Aprilia has been making MotoGP headlines this week after replacing Bradley Smith with Lorenzo Savadori – but could an even bigger surprise, with another ‘Lorenzo’, be on the horizon?
After his final race for Repsol Honda last November, Yamaha looked to have scored a major coup by signing the triple MotoGP champion for its European Test Team.
Wild-card race appearances were also planned, only to be ruled out by MotoGP’s reaction to the Covid pandemic.
But while other factory test riders soon restarted their development work, Lorenzo – who believes 15-16 days of Yamaha testing were planned before the Covid outbreak – has taken part in just one more test since Sepang.
That was at Portimao, where Lorenzo again rode last year’s machine (to a best time 3.0s behind Aprilia race rider Aleix Espargaro). He was not asked to replace Monster Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi when the Italian missed the second Aragon round.
Following what appears to be a cooling in Yamaha’s enthusiasm for Lorenzo comes a surprise change in Aprilia’s MotoGP line-up, with Lorenzo Savadori taking over from fellow test rider Smith for the remaining three rounds. Smith was called-up to take over Andrea Iannone‘s seat, following his doping ban.
The suggestion by Speedweek.com is that the Smith-Savadori switch is because Lorenzo ‘will probably’ take over from Smith as Aprilia test rider in 2021: ‘We hear from Spain that the [Lorenzo] negotiations with Aprilia are well advanced, but the deal (as with Dovizioso) could still fail because of the money.’
Lorenzo previously raced for Derbi/Aprilia in both 125 and 250cc, before joining MotoGP with Yamaha in 2008.
A return to Aprilia would not only complete a circle but, as the only manufacturer currently in MotoGP without a podium or race win, it would give Lorenzo the chance help take the project to new heights, as former rival Dani Pedrosa has done at KTM.
Asked by Crash.net about the Lorenzo rumours, an Aprilia spokesman didn’t deny the possibility of talks, but insisted there’s ‘nothing near’ a deal in place.
But if Lorenzo does go to Aprilia, might Yamaha respond by making an offer to Andrea Dovizioso?
With only the Aprilia race seat still officially available, the triple title runner-up is thought to be leaning towards a testing role, with Honda another rumoured possibility.
If Dovi chooses testing, and given Smith’s Aprilia downgrade, Cal Crutchlow looks to be in pole position for the 2021 RS-GP race seat alongside Espargaro if Iannone loses his appeal.