Aprilia Press Release: Aprilia Choose Three Riders For 2021 For Race And Test Team

The press release from Aprilia on their 2021 MotoGP rider situation appears below:


APRILIA RACING CONFIRMS ALL THEIR RIDERS
ESPARGARÓ, SAVADORI AND SMITH WITH APRILIA RACING IN THE 2021 SEASON

Aleix Espargaró, Lorenzo Savadori and Bradley Smith will be the Aprilia Racing riders for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season.

The forced loss of Andrea Iannone, and above all, the vast amount of time his ordeal took, severely damaged Aprilia Racing, whose only “fault” was remaining loyal to their rider and rightfully trusting in reasonable times for the conclusion of the proceedings.

Over the last few weeks, the names of several riders have been associated with Aprilia Racing, as always happens in the negotiating phase. Some of the possibilities evaluated did not come to fruition independently of Aprilia Racing’s desires, so between the situations that were actually feasible and the possibility of continuing with the three riders who rode the RS-GP this season, the latter was chosen.

Given the clear growth of the RS-GP, which was improved in every area and continued to improve significantly in the final part of the season, this will provide continuity to the project for the upcoming season, which will be crucial in preparing for the subsequent five-year period, during which Aprilia intends to put more bikes on the track and implement a rider search and assessment policy.

MASSIMO RIVOLA - APRILIA RACING CEO

“It’s no secret that we offered three young riders an opportunity because we felt that our project could be very interesting for talented young riders, but they did not yet feel ready for the leap and, at the same time, the teams that have already signed them for the 2021 season preferred to keep them. We respectfully acknowledge their decision. We prefer to continue with our riders, rather than choosing solutions that are still open but about which we are not entirely convinced. Even in the difficult conditions of this season, particularly penalising for a fledgling project, the bike improved greatly and significantly reduced the gaps both in the races and in practice on basically all the circuits. Aleix finished on a high note and, even in the race yesterday, was lapping with the same times as the leaders. Lorenzo has also shown significant progress in just three races and we know that we can count on Bradley’s professionalism and experience. Aleix will obviously be our top rider. The roles of second rider and test rider will be decided at the end of the winter test schedule.”

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So Bradley is still in the Aprilia family for now and he has a shot at full time racer to boot?  I'm happy for Bradley but this speaks volumes to the management mistakes leading up to now.  How on earth did they not have two or three quality candidates in the wings awaiting Iannone's WADA/CAS decision!?  What a strange world that a factory seat can't temp a Moto2 rider to exercise the "move up" clause in a contract.  That says so much about this project currently. 

When was the last time, if ever, that six riders turned down a seat for a factory ride? I'd be amazed if such a situation has even happened in any racing series, two or four wheels.

I'm glad that Joe Roberts decided to pass as it could have been an early end to a world championship career that is just getting started, given Aprilla's management and their propensity to spit people out without giving them a fair chance. And hadn't Aprilla just made some comments about Bradley not being able to provide good data because he couldn't make the most out of the bike?

I think Roberts should have taken the Aprilia seat. He's improved significantly this past season, but he's not there yet and he may never get a seat in MotoGP. Although getting the best seat in Moto2 next season should improve his chances of success. There is also his getting out of his new Moto2 contract. That may have been too expensive for him in some way. 

And when was the last time that a factory had to wait until halfway November before they could make any promises about the availability of a factory ride..? No rider could afford to wait that long, they all had to make their decisions for 2021. Cal was open about wanting that seat, but it just took too long. The only exception is Dovizioso, who just felt it was unlikely going to be a winning bike for 2021 and decided to go motorcross riding instead. Both Bezzecchi and Roberts have indicated that it just came too late and they didn't want to leave their teams without a rider at such a late stage. Now, sure they might have decided differently when a Suzuki had been on offer, but still I think at such a late moment in time it would have been complicated, with breaking contracts of all kinds.

Also, I think that Savadori did better than expected last weekend, so that may have made Aprilia's decision to stick with all their riders a bit more attractive, besides being the easiest. And finally some continuity on the rider front is not such a bad thing either. Pragmatic solution for now, and then have the time to be better prepared for 2022.

 

Until very recently there were only 4 - 6 seats available on which you had a really good chance of winning, all the rest were basically grid fillers. I'm sure there must have been many a rider with the potential to be a superstar whose career withered away on some of these machines. Basically just about everyone who didn't ever get a factory ride with Yamaha, Honda or Ducati. However, they at least gave those riders a few years in the top tier.

Times have changed though. In this season Aprilia are the only one of the six manufacturers to not win at least one race. In fact they didn't even get a podium. I haven't even looked at the results by team but all of a sudden being on a satellite is near enough as good as being factory. Which means there are 20 seats on which you have a chance to win or at the very least show your mettle and two where you don't and, at worst, that could make you look downright mediocre. Does anyone ever really know if it's the bike or the pilot?
If I was a rider with a fair chance of a stellar career I think I too might pass on the Aprilia offer and hang out for something better.

(Though if I was just me I'd cheerfully pootle round on the thing with a stupid grin all over my face and bank the money!)

Blimey. I'm that used to Honda domination that I didn't even stop to think they also didn't win a single race this year. What an extraordinary thought.

Smith got lucky! Aprilia could have done better replacing Iannone for sure. (I am guessing that they were forced by contract to await Iannone's outcome, or that they believed that options and salary cost would improve over time). It isn't just Aprilia staff saying Smith was off the pace so far as to not be offering much besides reliability testing. He improved some since. 

Perhaps a motivating contest is good. Savadori needs a bit more time on the bike. 

So, Jorge is out of work?! The one critical comment from Rossi sure got churned far. He could be a bargain now possibly. I wonder which side balked there, he or them. 

Aprilia is out testing today...they look a little lonely.

"Aprilia intends to put more bikes on the track and implement a rider search and assessment policy." They have been looking for riders. Maybe this time in 2021 Aprilia will have eight RS-GP21s together and ready to go. Two bikes each for four riders. Finding four riders willing to take on the challenge of MotoGp on an Aprilia may be a job in itself. Who is "ready for the leap"? Dovizioso chose not to ride for Aprilia. Cal said no. Chaz said no. Bez said no. Joe said no. Digia said no.

Two more Suzukis would be very popular I'm sure. Suzuki seem a bit reluctant to put the extra bikes on the grid. Seems 2022 will definitely have more bikes on the MotoGp grid. No change in 2021. Suzi racing has time to talk the big bosses into financing a bigger racing effort. As world champions Suzuki should be growing the team. Four 2022 factory bikes for two factory riders. 2021 or 2020 carryover karaoke bikes for the sattelite team.

26! Twenty six bikes on the grid in 2022 nice.

Good luck with the interview Lilyvani. Please let us know how it goes.

.... just as soon as our marvellous government says it's okay for me to travel, I'll give the old NSU Quickly a bit of a polish, slip on the Belstaff, grinding goggles and welders gloves and thread my way down the M20 lorry park. With a tail wind and bit of luck I might make it over in time for testing.

All of this is probably a bit unfair though, isn't it. I have to admit I cocked an eyebrow when Suzuki first rejoined the circus, thinking they'd never be able to afford to get close to Yamaha, let alone Honda, and look where we are now. I so hope it won't be another 20-odd years before they win again.

I think that Aprilia should have played the odds and kicked Iannone to the curb as soon as his suspension was announced. He wasn't coming back and they wasted valuable time waiting for the results of the appeal. Smith should be used as a test rider.  Sanadori will never be more than a mid pack guy. I suspect that Chaz Davies wanted more money than they were willing to cough up, but he would have been a great choice. I also would have liked to see Cameron Beaubier on the Aprilia as oppossed to Moto 2. He's a big bike guy and is driven to succeed. I think he would have done about as good a job as you can do on an Aprilia, certainly better than Salvadori.

With Smith back in the frame for a full-time ride, Dorna's not denying BT Sport the prospect of a British rider competing in the premier class in 2021, and any contractual clauses can potentially be met. I won't be surprised if Carmelo has a quiet word with Rivola and Gresini, if he hasn't done so already. 

It's not Aprilia's job to shoehorn a British rider into motogp to fulfil Dorna's contract. Further, none of the other riders offered the seat apart from Chaz were British, right?

If there is pressure from Dorna to keep Brad in the seat it had better come with a few million euros attached to it. Unthinkable  Dorna doing this to any other seat on the grid - apart from Avintia perhaps. 

If this is the position it probably needs to be viewed in the context of the bigger picture. This is first and foremost a business. No profit, no series. Just like any other professional sport, this isn't necessarily a contest between the very best riders in the world. It's a contest between those who have been able to gain entry by whatever means. Being talented and very fast is just one part of the mix. Being able to buy a ride is sometimes another or having a sponsor to do that for you, being telegenic has a value, as does being a national of one of the key income generating countries. No doubt there are a few other factors. Dorna pay the teams to participate in their show, and they probably do have a reasonable right to look at shaping the model to suit their purposes. Sorry, I know this is a blunt, bare bones take on the circus and in practice it's probably a lot more nuanced - all business revolves around relationships, mutual interest and boundaries - but this is how it looks to me.

Nor am I complaining. Dorna has done an incredible job over the past few years, manouvering the teams to agree a set of rules that now makes for hugely entertaining racing across all three classes. Just look at this season alone. Imagine if that's what the next few years looks like. 

This is when Dorna's master plan should be realised, the much vaunted 6-point circle. 24 bikes, 6 manufacturers, 4 bikes each, all factory, or at least rolling factory parts projects. Avintia goes, VR46 arrives plus the second teams of Suzuki & Aprilia. This we virtually know is the deal; Dorna needs to have a British rider in every class, respect to BS38 but he is, for 2021, the tenuous link. In 2022 I'm sure Jake Dixon can progress and Sam can get another chance as I'm sure he won't have been judged or damned by the shocking quality of the second Aprilia ride, same as SR45 (who also is a possible). The roller coaster continues.

Oh and David, if the notes are late, and you plan on them being as deeply insightful as usual, then take as long as the hell you like...😊

Aprilia must be such an odd situation, not helped by the Iannone shenanigans.

The bike was quick in pre-season testing and has had flashes over one lap throughout the year, but of course every other bike (except Honda!) has won races this year. I think there's a decent bike in there somewhere but they can't get it into the operating window too easily, and the double races have suited everyone else better than them with multiple teams and riders for all other than Suzuki (who just have a sweet handling bike).

I can see why Dovi wouldn't want it, ditto Cal and ditto Bezzechi but for him because he'll be title contender staying in Moto2. But I think there would be a good opportunity for someone (ironically Iannone might have made progress with a second year). Someone like... Baldassari, Manzi, Xavi Vierge, Domi Aegerter...someone who's not gonna win a Moto2 title or be any kind of contender to Marc but who has something to offer. Or Chaz or Tito for similar reasons with their existing rides having run out. Whether Bradley or Lorenzo fares any better with proper year running at it rather than being a test rider with one eye over you're shoulder we'll have to see.

It's difficult for Aprilia with all the bikes close in performance now, no bike's two seconds a lap off out the back or anything like backmarkers used to be but small differences look big (and get magnified in all the race results) when the field is tight.