Aprilia continues racing in MotoGP with Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales until 2024, making it the first to announce its full rider line up beyond 2022.
Aprilia extends contract for both Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales.
Both riders will continue to race aboard the Aprilia RS-GP in 2023 and 2024.
The Noale factory now stands as the first to confirm its full rider line up beyond 2022.
MotoGP 2022 ‘Silly Season’ kicks into high gear ahead of this weekend’s Italian GP at Mugello. Seizing the opportunity ahead of their home race is the Aprilia Racing squad, and the Noale factory have confirmed that both Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales will remain with them until 2024.
The move isn’t a huge surprise, especially in the case of the older of the two Espargaró brothers – he’s been leading the Noale factory’s charge brilliant this season, scoring their first modern MotoGP era race win and charting a hat-trick of podium finishes over the last three races.
Furthermore, Aleix Espargaró currently sits a close second in the riders’ championship standings with 98 points – just 4 points shy of leader and defending world champion Fabio Quartararo. Though it’s still early to make a call on a favourite, Espargaró’s chances does appear very strong indeed.
The move to retain teammate Maverick Viñales draws more curiosity. Aprilia’s younger but yet experienced Spanish rider has struggled to finish higher than 7th (Argentina GP) in the last seven races. Nevertheless, Viñales’ spot in the Noale factory team’s MotoGP effort is secure for two more seasons.
“All the good we are doing this season is the fruit of many components, certainly the value of our designers and our technicians led by Romano Albesiano, the overall growth of our racing department and, in large part, the synergy that our ‘Captain’ Aleix has skillfully built with the bike and with the team,” read the statement issued by Massimo Rivola, Aprilia’s MotoGP Sports Director.
Adding to this was a clearly thrilled Espargaró who said: “Continuing to do so with Aprilia is a source of pride for me. We can grow even more and we want to demonstrate that on the track.” The Spaniard was reportedly vocal at the fact that he wasn’t offered a contract yet, but those thoughts have now been silenced.
“I’m extremely happy to continue my work with Aprilia Racing. Now our horizons are expanding and we’ll be able to work with continuity to achieve ambitious goals. I believe in this project and I’m happy to be part of it,” said Espargaró teammate Viñales regarding his two-year extension with the team.
With both factory-spec Aprilia RS-GP seats confirmed for 2023 and 2024, this leaves the Noale factory no longer an option for the rest of the grid, particularly for both Suzuki riders Alex Rins and Joan Mir. Their sudden availability following Suzuki’s shock decision to quit the sport and blown the rider market wide open.
The next destination for both, especially for 2020 world champion Mir, remains a hotly debated subject, as are the statuses of all Ducati riders bar Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia. Another rider still to sign for 2023 and beyond is defending world champion Fabio Quartararo but, despite the struggles with his Yamaha machine, the Iwata factory is widely expected to retain the Frenchman.
With four races left – including this weekend’s Italian GP – just before we hit the mid-season point, we can likely expect more contract announcements in the weeks and months leading up to it.