Aprilia has finally confirmed that it will be running Eugene Laverty alongside Max Biaggi in the factory Aprilia WSBK team. Aprilia had already announced that the Irishman had been signed by the factory and would be racing a factory RSV4, but they had not yet announced whether Laverty would be riding in the factory squad, in a separate factory-backed outfit, or with the Pata Aprilia team.
Speculation that Laverty would not be riding in the factory team was fanned at the Portimao tests, where the Irishman tested Biaggi's factory Aprilia, but was run out of the Pata Racing garage. The results of that test - Laverty was the fastest man at the test, just creeping ahead of Castrol Honda's Johnny Rea - may have helped finalize the decision making, as yesterday, they announced that they will field a two-man factory team featuring Max Biaggi and Eugene Laverty.
One question that remains open over the Aprilia factory team, however, is the matter of sponsorship. There is some uncertainty over whether Alitalia, the Italian national airline, will return as the title sponsor of the team. Despite relatively positive financial results by the Italian airline, the contract has yet to be extended. The fact that both Aprilia and Alitalia are owned by the same parent company may help to keep the deal in place, however.