The chess game of the managers on the rider transfer market continues, even if there are not many pieces left to move. It is a problem for those who are forced to wait to make an important decision for their future, and any reference to Aprilia is not casual. In Noale, at the moment they have their hands tied, pending the decision of the CAS that no one knows when it will arrive. It is now certain that the championship will start without Iannone, who is still serving his doping ban and is hoping that the appeal to the Lausanne court will completely exonerate him.
At the moment, however, it is only hope. We will have to wait, probably even until late August, to find out if Andrea will be able to get on the Aprilia again or not. Test rider Bradley Smith will start the championship, with Lorenzo Savadori in the reserve role in case of unexpected events. It is an emergency line-up, but that is exactly the situation they have to face in Noale.
While the Iannone affair has hit Aprilia hard in the short term, its repercussions could continue for the future, with the Noale manufacturer having to pay for (any) responsibility that it has nothing to do with.
In fact, there is the RS-GP to be developed and for now the work has been done by Aleix Espargarò on his own, the Spaniard reconfirmed to ensure the only possible continuity of the project. Smith, as mentioned, will be at his side on the track starting from the Jerez Grand Prix, but the British rider is not the first choice for 2021.
They will have to look elsewhere and the situation at the moment does not offer much to go by. Danilo Petrucci would have been the ideal rider: Italian, with experience in MotoGP and young. Obviously, however, he did not want to wait and put his signature on the contract proposed by KTM.
Who then remains on the market? Cal Crutchlow is the answer. For the British rider there is no longer any place in Honda. With the arrival of Pol Espargarò in the official team, he will have to make room for Alex Marquez in LCR, with Nakagami safe thanks to his sponsor.
While Cal was thinking about retiring one year ago, he would now like to continue for at least another season and has decided to pick up the phone. He has tried with KTM and Ducati but without success and now he has Aprilia as a last resort. In Noale they have not said no, but neither have they said yes. Iannone would remain the first choice but sporting justice will decide, not them. If there was any possibility of seeing Andrea on the track even next year, the place would be his, otherwise they will have to look for a replacement.
From this point of view, Crutchlow could be a good choice. He is no longer young, but he has a lot of experience and could accept a contract for only one season.
But Cal may have to win over the competition from other riders. With a bike to develop Aprilia will hardly go and look for someone in Moto2, the rookie card would be too risky, but there are other riders on the market (or there may be).
Leaving Andrea Dovizioso aside (and his cost) but staying in Ducati's orbit there would certainly be Johann Zarco. Unless there are any revolutions with an eventual farewell for Dovi, the Frenchman will probably not have a place in the official team or in Pramac and might want something more than being in the Avintia team with a Desmosedici that is not at top level. Zarco is trying to rebuild his career after the disaster with KTM and after his no-deal with Honda, Aprilia could therefore be the launching pad he is looking for.
For now, these are the two names, but in MotoGP there are always surprises. There is no hurry, sporting justice will have to run its course and it will be her who decides the fate of Aprilia.