Aprilia is about to have his “most important” year in MotoGP

Since it is a concession manufacturer, Aprilia is, after KTM, one of only two manufacturers allowed to start the 2021 campaign with a completely new bike, as the COVID-19 cost-saving rules mean that non-concession brands will have to transfer their 2020 engines.

Despite finishing last in the constructors’ table, Aleix Espargaro stated repeatedly that the 2020 RS-GP was the best bike he had ridden since joining Aprilia in 2017.

Also read:

With the current rules, 2021 is Aprilia’s biggest opportunity since returning to MotoGP in 2015 to close the performance gap with the top manufacturers.

When asked by Motorsport.com if this is why he thinks 2021 will be Aprilia’s most important year, Rivola said: “The answer is yes.

“For me it is the third year and my second bike, because the bike was already finished at 19.

“It’s the most important year, even more without Fausto [Gresini].

“The goal was to go official and maybe even have a satellite team [in 2022]Because four drivers and four motorcycles facilitate growth and performance.

“So yeah, it’s the most important year for us. But I’m pretty positive.”

Rivola announced that Aprilia had been given a May deadline by Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, to come up with plans for satellite operations in 2022 but declined to comment further as the Gresini team boss, Fausto Gresini, who recently passed away.

In addition to a new motorcycle, Aprilia will put up a revised roster, with its former test rider Lorenzo Savadori moving to Espargaro.

Aprilia’s original plan was to evaluate both Savadori – who drove instead of Bradley Smith for the last three laps of 2020 – and Smith during pre-season testing, but Rivola says the Italian’s signing had a nudge effect internally.

“Well, it was a corporate decision,” Rivola said when signing Savadori over Smith.

“We decided to go ahead a little earlier than expected, that all tests would be done, as this had a chain effect for other people as well and the selection of other people on the team was also very important for the development of the team.”

“It is true that Bradley has an experience and a trait that goes much better with being a test driver than Lorenzo because Lorenzo has no experience.

“So that was part of the choice.”

Rivola also expressed a desire to keep Smith as a test driver for 2021, but conceded that the decision to put Savadori on a racing seat above the British meant it wasn’t a given to keep going.