What Aprilia’s satellite deal means for the MotoGP rider market
With the not entirely unexpected news that satellite team Yamaha WithU RNF Racing will switch to Aprilia machines for 2023, after just one year with the Japanese brand, it throws a new wrench into the works of an already crazy MotoGP season. .
But as he deals a blow to Yamaha by denying them (at least for now) a satellite team on the grid for the first time in the sport’s modern era, it arguably spells even worse news for the current team driver duo, Andrea. Dovizioso and Darryn Binder.
Former three-time Championship runner-up Dovizioso has had a torrid start to 2022, admitting he’s still fundamentally unable to find a way to adapt his riding style to the current Yamaha M1 and handle the same way as the reigning world champion. Fabio Quartaro.
As a result, his performance has dropped significantly since his glory days with Ducati, with the Italian veteran (who will turn 37 at the start of next season) having scored just eight points in the first seven races of 2022 and so far. unable to pierce. the top 10.
Worse still, technically he is not even an employee of the RNF Racing team, but rather a direct contract with Yamaha, which means that it is very difficult to imagine that he will not only retain his seat with the team, but its place on the end-point grid, instead making retirement the likeliest possibility.
On the other side of the box, Moto3 direct rookie Binder has been open to returning to Moto2 if his own MotoGP luck dies out after just one season. Unexpectedly promoted to the MotoGP team for 2022 partly because of the sponsorship that arrived with him, he has performed better than expected so far this year – but not well enough to mean he is likely to be top of team boss Razlan Razali’s wish list for next year.
Instead, it looks like the Malaysian is looking for even younger drivers to fill his ranks as he tries to establish himself as Aprilia’s true junior partner, something he tried in his previous role as that boss of Petronas Yamaha SRT – in the team that chose the diamond. in the tough Quartararo and helped propel him to the 2021 World Championship for Yamaha.
Aprilia racing boss Massimo Rivola agrees, keen to use his new satellite team – but also hints at the bigger picture in the current rather crazy and silly season.
“This [developing young talent] is why we did this project,” he said after the new partnership was announced. “At the same time, I think this year we are maybe in the unique position where there are maybe expert riders, who are still young in fact, who could be available. there is no rush to decide.
The “expert pilots” that Aprilia might want to look for are perhaps the most obvious. Names like Alex Rins, Miguel Oliveira, Jack Miller and Pol Espargaro (the one who would be very popular with his big brother and Aprilia Aleix’s 2022 title contender) still remain unsigned and could no doubt be tempted by an RS-machine. Very competitive GP, especially if the new Aprilia deal means additional financial resources to help field a big star, at least for now.
However, with eyes set on the growth of young talent, there are a number of other names that will be vying for a seat on the other side of the box.
Last year’s Moto2 runner-up Raul Fernandez has appeared somewhat unsettled in his current seat at KTM’s satellite team Tech3 and would be a natural fit for new RNF team Aprilia.
With Fernandez widely recognized as one of the sport’s rising stars, even if an injured rookie season on the 2022 KTM RC16 sub-par has yet to let him show his true talent in the premier class, there was already a fight to sign him 12 months ago between KTM and the then Yamaha satellite team – and an RS-GP satellite could be a very attractive proposition.
Asked about his plans for 2023 on Thursday before the RNF/Aprilia news became official, Fernandez replied: “I don’t know. I have to do something for this year. I have to do 12 more races and I have to do something to go faster. This is my goal now. I don’t focus on the future.
And afterwards, when pressed specifically on whether he wanted to stay with Tech3, he was also evasive.
“I don’t want to think about that. My whole team knows what I need. I think they work for it.
Another name very much in the mix, according to The Race paddock sources, is current Moto2 favorite Aron Canet, with Razali already in talks with his management to see if there is an option – although the it is believed to be an offer which, like Binder’s in 2022, involves bringing with him considerable financial support.
Canet’s rival for the Moto2 title, Celestino Vietti (pictured above following Canet) could also be interested if Aprilia decides it is in their interest to have at least one Italian in their new satellite team. This deal would theoretically be relatively easy to negotiate thanks to Razali’s familiarity with Vietti’s VR46 management thanks to his past with Valentino Rossi and VR46 Academy rider Franco Morbidelli.
However, with the deal to switch from Yamaha to Aprilia just announced at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix with some key elements of the 2023 grid still to come together (like what’s passes with the 2021 and 2020 world champions Quartararo and Joan Mir), there is still time for Razali and his new partners Aprilia to build their line-up.
This means that now is perhaps the best chance they will have to breathe, see how the next Moto2 rounds go and not make any rash decisions just yet.