After a glorious era during which it won 270 Grand Prix motorcycle races (and 18 titles in the 500cc class alone with riders such as John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini) MV Agusta is ready to challenge for another world championship in Superbike. Or rather, almost ready.
The announcement that the Italian manufacturer based in Schiranna would officially compete in World Superbike came last November, somewhat late to prepare a title-contender bike. In fact, the F4 that debuted in Jerez during the same month with factory rider Claudio Corti was basically a stock version. In Portimão, however, an almost definitive iteration of the bike was pitted against long-time competitors such as Honda, Ducati and Aprilia.
"We brought new stuff, such as exhaust pipes, fuel tank, links for the rear suspension and an updated engine, which should give us about 10 horsepower more, even though we won't see the definitive version until the Aragon round in April," said Corti, who was two and a half seconds off the pace after the first day. "Our main priority is get kilometers under our belt, since we got kind of a late start."
MV Agusta's road (back) to the top is steep, though not impossible to cover. Its competitors have long-standing experience in the championship, and history shows it takes time to develop a winning machine. However, with major technical downsizing scheduled for 2015, the Italian factory has a chance to catch up quickly.
"When I first tried the bike, I was immediately impressed by the front's feedback and behavior," added Corti, who spent last year riding a Kawasaki-FTR in MotoGP. "We still need to work on the rear, especially to improve traction and turning. Kawasaki, as far as that goes, is the target. I know it's going to be tough, but I'm happy to finally have a two-year project in front of me. I live in Como, just a few miles from the factory, so I often drop by to see the development. I know the guys over there really know what they're doing. I'm confident I can do much better than in MotoGP."
Corti and his squad only have three more days of testing before pitting themselves against their rivals in Phillip Island, Australia, in February. Time is working against them, but necessity, some say, is the mother of invention.