An Instagram post featuring a Yamaha suggests Bradley Smith has split from Aprilia and is thus no longer in contention for the factory’s remaining MotoGP race seat or a test riding role.
After six seasons in MotoGP with Tech3 Yamaha (two podiums) and then KTM, Smith joined Aprilia as test and wild-card rider at the end of 2018.
The Englishman then stepped up to replace the suspended Andrea Iannone for much of the 2020 season, taking a best finish of twelfth, but was dropped in place of fellow test rider Lorenzo Savadori for the final three rounds.
After Iannone’s doping ban was increase to four-years by the CAS, and several Moto2 stars turned down the Aprilia seat, the factory announced the 2021 ride would go to either Smith or Savadori.
A decision wasn’t due to be taken until the end of pre-season testing, when one rider would be named alongside Aleix Espargaro in the race team and the other would continue as test rider.
But recent rumours suggested Aprilia had already made up its mind, wanting to offer Savadori the race seat and Smith the testing role.
The factory denied a decision had been made, and Smith’s manager Bob Moore told Crash.net that discussions with Aprilia were still ongoing, albeit at a slow pace.
Moore expected an answer from Aprilia at the end of last week and, judging by the latest post on Smith’s Instagram, the outcome was not acceptable to the #38…
The former 125cc race winner uploaded a picture of a Yamaha R3 track bike alongside the words ‘No Looking Back’ and ‘Project #109 is complete’.
Posting about a rival brand would be unthinkable if Smith was continuing at Aprilia.
It therefore appears Savadori will be racing alongside Espargaro in MotoGP this season – unless a renewed effort to sign Andrea Dovizioso suddenly succeeds – and that the Italian factory will need to find a new test rider.
Aprilia is due to complete its first MotoGP laps of the year during a private test at Jerez, later this month.