Now Official: Aprilia Announce Their Return To MotoGP With Gresini

It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team.

Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory's team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team's places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia's funding will now keep them in the premier class. 

No riders have been announced, but it is widely anticipated that Marco Melandri wil return from World Superbikes to race the Aprilia, where he will partner with current Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista. Gresini may also be looking to retain Scott Redding, but Redding is keen to ride the Honda RC213V stipulated in his contract. With the 2015 Aprilia being an uprated version of the ART machine currently being ridden by Danilo Petrucci, that bike is unlikely to be competitive. For 2016, Aprilia will be bringing an all-new machine, only loosely based on the current ART.

The Aprilia deal leaves the path free for Marc VDS Racing to take the satellite Honda given up by Gresini. However, as of this moment, the team have not announced their intentions. The team will be watched closely, as a return by Scott Redding to the Marc VDS team would be an ideal partnership. The team is expected to make its intentions known very soon, as both team boss Michael Bartholemy and team owner Marc van der Straten will be in attendance this weekend.

Below is the press release from Gresini on the Aprilia deal:


APRILIA TO ENTER MOTOGP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

GRESINI RACING WILL BE MANAGING THE ITALIAN MANUFACTURER'S PROTOTYPES ON TRACK UNTIL THE 2018 SEASON

This agreement will allow Aprilia Racing to take advantage of Gresini Racing's significant contribution in terms of MotoGP experience and know-how. Gresini Racing will be managing the Aprilia bikes on the track in MotoGP for four years, starting from the 2015 season.

FAUSTO GRESINI

“I am very glad that Aprilia identified Gresini Racing as the ideal partner to enter the MotoGP World Championship: I would like to thank the Piaggio Group for giving me a fantastic opportunity, that is working closely with such a glorious manufacturer; an Italian brand that has become a synonymous of passion for racing, reaching amazing results worldwide. The four years agreement between Gresini Racing and Aprilia opens a new chapter in our history: in this moment I feel a great responsibility, but the motivation to succeed in this exciting, all Italian challenge is even bigger. The Grand Prix world is part of the Aprilia brand and to represent it in the premier class, the MotoGP World Championship, is a source of great pride for all of us. An incredible reward for the work done in all these years by Gresini Racing”.

GRESINI RACING

Managed by the two-time 125cc class world champion Fausto Gresini, Gresini Racing has been in Grand Prix motorcycle racing since 1997, achieving prestigious results: in addition to the two titles won in 2001 with Daijiro Kato (250cc) and in 2010 with Toni Elias (Moto2), the 40 wins and 114 podiums earned, there are also the MotoGP runner up titles achieved for three consecutive seasons, in 2003 and 2004 with Sete Gibernau and in 2005 with Marco Melandri.

Gresini Racing has been home to top calibre champions such as Alex Barros, Loris Capirossi, Colin Edwards and Marco Simoncelli. Gresini Racing is currently an organisation which is involved in all the Grand Prix motorcycle racing classes. In fact, they are key players in the 2014 season with Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding in MotoGP, Xavier Siméon and Lorenzo Baldassarri in Moto2 and with Niccolò Antonelli and Enea Bastianini in Moto3.

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Comments

Knowing that Suzuki seems to have lacked funds in the past, why wouldn't they attempt a similar path into MotoGP?

Although they've announced their intention to return, the issue of grid spots has not as of yet been addressed. Or has it?

Total votes: 35

What I was thinking as well! It seems to me the best play would be for HRC to step up and help Marc VDS aquire that bike and put Scott Redding in the seat. At this point I don't see anyone else even being close to picking up that bike. It's going to be very interesting to see how this one plays out.

Total votes: 45

What an opportunity for Marc VDS. Honda have already been embarrassed badly this year by producing a dud open bike. What if no one took their satellite bike? An enormous loss of face. Methinks Marc VDS are in a position to negotiate a substantial discount.

Total votes: 51

As expected. I'm extremely pleased to see another manufacturer join the grid.

As for Redding, I really don't know what's the big deal about him. He's doing as well as can be expected but why does everyone want to put him on an RCV all of a sudden?

Total votes: 47

If I'm understanding the situation correctly, he signed with Gressini and rode the open bike with the understanding that in a year's time he would get a factory bike if certain performance criteria were met. He has met or exceeded all of those criteria, so a factory RCV should be what he sits on next season. Given how the Hondas are performing I can see how Scott would be getting excited about his 2015 prospects, and how now this has turned into utter frustration for him, as the Aprilia will be an unknown entity. He has a contract that says he will be on a factory Honda next year.

But as we all know, money talks and something else walks, and the sponsorship money went away on Mr. Gressini, placing him in a very bad financial position, one that HRC apparently is not prepared to assist with. In comes Aprilia with a better offer, and there you have it. SO it's really the principal of the thing in Scott's eyes as far as I can tell. He was being groomed to be the rider of a factory Honda machine, a seat which he definitely earned. He really is a big talent (no pun intended!) and if given a good machine will be very competitive.

Of course, he did start out on Aprilia's, so if he were to stay with Gressini he would be coming full circle. There is a certain synergy to that...

But I really think he wants that RCV.

Total votes: 42

... if there were no contractual repercussions.....

I suspect the only riders on the MotoGP grid that would refuse a 'factory/satellite' RC213V for 2015 are the 2 guys currently wearing Repsol leathers.

And *perhaps* Rossi, just on principle.

Everyone else would throw gram in front of a tram to get one.

Total votes: 37

Suzuki I guess is the inevitable conclusion to draw, unless of course Marc VDS buys the PBM slots. But what economic sense does it make to buy two slots and run one RC213V for Redding? Thank you Dorna what a mess you have made of MotoGP. And what of Ioda? Any talk of that?

Total votes: 45

There is no room at LCR. With Crutchlow under contract and Miller all but publically confirmed (picking crew chiefs suggests the deal is done, as does the lack of availability of the premier moto2 rides).

Still, I'd love that to happen: Team 'UK hard nuts' LCR!

Total votes: 33