Aprilia is trying to build up its future on the basis of a present that has made everything more difficult. The Covid pandemic disrupted development plans and Iannone's doping affair deprived Noale of one of its riders. It was the worst possible situation in the year the project was revolutionized, with the arrival of the new RS-GP. The priority was to notch up the miles and gather information, which was lacking for external reasons.
Aprilia tried to make amends in the only possible way: by promoting Bradley Smith as rider and trying to speed up Lorenzo Savadori's apprenticeship as a tester. It was undoubtedly a patch job with in-house resources, but there were no alternatives.
Massimo Rivola, however, must now plan for the future and is trying to do so, albeit with some difficulties, as he still has to wait until mid-November, when the CAS will make a final decision, in order to understand Iannone's future.
One of the priorities is the test team, which should consist of two test riders. The first, already certain, is Lorenzo Savadori, who will take part in the last three races of the season to boost his experience.
And the second? Bradley Smith will no longer be part of the team and in Noale they are trying to sign Jorge Lorenzo. Our colleagues at Speedweek say that the agreement is already a done thing, but to be honest this is not exactly the case. On the contrary, they are only in the early stages of negotiations.
It goes without saying that having the Majorcan in the team would be added value, his knowledge of MotoGP (with a past in Yamaha, Ducati and Honda) would be worth gold to help develop the RS-GP. Yamaha's relations with Lorenzo now seem to be at a standstill and with Aprilia Jorge could continue to ride the bike and contribute to the development of the project.
Of course, the economic factor will have its own importance for both sides, but the bosses at Noale want to try to sign up the Majorcan.
With him the test team would be complete and strengthened, but what about the race team?
As mentioned, we will have to wait a little longer to see if Iannone, whom Aprilia has been waiting for all these months, will be able to get back on the bike already at the beginning of 2021.
In recent weeks, Rivola has made no secret that there are two alternatives to Andrea: Dovizioso and Crutchlow.
There have been contacts with Dovi, but at the moment the chances of an agreement are reduced to almost zero and the rumours that he would like him to be a test rider for Yamaha are proof. Forming an all-Italian pairing would be a dream for many reasons, but it seems destined to remain so.
At this point, the possibility of having Cal has re-emerged big time. The Briton has repeatedly stated his desire to join Aprilia and, at this point, 90% (if Iannone is not acquitted, that should remain clear) it will happen.
If that were the case, the Noale manufacturer would have Aleix Espargarò, who knows the bike and team well, and Cal Crutchlow, who could bring information from Honda, as riders. The two Lorenzos, Savadori and Jorge, would instead be the test riders, one with enormous experience and the other young and with a great desire to learn.
This is the plan of Massimo Rivola, who is trying to build a solid base to relaunch Aprilia. In recent months he has done so with the inclusion of new faces in the racing department (also coming from Formula 1), now he is concentrating on the riders.
The goal is one: to make 2021 the year of a long-awaited turning point…