After more than a few rumours regarding Aprilia and Maverick Viñales joining forces in MotoGP, it was announced just the other week that the ex-Yamaha Factory rider has indeed signed for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini. And we’re not going to have to wait long to see him climb abord it either. You might have seen Aprilia announce that he’ll be making his Aprilia debut in just over a week’s time in in Aragon.
But actually, that’s not strictly true. He’s had a couple of day testing at Misano which, by all accounts, went fairly well. He’ll be riding Lorenzo Savadori’s bike for the rest of the year, provided he doesn’t throw his teddies out the pram again.
Sazadori’s had a demotion to test rider, to commence once he’s poorly ankle’s better. That’s the broken ankle sustained at the Styrian GP when Dani Pedrosa crashed in front of him.
Viñales will be joining current Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro, fresh after his Silverstone GP podium (third). And if Aleix Espargaro is capable of putting the Aprilia on the podium, you’d have to say Viñales is. In fact you’d probably have to say he’s capable of sticking it on the top of the podium. The bloke’s a MotoGP race winner in the last six seasons on the trot; that’s all but his rookie season.
Gresini will be confident that they’ve got a bike capable of winning, and now they’ve got a rider capable of winning, will be expecting strong results.
Aprilia are obviously over the moon to welcome the uppity Spaniard to the party as Massimo Rivola, Aprilia Racing CEO had this to say,
“We are extremely proud to be able to announce our plans for the current season and for 2022 with the goal of optimising the contributions of our three riders to the utmost. Alongside our confirmed rider, Aleix, it’s our pleasure to welcome a talented athlete like Viñales to the Aprilia Racing team. Maverick demonstrated a great feeling with the team and the bike straight away. I am confident he will be able to give his best as early as the Aragón GP. At the same time, we are also confirming Lorenzo’s (Savardori) role as 2022 test rider. This is a fundamental position that rewards the great efforts he has demonstrated in developing the new RS-GP. He (Savadori) will finish out the 2021 season taking advantage of the wild cards that we’ll decide on together as soon as he is back to 100% fitness.”
And Aprilia Racing’s Technical Director, Romano Albesiano said this,
“The decision to have Maverick on the track from Aragón is a direct result of the tests done in Misano. It was not a given that, after a career spent up to now on a bike with an in-line engine, Maverick would have a good feeling with our V4 straight away. This is why the Misano test, historically not an easy one for our bike, was an important moment of assessment. Therefore, we are satisfied with Maverick’s immediately positive reactions. He demonstrated a good feeling both with the RS-GP and with the team and our work method. His and Aleix’s talent, combined with the experience Lorenzo has gained this season, make us optimistic about the future of our MotoGP project.”
And that’s fair enough. I think they have every right to be optimistic. Can the Viñales bring home Gresini’s first premier class ‘winners’ trophy since Toni Elias won the Portuguese GP in 2006? I wouldn’t be surprised…