Lorenzo Savadori will be the new face of the paddock at Valencia and Portimao. The Italian rider was chosen by Aprilia to compete in the last three GPs of the 2020 season aboard the RS-GP, in place of a disappointing Bradley Smith, who, despite having carried out his task with seriousness and dedication, has never been particularly fast on the track. Savadori does not know the bike very well, he only carried out a complete test at Misano on the 2020 version of the Noale machine, but Rivola decided to give him an honest chance that has a particular significance.
Savadori, who this season also won the Italian SBK title riding an RSV4 of Team Nuova M2 Racing, already has a test rider contract for 2021 in his pocket and it will not be these three races that will decide his future. But in any case Rivola must have thought of preparing some sort of plan B, in the event that all the scenarios should lead to the impossibility of seeing Iannone on track in 2021. Negotiations with Crutchlow are at an advanced stage - but not concluded - and it is clear that there is a concrete possibility of seeing Lorenzo in the role of tester, but even in this case there is still no signature.
These three races will therefore be an opportunity for Savadori to grow and at the same time to put himself to the test. If he could demonstrate good growth in these races, perhaps approaching the performance of the much more experienced Espargarò, his chances of becoming a solid alternative for the starting position in 2021 would increase considerably.
"For me it was a great surprise - explained an enthusiastic Savadori - I received a phone call from Massimo Rivola just before the press release was issued. I was very happy, I didn't know anything beforehand and it was a very nice moment. I'm grateful to Aprilia obviously for this opportunity, there were no wild cards in my contract ".
2021 is still in the future however and for the moment there are big names on the list like those of Crutchlow and Lorenzo, should it prove to be impossible for Iannone to get back on track. What effect does it have on you to see your name together with these riders?
"I feel honoured to see my name associated with Lorenzo and Crutchlow's, it's nice. They are two great champions and for me the important thing will be to learn a lot from them too. They have a lot of experience with this category, so there will be a lot to learn and it will be a huge growth opportunity for me. I can't wait. Honestly I don't know what my chances of being a starter are next year. My goal is to race here in MotoGP, I hope to succeed. But right now I'm focused on tomorrow's FP1 ".
Could the future be a distraction for you?
"We spoke with Aprilia, it's my second family, but now I'm focused on the present. For the future we will have to talk better about things. I'm focused on these races, I just think about doing as many laps as possible, to get to know the track. I don't know Valencia very well, while with Portimao it is different. I will need to ride a lot, this will be my first goal. I have tried the bike a few times, and the GP20 at Misano in tests and that's it. I was supposed to ride at Brno but because of the weather we didn’t do it. Of course I don't really know it very well, but for me this is an opportunity to increase my knowledge and level. It will help me to understand this category better. "
How are you experiencing this situation, do you feel the pressure?
"I don't feel anxious, but I know I have a lot to learn. I don't feel in a situation where I can push 100% and I lack total knowledge of the bike. So maybe saying that 'I live one day at a time’ is bad, it's not really like this. But I will be concentrated every round, trying to improve progressively, this is our goal. Of course I'm excited and I can't wait. "
For what you have tried, how do you rate the 2020 bike compared to the previous one?
"The RS-GP 20 in my opinion is a big step forward compared to the RS-GP 19. We have to do more kilometres, because it is still a new bike, but I think the project has great potential. I am in any case a test rider, so in fact I do tests and race in the same moment. Maybe in these three races I will be more focused on the race and maybe in some circumstances I will also try something for the future. We need to understand some things better, we’ll see how it goes ".
How did Aleix Espargarò welcome you to the team?
" Aleix and I often talk and obviously we saw each other during the year when I went to the races and watched them from the track. I have a great relationship with him, he wrote me a message 'Welcome aboard' and I was really pleased, I have a very good relationship with him, he is a great rider and I also hope to learn a lot from him in these races. "
Portimao is a track you know quite well and you will get there after doing two MotoGP races. Could this be a great chance for you?
"Portimao on paper is the track I know best, so I will try to gain experience here to get as prepared as possible there. This is my goal, it is a track that I like, that I know well but there will be an extra session for everyone so in any case the other riders will be well prepared ".