The penultimate piece of the 2017 puzzle has fallen into place. Today, the Pull&Bear Aspar team announced that they have signed Alvaro Bautista to race for them for the 2017 season.
The deal had long been anticipated, Bautista confirming at the Sachsenring that he was in talks with Aspar, and expected a contract to be signed. The final details were sorted out in Austria, and an announcement made the day before the Czech Grand Prix is to get underway in Brno.
Like the Avintia Ducati team, Aspar will have two different bikes at their disposal for their riders. One rider will be given a Ducati Desmosedici GP16 for the season, while the other will have a Desmosedici GP15. In the Avintia team, it is Hector Barbera who will have the GP16, while Loriz Baz makes do with the GP15. In Aspar, it is Alvaro Bautista who has the GP16, while the second rider, still to be confirmed, will get to use the GP15.
Bautista's signing leaves one more seat to fill. The second seat at Aspar is still up for grabs, though Eugene Laverty has first refusal on it. The Irishman is still vacillating between the Aspar ride and a seat in WorldSBK with Aprilia. A decision on that shoudl be forthcoming very soon. If Laverty doesn't take the seat, then Yonny Hernandez will retain his seat in the Aspar squad.
Below is the table of signed riders and their contract lengths, while at the bottom is the press release from the Aspar team announcing the signing of Bautista:
|Monster Tech 3 Yamaha|
|Marc VDS Honda|
|Eugene Laverty/Yonny Hernandez?|
Below is the press release from the Aspar team announcing the deal:
Aspar Team and Álvaro Bautista to reunite in 2017
Spanish rider returns to the team where he was crowned 125cc World Champion in 2006 and 250cc runner-up in 2008
The Aspar Team and Álvaro Bautista will join forces again in 2017, the Spaniard (born 21st November 1984) returning to the team where he last raced between 2006 and 2009. Bautista's fifth season with the Aspar Team will also be his eighth season in MotoGP, this time riding aboard a Ducati GP16.
Álvaro Bautista touched the sky in his first season together with the Aspar Team in the 125cc World Championship in 2006. The rider from Talavera de la Reina picked up eight pole positions, eight victories, four second places and two thirds, taking 338 points from sixteen races on his way to a dominant title. Bautista was crowned champion in Australia, handing the Aspar Team its first World Championship with three rounds to spare.
Bautista moved up to the 250cc World Championship together with the Aspar Team, fighting for honours throughout three seasons that saw him come close to the title in 2008, when he finished runner-up. Bautista and the Aspar Team again recorded impressive figures in the intermediate class, with a total of eight wins, twenty podiums, nine poles and twelve fastest laps.
In 2010 he made the step up to MotoGP with Suzuki, spending two seasons with the Japanese factory team before switching to Gresini, where he currently rides an Aprilia after an initial period on a Honda. The 2012 season was Bautista's best so far in MotoGP, with two podium finishes and fifth overall in the championship.
Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’: “For the Aspar Team it gives us great pleasure in every sense to welcome Álvaro Bautista back. As a team we picked up our first World Championship title with him back in 2006 and we enjoyed some wonderful years together. Our professional and personal relationship with him is excellent and for the team and our sponsors this is great news. My hope and desire is that this brings great results for Ducati and for us. It is important for us to have a Spanish rider with his record and his professionalism. He can give us an advantage on track.”
Álvaro Bautista: “I am happy to be returning to what was my home for many years in the World Championship, where I enjoyed my best results including the 125cc World Championship title and fought for another title in 250cc. I am happy and motivated to be going back and especially to have another year in MotoGP, a new adventure. Over the years I have grown a lot and I have much more experience now. I am confident that with this team we can be competitive in 2017.”