After Yamaha's shock announcement that they will be pulling out of World Superbikes at the end of this season, their impressive rider pairing became World Superbike's hottest properties. Marco Melandri soon found a seat alongside Leon Haslam at BMW, but the fate of Eugene Laverty was still uncertain. For a while, it looked as if the Irishman could see a return to the MotoGP paddock, Laverty holding extensive talks with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, but in the end, team boss Herve Poncharal elected to sign Andrea Dovizioso, preferring the Italian's proven track record over Laverty's lack of experience with the Bridgestone tires that determine success in MotoGP.
Laverty still had a number of options in the World Superbike paddock, and GPOne.com and Motosprint are reporting that the Irishman has reached an agreement with Aprilia for 2012. There is some uncertainty as to exactly where Laverty will be placed; though he is reported to have guarantees of factory equipment, Aprilia WSBK chief Gigi Dall'Igna has yet to decide whether the factory Aprilia team will consist of just Max Biaggi, or whether Laverty will line up alongside the Italian veteran. According to GPOne.com, Dall'Igna's goal is to have four Aprilia RSV4s on the grid next season, with either one or two bikes in the factory team and a bike for the Pata squad. GPOne is also reporting that Paul Bird, currently running the factory Kawasaki squad in WSBK, could also be interested in fielding one or two Aprilias in World Superbikes for 2012, including a slot for Yorkshireman Tom Sykes, but that would appear to be contradicted by Bird's previous statements to top UK racing news site Bikesportnews.com, whom he had told that he was "finished with World Superbikes" and that he was exploring his options as a CRT entry in MotoGP for 2012.
Aprilia was one of two options which Laverty had to choose from, according to Motosprint. The satellite BMW Italia squad had offered the Irishman a significant sum - some 300,000 euros, according to the Italian magazine - to ride a BMW S1000RR next season, but Laverty appears instead to have gone for the guarantee of factory support. The bike itself may also suit Laverty better: the Aprilia RSV4 is basically a MotoGP machine for the street, and the high-corner-speed style required to make it go fast is something Laverty learned during his five years on 125 and 250 Grand Prix machinery.
The signing of Laverty leaves current Aprilia rider Leon Camier out in the cold. It is not yet known where Camier will end up next season, but his performance over the past two season should have been enough to convince somebody in the WSBK paddock that he deserves to stay.