Spaniard Alvaro Bautista will remain with the Gresini squad in 2015 after agreeing a two-year deal to lead the Italian factory’s return to MotoGP next season.
Just days after Gresini Racing announced it was ending an 18-year association with Honda to collaborate with Aprilia in a new four-year deal, Aprilia announced last night that Bautista will be one rider.
That was not a surprise, but what is a shock is Marco Melandri appears to have ruled himself out of a return to MotoGP, having been strongly linked to the Aprilia ride.
Melandri attended last weekend’s Misano MotoGP and said he will be staying in World Superbikes, most likely with Aprilia in a customer team, with the Noale factory likely to end its official effort to focus on MotoGP.
Bautista, who has been with Gresini on a factory-backed RC213V since 2012, said: "I am very happy to have signed an agreement with Aprilia or the next to MotoGP World Championship seasons. Working in close contact with a manufacturer is what I wanted for my future and Aprilia has offered me a great chance. I am also very motivated to embark on this new adventure because I am coming back to a brand that has brought me great satisfaction in the past and with which I have shared some great times. Above all, the cooperation between Aprilia Racing and Gresini Racing will allow me to stay on a team that I've been racing with already for three years and which has become like a family to me. I have worked directly for a manufacturer in the past and I really liked developing a new project together. Knowing that I'll be able to count on the support of so many engineers and technicians is exciting and I can't wait to get started working with them".
Aprilia boss Romano Alesiano added: “This represents another step in defining the team that will take the Aprilia bikes onto the track for the next MotoGP season. On Friday we announced our return to the championship with Gresini Racing. Today we have inserted another very important tile in the mosaic by announcing Bautista's signing. I am particularly satisfied because Alvaro has been confirmed on a team that he already knows well, creating the basis for that rapidity in finding maximum competitiveness that led us to moving up our plans to return to MotoGP".