Bradley Smith is set to remain on the MotoGP grid next season in a limited capacity, with the Red Bull KTM rider set to take on a testing role with the Aprilia factory that will see him make a series of wildcard appearances on the RS-GP machine.
Speaking exclusively to MCN after Sunday’s cancelled British Grand Prix, the Oxfordshire native says that with deals from KTM and Yamaha both falling through, the contract from the Italian factory just needs finalising.
“Up until Austria it was KTM and Yamaha, but Aprilia came asking on the Saturday there and we had a meeting already on the Sunday and they showed big interest. Things have been going back and forwards since then.
“Then on Saturday in Silverstone Lin Jarvis said there wouldn’t be a British rider in the Yamaha test team, so I suppose there we go and that’s the answer! In the matter of a short space of time we’ve had KTM say they’re not interested in wildcards for a test rider and Lin saying live on air that they’re not going to have a Brit and that only leaves me with one option!
“We’re waiting now to finalise a few bits and pieces as obviously we only heard this on Saturday night from Yamaha, but the plan will be to sit down with them in the next 48 hours and sort something out.”
The news will be welcomed by current Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro, who told the media earlier in the weekend that he would be delighted to have a rider of Smith’s experience join their team.
“He’s a very experienced rider who rode the Yamaha at a very high level one of the years he was on it, and now with the KTM he’s been improving the level of the bike a lot in the last few races. He’s a young guy who’s still got the potential to be a factory rider and to race in MotoGP, but because of how tight everything is he doesn’t have that chance - but that means he’s more than good enough to be a test rider.”
However, the news means that fellow Brit and current Aprilia rider Scott Redding’s chances of taking on the role are now gone. Rumoured to be in talks with a number of Moto2 and Bennetts British Superbike teams, the former Moto2 championship runner-up may have damaged any hopes he had of staying with the factory after his outburst about the bike after a disappointing race in Austria.