Aprilia has announced it has secured the services of Aleix Espargaro for at least two more years, beginning with the 2021 MotoGP season.
The elder Espargaro brother joined the Italian manufacturer in 2017 after losing his Suzuki ride to Andrea Iannone, and scored Aprilia’s joint-best ever result of sixth on his debut on the RS-GP in that year’s Qatar Grand Prix.
Espargaro has proven to be a major asset to Aprilia in the seasons since, and has played a major role in the RS-GP’s radical overhaul for the 2020 campaign.
He told Motorsport.com a fortnight ago that a new deal with Aprilia was close, and on Tuesday his commitment to the Italian marque was announced.
“I am happy about this confirmation,” commented Espargaro. “The human aspect is extremely important for me, and in four seasons, Aprilia has become my second family, so with this contract, which is certainly the most important of my career, they demonstrated that I am at the centre of this project.
“On a technical level, the growth in recent months convinced me, with the arrival of many reinforcements and the debut of the 2020 RS-GP, which did so well in the tests.
“I feel like we need to finish the job we started over the winter. I can’t wait to get back together with my entire team and race with the new bike, to take this project where it deserves to be.”
The identity of Espargaro’s teammate remains unknown, with Iannone currently awaiting the outcome of his appeal against his 18-month ban for a doping violation.
Aprilia has publicly backed Iannone and has repeatedly insisted its desire to retain the Italian should his appeal prove successful.
However, it is beginning to look more likely that outgoing Ducati race winner Danilo Petrucci will be offered a deal by Aprilia.
This latest move in the rider market follows the news that Aleix’s younger brother Pol Espargaro will be leaving KTM for Honda at the end of the year.
It is thought Alex Marquez, who is yet to actually race the factory Honda, will be moved to the satellite LCR team with full works support.
With Takaaki Nakagami’s side of the LCR garage specifically set up for a Japanese rider, Cal Crutchlow will most likely be moved aside to accommodate Marquez.
With options outside of LCR limited, Crutchlow – having made a U-turn on his outlook earlier this year – could be heading for retirement in 2021 after all.
2021 MotoGP line-up so far:
|Tech 3 KTM|
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