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Don’t call us, we’ll call you | Why Aprilia can bask in its wealth of choice for 2025 MotoGP

Gold & Goose

Cast your mind back to 2020. 

Aprilia is pondering its options a year on from Andrea Iannone being forcibly removed from his seat due to a doping suspension.

It has just spent a season with Bradley Smith, who was ported into the seat in something of a half-race, half-test, half-baked role. Aprilia is seeking a big name to replace him but despite chasing Andrea Dovizioso - fresh from walking away from Ducati’s negotiation table - it can’t get him to agree to a deal.


It looks to Moto2 and taps up the likes of Joe Roberts, but even the American decides against making the step too soon (erroneously as it turns out). Truth is, Aprilia still hasn’t made much of an impact on the MotoGP stage, in part because it is divvying its effort between its own in-house team and that of Gresini Racing, and no-one wants to be aligned. In the end, it picks Lorenzo Savadori.

But the move to take Aprilia Racing in-house sees the team making huge strides through 2021 - helped in part by some luck in getting hold of Maverick Vinales nice and early post-Yamaha dismissal - and is a prelude to a breakthrough 2022 season that sees Espargaro get that long awaited win and even mount a title bid for a time.

Another strong - if patchy - 2023 MotoGP season consolidates its position as a genuine force in the series, so even before 2024 gets underway Aprilia finds itself in a very strong position for negotiation for the future for the first time since its return to the series in 2016.

How the tables have turned...

Far from it knocking on the doors of riders pitching to them, the tables have been turned and Aprilia Racing has some strong cards in its hand.

Whether it has space remains to be seen. Espargaro has mentioned retirement a few times, only to get another wind (I think we’re onto his twelfth wind by now…) and re-sign, Aprilia no doubt loathe to be the one to sever ties with the rider given he has stuck with it through thick and very thin over the past seven seasons.

Vinales, just as he was at Yamaha, is still a bit of an enigma. Fearsomely fast on his day, but yet to top the podium and strong occasional results notwithstanding, he’s rarely looked like he could stick it to Ducati and KTM on pure pace in the two and a half years he’s been there.

It makes recent comments from Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola that he has to ‘keep his eyes open’ a sure sign that he is aware of the team’s worth among potential suitors and he can afford to look very high.

While KTM is perhaps a touch preoccupied with itself and Honda going through a phase of transition, it both deters them from looking around and likely prevents others from considering them. Same too Yamaha, though Fabio Quartararo might be worth a scope even if the Frenchman will likely have his heart set on a Ducati if he is to leave the comfy confines of the Iwata marque.


Over at Ducati, however, there are rich pickings to potentially entice. The manufacturer’s rich depth in quality and quantity is all very well, but when there are only two factory seats on the table and one is already occupied by a double World Champion unlikely to want to leave, competition for the spot alongside him is fierce.

That race suit looks 'very Aprilia', just saying...

The 'other' all-Italian factory option...

While Aprilia won’t necessarily be in a position to offer something as good as a ‘red Ducati’, there will be at least two disappointed riders who won’t get one in 2025.


As for who they will be, remains to be seen. On paper, any one of Enea Bastianini, Jorge Martin or Marco Bezzecchi make good targets, but even Fabio di Giannantonio or Franco Morbidelli if it comes to that too.

For Bastianini, there is a lot of ground to make up after his 2024 season was ruined by injury. Not only does he have to perform at a level to keep Martin and Bezzecchi at bay, but he needs to be close enough - even if not on a par - with Bagnaia to assure he is the same rider that pushed the Italian all the way in 2022 on the Gresini machine.

In some ways, Bezzecchi might well come to rue his decision not to take the chance to ride the Ducati GP24 under Pramac Racing’s wing in 2024. The 2023-spec machine may come with the kiss of familiarity with VR46 Racing but last year’s standout isn’t enjoying the transition from the GP22 quite as much. Plus it makes the likelihood of a double promotion to the factory team next year less likely.

Coupled with the talk that VR46 Racing might jump ship to Yamaha anyway and Bezzecchi too would be wise to keep his options open through the year.

Finally, there is Martin. While Rivola doesn’t name him specifically, the Spaniard is ripe for poaching and he would be a savvy signing.

After dismissing many (if not all) demons from his raw, exciting but a touch unrefined riding style last year, Martin proved he can be faster than Bagnaia, if not as consistent.

Should he continue to glean motivation from proving the doubters wrong and beat Bagnaia in 2024, then the red carpet will likely - and literally - be rolled out for him in place of Bastianini. If not and there is some parity between himself and Bastianini, then Martin is more than likely going to look elsewhere… potentially into Aprilia’s hands.

While the Italian marque isn’t quite on a par with Ducati in many ways, Martin would see this as his opportunity to lead a factory team, something he wouldn’t necessarily get to do even if he did get promoted for 2025. Besides, he’s already threatened an exit if he doesn’t get that factory Ducati in 2025, so Aprilia would be wise to begin enticing him now.

Either way, there are options aplenty for Rivola’s roving eyes to fixate on over at Ducati, which might well need to give the hurry up to both Vinales and Espargaro to prove Aprilia is the force it’s threatening to become.

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