Aprilia has announced that it will be retaining both current test riders, Lorenzo Savadori and Bradley Smith, for the 2021 MotoGP season and that one of them will get the vacant race seat alongside Aleix Espargaro.
Following the announcement of Andrea Iannone‘s four-year doping ban by the CAS, and with Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow opting to step away from the premier-class, Moto2 stars Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio di Giannantonio and finally Joe Roberts were all offered the Aprilia MotoGP chance.
However, the trio ultimately decided to remain in Moto2.
“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. We respectfully acknowledge their decision,” said Massimo Rivola, Aprilia Racing CEO
“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.”
Despite high hopes for the all-new 2020 RS-GP, Espargaro took a best result of eighth place this year, compared with sixth for the previous machine. Smith rode for most of the season in place of Iannone (best finish of 12th), handing over to Savadori (best of 18th) for the last three rounds.
Aprilia will be the only manufacturer eligible for technical concessions next season.
Today’s announcement made no mention of Jorge Lorenzo, who had been in discussion to join Aprilia as a test rider next season having lost out on the Yamaha role to Cal Crutchlow. It seems the Lorenzo-Aprilia talks have now been halted…