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MotoGP Germany: Melandri out, Michael Laverty in at Aprilia

Marco Melandri's disastrous MotoGP return is over
Marco Melandri has split from Aprilia ahead of this weekend's German MotoGP at Sachsenring, where he will be replaced by test rider Michael Laverty.

Long rumoured, the first concrete signs of Melandri's departure began to leak out earlier today and his exit has now been confirmed by Aprilia:

"Aprilia Racing and Marco Melandri have reached an agreement by mutual consent to terminate the contractual obligations between Marco Melandri and Aprilia Racing.

"Consequently, Marco Melandri will no longer be lined up on the grid with Aprilia Racing starting from the German Grand Prix on 12 July.

"Aprilia Racing wishes Marco Melandri all the best in his future endeavors."

After four-years fighting at the front in World Superbike, Melandri was reluctantly persuaded back to MotoGP by Aprilia's factory grand prix return.

But the 2005 title runner-up has failed to score a point in the eight races to date - compared with eleven points for team-mate Alvaro Bautista, who also finished tenth in Catalunya.

32-year-old Melandri, who complained of a lack of feel and called for chassis stiffness changes, has also qualified in last place (meaning behind Alex de Angelis on the 2014 ART bike) at all but one event this year.

Melandri's exit thus comes as little surprise given his performances and barely concealed misery. He has been linked with a place in Yamaha's 2016 factory WSBK return since round two in Austin.

Michael Laverty raced for PBM in MotoGP during 2013 and 2014 before returning to BSB this season, where he is a seven-time race winner. Laverty is currently seventh in this year's standings, having been denied his first S1000RR podium by a yellow flag incident at Knockhill on Sunday.

Alongside his BSB duties for Tyco BMW, Laverty has continued to build grand prix experience as an official Aprilia test rider, impressing factory boss Romano Albesiano with his feedback during development of items such as the seamless-shift gearbox and pneumatic-valve engine, introduced for the RS-GP this year.

"A warm welcome to Laverty: with Michael working alongside Bautista we will continue development efforts on our bike directly in the races," Albesiano said. "Michael has worked a lot in recent months. With his indications after his first race we'll be able to streamline development, especially in terms of the chassis, where right now we are the most limited.”

It not presently clear if Laverty will ride for the rest of the year or just this weekend, but there is only one clash between the remaining BSB and MotoGP rounds; the BSB finale at Brands Hatch taking place on the same October 16-18 weekend as the Australian MotoGP.

Michael's MotoGP return means he will be racing alongside younger brother Eugene, who is spending his rookie premier-class season with Aspar.

Melandri's only comment so far has been the following tweet:

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Jiri Simek

July 08, 2015 1:44 PM

I hope Yamaha finds someone even better for their return to WSBK. Remember, Marco has already had a few chances on the title shot, but never got it right. He was on factory Yamaha, BMW, Aprilia and never won the title. So I hope they simply give the ride to somebody else, who deserves it more.

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