Bradley Smith has been replaced by fellow Aprilia test rider Lorenzo Savadori for the remaining three rounds of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship.
Smith was called up to the race team this year following Andrea Iannone‘s doping ban, taking a best race finish of 13th.
That compares with a 10th place by team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who has scored 27 points so far, with 12 for Smith.
“First and foremost, I wish to thank Bradley for his efforts this season,” said Aprilia racing CEO Massimo Rivaola. “He took one the unexpected role of factory rider with great dignity and outstanding performance, and his contribution was extremely valuable.
“Now we are excitedly awaiting Lorenzo’s début. This promotion is certainly a reward for his great season as a CIV rider, dominating the Superbike category. But it is also a step of growth for a rider who will be a tester for our RS-GP in 2021 as well.
“Riding our fledgling project in the race as well will certainly be a step forward for Lorenzo and, therefore, for all of Aprilia Racing.”
Since Aprilia have confirmed Savadori for all three rounds it means Iannone will not return to action this season even if his ban is quashed by the CAS. A decision on his Appeal is due next month.
Savadori, who raced for Aprilia in WorldSBK from 2016-2018 with a best finish of fourth, said: “To say I’m happy would be an understatement and I wish to thank Aprilia Racing straight away for this great opportunity. I will be arriving prepared for the event, thanks both to the work done during the tests on the RS-GP and to the CIV season that just ended.
“It was a challenging Championship that demanded top form and maximum concentration from me. Now I need to reorganise my thoughts, glean from the kilometres I’ve ridden astride the RS-GP and make sure I’m ready and focused for the first practice session.”
During his most recent MotoGP test outing, at Portimao, Savadori was 1.523s slower than Espargaro and 0.571s behind Smith.
The surprise decision to parachute in Savadori will also give Aprilia the chance to evaluate the Italian’s race speed in view of signing a possible replacement for Iannone in 2021.
Smith, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso have also been linked with the vacant 2021 Aprilia seat, although Dovizioso seems to be moving towards a testing deal, with Honda one of his rumoured options.
Aprilia told Crash.net that Smith still remains part of the factory’s test team, despite today’s news.