The all-Italian duo remained in the lead from start to finish for the six thousand plus kilometres over breathtaking roads, trails, sand, and dunes. From Monaco to the magical pink lake of Dakar, Jacopo Cerutti and his Aprilia Tuareg chose the most thrilling way to win the 2024 edition of the Africa Eco Race, dominating and writing one of the most epic pages in the recent history of big African raids.

The Italian pair departed on their début, reckoning with adversaries who were extremely talented and, above all, highly expert on the legendary route that goes from Europe to Dakar through Morocco and Mauritania.

The Aprilia Tuareg, developed from the factory product by Aprilia Racing with the technical collaboration of the Guareschi brothers’ GCorse, tackled the African trails and the desert for the first time. Of course, during 2023, the bike had already proven itself, winning the Italian Motorally title in its début and taking a spectacular podium in the Transanatolia rally in Turkey, where it had its first taste of big raids. But taking on the African desert for the first time on a route that has made off-road history, promised to be much more difficult.

The Aprilia riders, Jacopo Cerutti and Francesco Montanari, approached the race with confidence from the start, armed with a bike that had already proved to be a formidable weapon, thanks to the quality of the original project.

His victory in the special trials of the first two days allowed Cerutti to build up an advantage over extremely strong rivals like Botturi and Tarres, both on Yamaha, who attacked constantly in an attempt to come back.

Speed, perfect strategy, and the reliability of the Tuareg are the values that led Aprilia and Cerutti to their Dakar triumph.

For Francesco Montanari, a true rookie, finishing the race in Dakar was a fantastic result. To this, he added two podiums in as many legs, as well as being a constant presence in the top end of the standings for the special trials and a fabulous eighth place overall.

Massimo Rivola – Aprilia Racing CEO

“What Jacopo did, winning in Dakar, is unprecedented. It is a truly enormous sports undertaking that exalts a great champion, an exceptional Italian bike, designed, developed, and manufactured here in Noale, and an incredible job done by Aprilia Racing and the Guareschis, to whom I extend my special thanks. Having led from the first day of one of the most difficult races in the world,

competing with extremely skilled adversaries, is an extraordinary sign of strength that went beyond our wildest expectations.”

Vittoriano Guareschi – GCorse

“Fantastic! Jacopo was exceptional throughout the entire race, always setting the pace. The second leg was the key, with that leap ahead in the standings which then allowed him to manage the competition like a great champion. Francesco also did a great job, taking the bike to Dakar in his début and even snatching satisfaction in the special trials more than once. What the entire team did is incredible. It was our first experience against extremely skilled adversaries, such as the Yamaha team, which is extremely experienced, especially in the part of the desert in Mauritania.

The bike was perfect – never a problem. With this triumph, the Tuareg project demonstrated all of its base qualities: balanced weight, suspension travel, the character of the engine, and the quality of the materials. The factory bike already sets a great bar.”

Jacopo Cerutti

“It is all wonderful. It was an honour for me to collaborate in the development of the bike with Aprilia Racing and GCorse. In very little time, we reached incredible milestones and I honestly did not think that we would manage to be as ready as we were at the start of this event. However, I knew that the factory Tuareg already provided us with an outstanding starting base and then the rest is down to the great job the entire team did over the past few months. I certainly didn’t expect to win. Maybe starting the race without the pressure of being one of the favourites was a good thing and a bit of good luck also helped, which is never a bad thing because in an African raid, the unexpected is always just around the corner, but instead, everything seemed to go smoothly. A fantastic experience and feeling. Now we can enjoy the celebration.”

Francesco Montanari

“I’m extremely happy to have arrived in Dakar and to have managed to improve leg after leg, finishing in the top positions a few times. All of this was possible because I was placed in the ideal conditions to express my potential. The bike is fantastic to ride and the entire team did an exceptional job, both preparing for the race and during these two weeks in Africa. So, I wish to thank Aprilia for this opportunity and all the members of team GCorse for the constant support. I’m obviously also happy about Jacopo’s splendid victory. He did extremely well and he deserves it. I hope that this will be a starting place for me. I would like to continue improving because I think I demonstrated that I’m able to make a play of it with the best.”

Aprilia Racing, a legend born with off-road competition

Off-road competitions were Aprilia’s début racing terrain. It’s no surprise for a brand which, from its very first ’70s era models like the Scarabeo, had revealed its soul dedicated to the off-road world. In 1974, the first racing bike from Noale was a 125 cross. As early as 1977, the first Italian titles arrived in the 125 and 250 classes. Then, in 1978, came the first podiums and the win in the Cross World Championship.

In 1985, the speed racing adventure began for Aprilia Racing in World Championship GP Motorcycle Racing, but the first world title came from trial in 1992. From the off-road world, seven more world titles would arrive, from 2004 to 2011, with the SXV 450 and 550 twin-cylinders protagonists in the Supermoto championship, earning three Rider titles and four Manufacturer titles.

After an epic first appearance in the Paris-Dakar with Tuareg in 1989, Aprilia returned to the big race in the desert in 2010 with the revolutionary RXV Rally 450 twin-cylinder, which participated

in three consecutive editions of the Dakar until 2012. The spectacular Rally took three leg victories straight away and finished third overall in 2010, just missing the spectacular achievement of winning in its début.

To this day, Aprilia remains the last Italian manufacturer to have won a leg in the Dakar, in 2012.