in five years and propelled Max Biagi to his two riders' titles.

Aprilia's return to the grid in 2016 will make it the fifth participating manufacturer, joining current competitors Honda, Yamaha and Ducati as well as Suzuki which is returning in 2015.