MotoGP: Andrea Dovizioso to test the Aprilia RS-GP at Jerez
Three-time MotoGP runner-up Andrea Dovizioso will test Aprilia's 2021 RS-GP bike at Jerez next month.
Dovizioso shocked the world last season when he announced his departure from Ducati after eight seasons with the Italian manufacturer. Ironically, Dovizioso opted to take a sabbatical from the sport rather than join Aprilia's 2021 project, either as a test rider or full-time competitor.
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However, it appears that the Italian has made a slight U-turn. Dovizioso will conduct a three-day test with Aprilia on April 12-15.
“I was pleased by Aprilia’s interest and when we spoke about the possibility of doing this test, I gladly accepted the invitation to be able to ride a MotoGP bike again and to stay in form, giving the engineers my feedback. I wish to thank Aprilia Racing for this opportunity," Dovizioso said.
Aleix Espargaro and Lorenzo Savadori will start the season as Aprilia's official MotoGP entrants, but it's not clear whether or not Bradley Smith will take on any testing responsibilities after losing his spot to Savadori.
Aprilia has made clear that no further commitments have been made at this stage to continue any form of testing relationship beyond the three-day test at Jerez.
“It was a pleasure to invite Andrea,” Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola explained. "The days in Jerez will simply be a chance to get to know one another better, also on the track. It will not be a ‘trial matrimony’ but an opportunity to turn some laps together without any binding commitment for the future. We are well aware of all Andrea’s qualities and his contribution will be important, even for just one test.”
If all goes to plan during his three days with the team, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Dovizioso could become an Aprilia rider for 2022. Afterall, his sabbatical is only supposed to be for one year and a spot at Aprilia could be his best option.
Aprilia will hope that Dovizioso is impressed by the all-new 2021 RS-GP, which has been dramatically changed for the second consecutive season. Having the 15-time MotoGP race winner onboard, even just as a test rider, would be a huge coup for the team.
Having no concessions allowed Espargaro and Savadori to also test their new bike at Jerez in February. Espargaro finished last week's three-day Qatar Test in sixth spot overall, 0.457s off the record-breaking pace set by Jack Miller. Meanwhile, Savadori is continuing to recover from shoulder injuries which hindered his winter test programme.