Aprilia to compete in the Africa Eco Race

About a year ago, Aprilia announced that it is embarking on an ambitious project code-named “Back to Africa.” As the name suggests, Aprilia will be back to competing rallies in harsh Saharan conditions using the Tuareg 660.

Now, it has come to fruition as the Italian brand competes in the grueling Africa Eco Race (AER), fielding two of its finest rally-prepped Tuaregs.

Aprilia Tuareg back in Africa rally competition image

The Tuareg 660s that will be competing in the AER were developed and prepped by none other than Aprilia Racing, in close coordination with GCorse of the Guareschi brothers. This will also mark Aprilia’s return to its first love off-road racing where it debuted decades ago.

Additionally, by taking part in the AER, Aprilia will once again be traveling through legendary places and routes of the historic African Dakar, thereby bringing to mind the successful experience of Aprilia’s last participation (the last Italian bike to win at the Dakar) in the most famous rally raid in the world, in the period from 2010 to 2012.

Aprilia Tuareg back in Africa rally competition image

In the able hands of factory riders Jacopo Cerutti and Francesco Montanari, the Aprilia Tuareg developed for rally raids is built on the excellent technical base of the bike which, closely derived from the factory model, triumphed in its début in the Italian Motorally G-1000 class championship, with Jacopo Cerutti skilfully dominating in six of the eight trials held and taking a brilliant absolute victory against the lighter, specialized enduro single-cylinders in the Rally of Sardinia. An overwhelming year where Francesco Montanari also ended up on the final podium of the Italian championship, ranking third in the general standings.

Thanks to the experience gained in the Italian Motorally and the participation in September in the first international race, the Transanatolia Rally with Cerutti winning one leg and finishing third overall, the development of the Aprilia Tuareg for the AER progressed quickly which is proof of the outstanding off-road capabilities of the stock Tuareg.

In the initial stage, the focus was on the chassis architecture and then on finding the best possible engine performance in the prohibitive racing conditions anticipated. Last, but not least, the adoption of a supplementary fuel tank increased the range, necessary for covering the long rally raid distances.

Aprilia Tuareg back in Africa rally competition image

The Aprilia Tuareg competition version is fitted with Öhlins by Andreani suspension, a complete SC Project exhaust in titanium, and a specific Sprint Filter air filter.

After the official start in Monaco, the bikes and equipment will be shipped out to Morocco where they’ll get down to business on 2 January, with the first of the 12 legs scheduled. The goal is to reach the legendary finish at Lac Rose, in Dakar, on January 14.

Aprilia Tuareg back in Africa rally competition image

Africa Eco Race is an annual rally raid event, organized in France and runs in North and West Africa. The AER was launched after the cancellation of the 2008 Dakar Rally with an emphasis on security issues and sustainable development in the region.