Aprilia have confirmed three riders for 2021, putting two head to head.
Following intense discussions with various riders for their 2021 MotoGP including Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow, Marco Bezzecchi, Joe Roberts and many more, in all of these cases the talks fell apart and nothing came of them. In Dovizioso and Crutchlow’s cases, they opted to either take a sabbatical or retire to be a test rider, whereas Bezzecchi’s move was blocked by the VR46 team and the same for Roberts, the move blocked by the Italtrans team, despite the contract being signed.
Aprilia, therefore, are left red-faced and looking to once again run a test rider for a full season next to full-time rider Aleix Espargaro for the 2021 season, they have Bradley Smith and Lorenzo Savadori in their ranks, both riders held in high regard with the factory with Savadori being an Aprilia man for more than 5 years now and winning them the 2020 CIV SBK championship on the RSV4.
Their second rider is unconfirmed for the most part with Aprilia looking at their winter testing program to establish who the best rider for their 2021 MotoGP campaign would be with Smith and Savadori looking to impress the bosses and secure their future, one rider would be the full-time rider whilst the other the test rider, however, if results are not there, they can be swapped as they did replacing Smith with Savadori for the last three rounds of the 2020 season.
Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola said, “It’s no secret that we offered three young riders an opportunity because we felt that our project could be very interesting for talented young riders, but they did not yet feel ready for the leap and, at the same time, the teams that have already signed them for the 2021 season preferred to keep them.
We respectfully acknowledge their decision. We prefer to continue with our riders, rather than choosing solutions that are still open but about which we are not entirely convinced. Even in the difficult conditions of this season, particularly penalising for a fledgeling project, the bike improved greatly and significantly reduced the gaps both in the races and in practice on basically all the circuits.”
“Aleix finished [the season] on a high note and, even in the race [Portimao], was lapping with the same times as the leaders. Lorenzo has also shown significant progress in just three races and we know that we can count on Bradley’s professionalism and experience. Aleix will obviously be our top rider. The roles of second rider and test rider will be decided at the end of the winter test schedule.”