Andrea Dovizioso To Test For Aprilia - Why Did He Say Yes Now?

It might be an exaggeration to call today's news that Andrea Dovizioso is to test the Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP bike at Jerez from April 12th to 14th a bombshell, but it certainly raised a few eyebrows. The Italian had previously turned down the offer of a full-time ride with the Noale factory for 2021, despite Aprilia extensively courting his services. So for Aprilia to offer a test ride is no surprise. For Dovizioso to accept is certainly interesting.

The press release announced by Aprilia states very clearly that this is not an audition for a permanent ride. "It will not be a ‘trial matrimony’ but an opportunity to turn some laps together without any binding commitment for the future," Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola is quoted as saying. But the fact that Dovizioso accepted the offer suggest that may change in the future.

The reasons for that are self-evident. When Dovizioso announced he would be taking a sabbatical for the 2021 season, he made it clear that he still wanted to race, but would only accept offers which give him a chance to challenge for the championship. At the end of 2020, the racing an Aprilia RS-GP in the factory Aprilia team did not look like being the opportunity he was looking for. What's more, the uncertainty surrounding the future of Marc Márquez meant that there was the potential for a seat in the factory Repsol Honda team, at least until Márquez returned.

Much has changed since October and November last year, however. It became clear quite quickly that HRC had no appetite for Andrea Dovizioso, given how strongly Stefan Bradl performed in the last few races, and, paddock rumor suggests, the Italian's financial and practical demands. Talks with KTM failed on similar issues, with KTM in the luxury position of having Dani Pedrosa as a test rider. Dovizioso turned down the offer of a test rider role at Yamaha, as the chances of anything more than a few wildcards and the possibility of replacing in injured rider seemed very slim indeed.

In the last few weeks, Dovizioso's chances have shrunk even further. Marc Márquez' recovery after injury has gone better than the six-time MotoGP champion might have dared to hope, and the Spaniard could be riding a MotoGP bike as early as Qatar. That would remove any last lingering hopes Dovizioso may have had of a replacement role with the Japanese factory.

And so, Aprilia is all that is left. But there are positive reasons for considering the Aprilia ride as well. While the RS-GP looked uncompetitive last year, hamstrung by reliability and engine issues, the Qatar tests suggest that the Noale factory has made a big step forward. The problems raised by changing engine configurations to a 90°V angle have largely been addressed, and Aprilia technical boss Romano Albesiano has had a chance to improve and update his design.

The improvements in the bike were also visible on the timesheets. Aleix Espargaro was not just quick over a single lap – the Spaniard finished the second test at Qatar as sixth fastest overall, hale a second behind fastest man Jack Miller – he was also fast in terms of race pace, his average lap time being consistently in the top three or four.

And Aprilia have a glaring problem. Lorenzo Savadori's promotion from test rider to full-time 2021 entry has not gone to plan, the Italian suffering badly with a shoulder injury during testing. Savadori was dead last among the full-time grid, and slower than Suzuki test rider Sylvain Guintoli and KTM's Dani Pedrosa. Bradley Smith, meanwhile, is still looking for a full-time ride as a racer and is still wary of taking on solely a testing role.

So both sides have something to gain from this temporary alliance. Aprilia get the benefit of feedback from one of the best development riders in MotoGP. Andrea Dovizioso gets the chance to assess where the Aprilia stands, how easy it is to work with Aprilia Racing staff, and how willing they are to listen to him. Aprilia also get a few races to see how Lorenzo Savadori gets on in MotoGP, and to reexamine their testing program.

Does this make Aprilia offering Dovizioso a full-time ride, and Dovizioso accepting it, inevitable? Not necessarily, but the odds are looking better for it every day. Aprilia is Dovizioso's only chance of riding this year, and his best chance of scoring a contract for 2022 and beyond. If he isn't riding, and racing, then the MotoGP teams will look to Moto2, and the pool of talent there ready to make the jump to MotoGP, with riders such as Marco Bezzecchi, Remy Gardner, Fabio Di Giannantonio, Augusto Fernandez, Aron Canet, Joe Roberts, and more.

The final hurdle such an alliance would face comes from the rulebook. With Lorenzo Savadori down as Aprilia's full-time entry, replacing him with Dovizioso is not an automatic option. Once the entry list is finalized, any changes to permanent riders must be approved by IRTA. Acceptance is not automatic, but rejection is very unlikely. Andrea Dovizioso is a bigger draw for the sport than Lorenzo Savadori, and so IRTA are likely to rubber stamp the decision.

The official press release from Aprilia appears below:


ANDREA DOVIZIOSO WILL TEST THE NEW APRILIA RS-GP

Aprilia Racing and Andrea Dovizioso will be together on the track in Jerez from 12 through 14 April.

Andrea will conduct a test on the 2021 RS-GP that will race in the World MotoGP Championship and which, ridden in its début tests by Aleix Espargaró and Lorenzo Savadori, provided good sensations straight away.

MASSIMO RIVOLA - AD APRILIA RACING

“It was a pleasure to invite Andrea. The days in Jerez will simply be a chance to get to know one another better, also on the track. It will not be a ‘trial matrimony’ but an opportunity to turn some laps together without any binding commitment for the future. We are well aware of all Andrea’s qualities and his contribution will be important, even for just one test.”

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO

“I was pleased by Aprilia’s interest and when we spoke about the possibility of doing this test, I gladly accepted the invitation to be able to ride a MotoGP bike again and to stay in form, giving the engineers my feedback. I wish to thank Aprilia Racing for this opportunity.”


If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, supporting us on Patreon, by making a donation, or contributing via our GoFundMe page. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.

Source: 
year: 
2021

Back to top

Comments

Wiith lots of intended disrespect to Lorenzo Savadori, this is a fun turn of events. I am very excited about the possibility of 04 racing this year, even on an improved (?) Aprilia. 

Of all the 2021 test riders, who would you rank below Savadori?

Surprise ? the only surprise , having seen how fast this iteration was in the recent tests , was that it's taken this long for Dovi's manager to get this organised .

 

... surprise this would be to an already exciting 2021 season! If Aprilia are serious about competing in MotoGP (and they are), wasting a seat on Savadori makes little to no sense if Dovi wants the ride.

Honestly , since the Aprilia turned out to be fast in testing the only thing that would be a surprise is that Dovi's manager wouldn't be trying to beat down the door .

Dovizioso and Battistella played their cards and ended up with a losing hand for 2021. Which may be seen as the winning ticket when viewed in hindsight from the future. Who knows? What is known is that Espargaro has proven the Aprilia to be competitive in winter testing. At the very least, it will be interesting to see what kind of times Dovizioso clocks at the Jerez test in a month given he will be riding a new bike supported by a new team after missing the winter testing and the first few races.

Motogp is a violent sport and change is the only constant in this world. Marquez's return is not a foregone conclusion, but recent events and conjecture have created a lot of optimism. This is good. There is even a glimmer of hope that Marc and Dovi may resume their battles of recent years - with another half dozen riders, or more, also in the mix. 

It's also interesting that the riders who placed first and second in the 2017-2019 motogp championships are both unknowns going into the 2021 season. What are the odds of Marc and Dovi both lining up on the grid in 2021 for their first time at the same race? It's difficult to wait for the season to start...

What does Joe Roberts think of this turn of events since I believe dovi was a major part in Joe turning Aprillia down at the end of last season... 

In case Sava doesnt work out as they hope, and having seen Aleix doing sso well he knows the bike is not a dog. Im sure that Espagaro has put a lot of pressure on them too, as he needs to be able to focus on racing, not developing. He will do more than wild card, he can test it, improve it then take over from Sava, if he goes faster than him in tests, Sava can go back to testing. Everyone happy.

YES!

This is REALLY good. Odds are not small with this that Dovi is back on the other Italian bike. Just last night rewatched 2017 races specifically examining Dovi-Marquez battles, and went to bed with big appreciation for Dovisioso's skill. Huge deal for Aprilia. Very positive for fans of the sport. 

Do it Andrea! 

Addendum - looking like his intention is to Test and Wildcard Aprilia this yr, NOT race. Then revisit full time ride vs options for 2022. Hmm. Ok.

Dovi had problems with Gigi, imagine him dealing with the Aprilia hierarchy. I don't have any faith that this will work out. Unless maybe Aprilia are completely 100% different from when they dealt with Scott Redding. I don't believe they are. Also reliability...there won't be any. Too bad, I want to root for them to get to the pointy end but I also want Charlie Brown to get to kick that football; it just ain't gonna happen. I'll gladly be wrong, tho.

Every year...wow look out fast the aprilia is...love for it to shake out as the races begin, but...

David, didn't you provide us with a grammar lesson a few years back concerning proof/pudding?

Yes, and Dovi just said HE is testing the Aprilia at Jerez!!

(Still really cool, no? Agreed, Aleix and the bike at Qatar leaves much yet shown. And, reliability was good, much on offer that is update from an already revolutionized 2020 bike, they have concessions, yadda yadda).

Dovi wants to ride it. Smart to do it there. Really cool news for every single person besides Slowvadori.

Dovi has really gone out of his way to burn bridges both professionally and socially since his exit from Ducati. I'm quite interested to see how this all shakes out.

The chance for a crack at bat before saying I do is something we can all take for granted. 

Motorcycle racers at this level don't get that chance.  

So a curious choice of words to say it's not a trial matrimony.  Maybe we'll just call it friends with benefits instead :) 

Since Lorenzo is currently injured, it would be great if they could fastrack Andrea to Qatar for the next GP round. Maybe they could pull a few strings and let him ride in the free practice session to get a feel for the bike. Obvious a new bike and no testing puts him in a significant disadvantage so its just a dream . . . but an interesting one.

Since Lorenzo is currently injured, it would be great if they could fastrack Andrea to Qatar for the next GP round. Maybe they could pull a few strings and let him ride in the free practice session to get a feel for the bike. Obvious a new bike and no testing puts him in a significant disadvantage so its just a dream . . . but an interesting one.

I'd love to see Dovi on the Aprilia at Qatar right from the off.  It would inject a lot of extra interest and make a sort of a step-change in how we look at the Aprilia effort.  Right now they are very much hamstrung by a thin rider lineup, having Dovi racing and Smith testing would make it quite a different proposition - something to suddenly take a bit seriously.

Once upon a time there was a man named Fancynose who wasn't careful with the meat he ate. He led a race at Phillip Island on an Aprilia. Would be lovely to see Dr. Dovi repeat that feat at Qatar, but difficult with that long a** straight to avoid getting swallowed up.

I'm not changing my 2021 pool picks because Aliex threw in a few non-competitive fast laps.  I welcome input from anyone of Dovi's calibre at Aprilia because once the real stuff starts, they need to get caught up to the rest of the grid or get out of the way.   But what really caught my attention here was the statement regarding IRTA approval.  Rulebook hurdles to clear with the IRTA and then a statement they'd be very low hurdles due to Dovi's greater popularity....that seems an odd pairing.  Is the IRTA really applying rules or just promoting IRTA members along with Dorna promoting the series?  The difference may seem minor....until a still upset Gigi raises a hand in protest.

My guess is while Dovi will be happy to keep his hand in and give lots of input to the project, i suspect he will not take up the ride due to it not being competitive enough and/or demands are not met.....