Spaniard Aleix Espargaro has publicly acknowledged informing his current Aspar MotoGP squad that he wants to quit and ride a new Yamaha YZR-M1 engine and chassis project in the Forward Racing outfit next season.
It has long been rumoured that Espargaro, older brother of Moto2 title contender Pol Espargaro, was looking to clinch a Forward Racing switch, with the Italian squad running Yamaha’s new non-factory YZR-M1 in 2014.
Espargaro has dominated the CRT category on Aprilia’s ART machine but he made it clear today on the eve of the Motorland Aragon clash in Spain that he feels he’s taken the Aprilia project as far as he can and he wants a fresh challenge and motivation.
Espargaro is under contract to the Aspar squad, which is run by Spanish GP legend Jorge Martinez, for next season and to buy himself out of his existing deal comes with a hefty penalty clause of 600,000 Euros.
Aspar and Forward Racing have been locked in talks about an amicable solution, with Espargaro adamant that he doesn’t want to face a third season on the spin riding the Aprilia ART machine.
Speaking in Spain earlier today, Espargaro said: “I am motivated to change bikes and I am doing a big effort to move but it is not easy. Both teams are in talks and we think we are closer but nothing is yet decided. I hope in a couple of days I will have some news. I feel really good with the Aspar team and I don't really want to leave. It is like family and a really competitive team but I have a motivation to ride another bike. Sometimes you need to find motivation and I really want to change bikes."
Favourite to replace Espargaro at Aspar is 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden, though it doesn’t appear there will be an announcement on the American’s deal this weekend as had been forecast.
Espargaro will partner experienced Texan Colin Edwards at Forward Racing on a YZR-M1 engine and chassis package that will run non-factory rules including 24 litres and the Dorna-supplied Magneti Marelli electronics hardware and software.