Andrea Iannone has been officially banned from FIM competition for the next four years, but where does that leave Aprilia and their 2021 rider line up?
Aprilia has been waiting for the outcome of Andrea Iannone’s hearing, despite claiming that they “would not wait” for the Italian, before committing to their 2021 plans.
Yesterday it was announced that the Italian will face a four year ban, ruling him out until 2024, effectively ending his MotoGP career. But who will the Noale manufacturer turn two to replace the 31-year-old?
We now know that fellow Andrea (Dovizioso) will be taking a year out, potentially competing in a Motocross championship in 2021 with the intention of returning to the MotoGP paddock in 2022. Dovi was the big talk around the paddock for week’s, with many expecting the former three-time runner up to join Aleix Espargaro. However, that rumour was quickly quashed with Dovizioso announcing that he was not in talks with anybody, and that’s where the sabbatical rumours came from – which were later announced as true.
Attention then turned to Jorge Lorenzo, who would most likely join Aprilia as their test rider. The former champion joined Yamaha, the team that delivered the majority of his premier class glory, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lorenzo has completed limited running and is rumoured to be out of a job for 2021.
Ahead of the Valencian Grand Prix, latest Aprilia recruit, Lorenzo Savadori, claimed that he was “excited to work with Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow” in 2021.
The light had been shining on and off Crutchlow for weeks. The current LCR Honda rider was announced to be replaced by Alex Marquez, leaving him without a ride for the upcoming season. Rumours then picked up regarding a World Superbike ride, which was then filled by their current duo, BSB champion Leon Haslam and Ducati’s half-season wonder kid, Alvaro Bautista.
This then stirred up conversation linking Crutchlow to Aprilia, with sources claiming the deal was “90% done” following a “pre-contract agreement between two parties.” That meant Crutchlow could not communicate with other teams or manufacturer’s and had committed his future to the struggling Italian manufacturer.
However, just when you thought the Lorenzo story had ended, it picked up again. Over the European Grand Prix weekend, Lorenzo’s name was featured everywhere, with a rumoured return to racing, which would see him alongside Espargaro with Crutchlow as their test rider.
The most likely candidate is Crutchlow. Despite a troubled 2020 season, the British rider is race fit and is still clearly fast. It would presumably be a fair-well tour for him, however.
One thing’s for certain, the rumours will continue to churn until Massimo Rivola announces their plans for next season.