The final MotoGP factory squad, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, unveiled their latest 2020 Aprilia RS-GP with the latest livery (same, same but different compared to last season’s) but with a slight difference to other teams; their official photoshoot includes Aprilia’s official test rider, Bradley Smith.
Now, why would Aprilia include a third person in their two-rider factory squad? Since Andrea Iannone is still effectively being banned for the use of steroids (which is currently being appealed due to small amounts despite both samples tested positive), Aprilia needs a replacement while waiting for the end result of the Italian’s case.
While Iannone is under the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ circumstances, Bradley Smith might just step up and take the role of the rider, presumably for the first few rounds until Iannone is cleared from all allegations.
Then there’s the issue between him and Aleix Espargaro. The Spaniard felt ‘super insulted’ by Iannone’s statement regarding his effort in developing the Aprilia RS-GP as the main contributor and not of the team, Espargaro, or even Bradley Smith. Their relationship is presumably on a low end and with Iannone’s poor track performance in 2019, his future with Aprilia is definitely on the line.
Moving on with the bike, the 2020 RS-GP is not only showcased with the new livery but also complete with all the aero packages used by the team during the Sepang winter test. This means that what you’re looking at are the actual bikes that will compete in the 2020 season.
The introduction of a brand new 90° V4 engine is said to produce around 280hp and paired with a new chassis and aerodynamic package, the results have been positive so far. What we can expect is that the Aprilias will be more constant in the top 10 battles, but with other manufacturers rising up fast (particularly KTM), it won’t be smooth sailing for the Italian outfit.
The MotoGP teams are currently going through their final test session in Qatar and the first round will take place on 8 March 2020 under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. Race times have been slightly altered, so do expect some amazing shots while the riders barrel down the front straight with the sun setting in the background.