The cancellation of the Sepang MotoGP tests meant Cal Crutchlow‘s return to Yamaha, and debut as a Factory test rider, has been pushed back until Qatar.
But with Honda being first out-of-the-blocks by testing with Stefan Bradl at Jerez last month, and other manufacturers responding to the Sepang cancellation by also planning private MotoGP laps at the Spanish track this month, it seemed possible that the Englishman might make a European debut.
However, Yamaha told Crash.net that the first official test for Crutchlow currently remains scheduled for Losail in March, although Maverick Vinales might do some training at Jerez on an R1 Superbike at the end of this month.
Like Yamaha, defending MotoGP champion’s Suzuki also told Crash.net they have no MotoGP testing plans before Qatar.
One factory that is planning a February debut is Aprilia, which has scheduled three days of private testing at Jerez for the new RS-GP on February 15-17 (KTM is also tipped to use similar dates, while Ducati and Honda are due to ride on February 10-11, when Ducati’s race riders will also be present on road bikes).
As the last remaining concession manufacturer, Aprilia’s MotoGP race rider Aleix Espargaro will be eligible to take part in the Jerez test.
But who will join him?
The Spaniard’s 2021 team-mate is due to be chosen between test riders Bradley Smith and Lorenzo Savadori, at the end of the pre-season.
But speaking to GPone.com, rider manager Carlo Pernat suggested Smith has ‘refused the test contract’ and implied that Savadori is to be offered the 2021 race seat with a new test rider now needed to take over from Smith.
Aprilia played down the rumours of any rider decisions already being made…