MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales sign new two-year deals with Aprila

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Aprilia has given Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales new two-year contracts for the 2023 and 2024 MotoGP seasons.

The contract extensions were confirmed during a press conference at Mugello this afternoon (May 26), with the team unchanged for the next two years.

Espargaro’s new deal means that he’ll have spent eight seasons with Aprilia in the premier class. The Spaniard has worked night and day to help turn the RS-GP from a back marker to race winning machine.

At last year’s British Grand Prix Espargaro secured Aprilia’s first podium in the modern-era of MotoGP – Jeremy McWilliams claimed Aprilia’s last premier class podium (500cc) at Donington Park in 2000.

Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia celebrate victory in Argentina

This year has seen Espargaro and Aprilia take things to the next level. He clinched his first-ever, and Aprilia’s first of the modern era, MotoGP win in Argentina, and has finished on the podium in the last three races.

Espargaro is second in the championship, four points behind Fabio Quartararo, and has already amassed more points (98) in seven races than he did in each season between 2017-2020. Last season he scored a total of 120 points, which will likely be surpassed in the next couple of rounds.

“This confirmation was just what the doctor ordered,” Espargaro said. “We’ve worked hard together and grown together. We were a hope, now we are reality. In 2021 we had already seen clear signs of our steps forward and now we are able to battle consistently with the best in the world.

“Continuing to do so with Aprilia is a source of pride for me. We can grow even more, and we want to demonstrate that on the track.”

Maverick Vinales is still adjusting to life on the RS-GP

Vinales’ future wasn’t as clear given his slow start to life on the RS-GP. The nine-time MotoGP race winner joined the team with five rounds remaining of the 2021 season following a shock departure from Yamaha.

Vinales’ best result this season was seventh in Argentina, whilst he’s also finished 10th in three of the seven races held this year.

“I’m extremely happy to continue my work with Aprilia Racing,” Vinales said. “Now our horizons are expanding, and we’ll be able to work with continuity to achieve ambitious goals.

“I believe in this project and I’m happy to be part of it. I’ve found a fantastic environment in Aprilia and this confirmation gives me the peace of mind to grow the way this team and I deserve to.”

Today’s news closes another door for current Suzuki riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins. Both are looking for new teams following the shock news that Suzuki will pull out of MotoGP at the end of the season.

Mir has been linked with a move to Repsol Honda, replacing Pol Espargaro, but Rins’ destination isn’t so clear. There’s one seat yet to be confirmed at KTM alongside Brad Binder, whilst rumours are still circulating about a possible satellite team for Aprilia – something that Espargaro and Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola are both hopeful of.

“All the good we are doing this season is the fruit of many components, certainly the value of our designers and our technicians led by Romano Albesiano, the overall growth of our racing department and, in large part, the synergy that our Captain Aleix has skilfully built with the bike and with the team,” Rivola added.

“So, we set the goal of continuing along these lines, both with Aleix and with Maverick, and I am pleased with these confirmations today. We still need to grow a lot and now we have the peace of mind to do so.” 

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Josh Close

By Josh Close

Sports Reporter and fan of all things motorsport.