Spring, shopping time, but here it is not a question of renewing the wardrobe but of preparing the team for the next two years. Honda and Yamaha set the market alight in winter, then it was the turn of Suzuki and, in the last few days, Ducati with the promotion of Miller to the factory team.
The only two manufacturers still at the window at the moment are KTM and Aprilia. The Austrian company, according to its director Beirer, said it wanted to reconfirm all its riders (the two of the official team and the same number of Tech3) and that the proposals have already been sent. Even in Noale they would like to follow the same path, but at the moment it is not possible, at least for half the team.
For Aleix Espargarò, in fact, there are no particular problems. The Spaniard has been with Aprilia for 4 years and would like to remain for 2 more; in fact, negotiations seem to be at a very advanced stage, even close to a deal.
It was Aleix himself who told the Spanish media: "The conversations were at a standstill until two weeks ago, now we are about to reach an agreement. I have always said that what I want is for the Aprilia to work well and for me to retire with them. I know what the new bike is like, it’s much more competitive than it was, but the most important thing is the technical design. If I renew with Aprilia it will be my final contract, I don't know if it will be for two or more years. I have faith and I hope that the technical project will continue to grow and if so, I would like to be the team leader. "
Espargarò has therefore also put himself forward as ‘captain’, something that his seniority in Aprilia would guarantee him, even if it difficult that this request will be accepted. Not so much because of Aleix's qualities, but for the fact that the new RS-GP is to be developed from scratch and having just one view of things may not be the best solution.
Having said that, in Noale they would also like to continue their relationship with Andrea Iannone, whom they defended to the hilt in the case of doping in which the Vasto driver was involved. However, this matter has not yet been resolved. In the next few days, the CAS will probably communicate the date of the hearing, in the hope that it can be organized before the start of the championship scheduled for mid-July. Previous cases indicate that Andrea will most likely be acquitted, but if this were not the case, there is a disqualification hanging over his head until June 2021, so it would be impossible to talk about a renewal in those conditions.
What are the alternatives to Iannone? The name Dovizioso comes to mind, the man who helped to raise Ducati from the ashes. There would be no better rider to take the RS-GP to a higher plane but, even if the man from Forlì decides to leave Ducati, his retainer fee is high, too much for the coffers of the Noale manufacturer, which on the one hand like all companies is having to face up to the economic crisis and, on the other, has already invested heavily in the restructuring of its racing department. In a nutshell, to see Dovi on an Aprilia, he would have to make himself available at a knock-down price.
In recent weeks, it seems that Cal Crutchlow has also been knocking on Noale's door, but the small talk was virtually over even before it got going.
This does not mean, however, that Aprilia has no other cards to play. There is Danilo Petrucci, who before trying to switch to SBK wants to try to find a place in MotoGP. There had already been contacts between Aprilia and the rider from Terni a couple of years back, but an agreement was not reached, and Danilo succeeded in joining the official Ducati team.
Now the situation is completely different and such an agreement would be convenient for both sides. Petrucci would remain in MotoGP and Aprilia would be guaranteed a fast rider with a lot of experience in Ducati, which is useful for developing the new bike.
The problem that remains to be solved is Iannone, and it can only be done by going through a courtroom…