Hiroshi Aoyama is to become a test rider for Honda in 2015. The future of the Japanese rider was uncertain after Eugene Laverty was signed to race with the Aspar team for next year, and Aoyama's options in the MotoGP paddock were limited. As a rider who has spent almost his entire career with Honda, including winning the last ever 250cc championship in 2009, Aoyama was the logical choice to take on a role as test rider.
Aoyama's work will commence on Friday at Valencia. Honda have brought the RC213V-RS to Valencia, the bike which is to replace the RCV1000R Open class Honda in 2015. Aoyama is to race the new bike, which features pneumatic valves and a more powerful engine, though it still does not have the seamless gearbox of the factory bikes. Aoyama's performance on the bike this weekend should give an idea of how much more competitive the Open class honda will be next year.
Aoyama will most likely not be Honda's only test rider. HRC are expected to reach an agreement with Casey Stoner to act as test rider for the factory. Aoyama is likely to take the place of one of Honda's other Japanese riders, Shinichi Itoh or Kousuke Akiyoshi.
The press release from Honda announcing Aoyama as a test rider appears below:
HRC announce Aoyama as test rider for 2015
Honda Racing Corporation confirmed they have signed Hiroshi Aoyama, 2009 250cc World Champion, as a test rider in 2015.
The first step of this new project will see Hiro riding the new Honda Open Class bike with pneumatic valve engine, the RC213V-RS, in Valencia this weekend for his final race with the Aspar Team.
In next week’s three day test the 2015 machine will be shared between Karel Abraham and Nicky Hayden.
HRC Executive Vice President
"We are very pleased to confirm Hiro as a test rider for next year. He’s done a very good job this year and especially in these final races. This is an important project for HRC and we believe that he will be a valued addition for the development of HRC machines in the future. We have a long relationship with Hiro, and we look forward to continuing this into the future."