The Mille Family - RSV & Tuono track test

With more inbreeding than a small Welsh village Aprilia's Mille engine comes in many guises. We took five of the best to Donington Park to put 'em through their paces

The mess that 72,000 people and a pit area full of race teams can make really is staggering. It's the day after the British GP and I'm looking over the now deserted Donington Park fields which only 24 hours earlier had been host to a record-breaking GP crowd attendance. Everywhere the eye can see there are fag packets, drink cans, paper, rubbish and other assorted bits of junk. An army of kids are swearing and complaining as they struggle to clear it all up.

And the pits aren't much better. Instead of the fast food packets the whole pit area is littered with empty cans of Repsol fuel, worn tyres, wooden boxes with manufacturer's names on and huge transporters preparing to start the journey to the next round at the Sachsenring or a Brno test session.

The track is also a mess, but in a good way. The entrance and exits to Coppice, Melbourne Loop and the Old Hairpin are covered in black lines left by the rear tyres of Rossi, Biaggi and the rest of the MotoGP gods and every now and then gouges and scrapes in the tarmac show where those who pushed that little bit too hard came to Earth with a bang.

The whole of Donington Park had a kind of ghost town feel about it, the gold rush had happened the day before and now the circuit was trying to deal with a massive come-down. Luckily a full trackday of riders pepped up from watching the racing the day before was on hand to restore life back to the track, and we had brought along some very special bikes to the after-show party.

Originally the plan had been to get the five best Aprilias we could find together and then let Aprilia MotoGP rider Colin Edwards loose on the track with them. Well, best laid plans and all that, this idea was scuppered when Aprilia arranged a last minute test for the Cube in Brno and Colin had to drive his motor home, complete with wife Alyssia and baby Gracie, across Europe as soon as the GP finished to make it. Never mind, we still had five Aprilias and Donington Park at our mercy.

To actually get all these bikes together in one place was something of a minor miracle to start with. Mille Rs aren't exactly two-a-penny, the Tuono is selling out faster than Aprilia can get them into the shops, only 45 Edwards reps will make it to the UK, when we did the test only one Tuono Racing was in the UK and only 150 Mille SPs were ever made, and that was in 1998! So all in all only missing Colin wasn't that bad really, and anyway we had a bike with his name on it so we could all pretend to be Colin for the day.

With all five bikes safely unloaded and lined up in the pit lane the one that really stands out from the bunch is the Tuono Racing. Why? Well, mainly because it was the one propped up against the wall as it didn't have its sidestand attached. Designed predominantly to take part in a race series in Italy in which entrants have to be naked road bikes, when you buy a Racing as well as the Öhlins suspension front and rear, steering damper and lightweight OZ you get over the standard Tuono you also get a carbon bellypan/oil catch tray, race can, carbon nose cone, pre-drilled bolts and reverse gear linkage for racing. Unfortunately, if you fit the bellypan you can't fit the sidestand too. But never mind, it does look cool propped up against the local newsagent's wall.