MotoGP: Aprilia reveal 2021 plans
Aleix Espargaro, Lorenzo Savdori and Bradley Smith will all remain within Aprilia’s MotoGP setup in 2021.
Espargaro will once again lead the project onboard the RS-GP, which did take a step forward in 2020. The Spaniard ended this season with two top 10 finishes at Valencia and Portimao, ending the year 17th overall.
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Rumours about the second spot at Aprilia have increased in the last week or so following Andrea Iannone's four-year doping ban. Aprilia stood by their rider throughout the court case, which almost lasted an entire year, but were left empty handed and very little time to find a replacement.
"The forced loss of Andrea Iannone, and above all, the vast amount of time his ordeal took, severely damaged Aprilia Racing, whose only “fault” was remaining loyal to their rider and rightfully trusting in reasonable times for the conclusion of the proceedings," today's statement reads.
Chaz Davies, Marco Bezzecchi and Joe Roberts have all been linked with Aprilia, as were Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow before they made their respective announcements. In the end, Aprilia has decided to stick with what they know, but it's still not clear who will become their full-time rider and who will be their test rider.
“It’s no secret that we offered three young riders an opportunity because we felt that our project could be very interesting for talented young riders, but they did not yet feel ready for the leap and, at the same time, the teams that have already signed them for the 2021 season preferred to keep them," Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Ravola said.
"We respectfully acknowledge their decision. We prefer to continue with our riders, rather than choosing solutions that are still open but about which we are not entirely convinced. Even in the difficult conditions of this season, particularly penalising for a fledgling project, the bike improved greatly and significantly reduced the gaps both in the races and in practice on basically all the circuits.
"Aleix finished on a high note and, even in the race yesterday, was lapping with the same times as the leaders. Lorenzo has also shown significant progress in just three races and we know that we can count on Bradley’s professionalism and experience. Aleix will obviously be our top rider. The roles of second rider and test rider will be decided at the end of the winter test schedule."
Today's release also suggested that within a five-year project, Aprilia will look to have more bikes on the grid and implement a rider search and assessment policy.