Aprilia's racing manager Romano Albesiano has revealed that Eugene Laverty will have a role to play in the factory's MotoGP programme in 2017, alongside competing in the World Superbike championship for the Italian marque.
On Thursday an official announcement confirmed Laverty will return to contest the World Superbike series with SMR Aprilia aboard a factory supported RSV4. But speaking to Crash.net
, Albesiano also detailed how Laverty will test Aprilia's RS-GP during the winter months at the preseason MotoGP tests.
Albesiano stated Laverty's role as a test rider for the MotoGP machine was “part of the contract”. Asked whether the Irishman would be present at each of the preseason tests he added, “Probably, yeah.”
And beyond that? “For sure we don't want to disturb the focus of Eugene on the main target, which is the World Superbike title. But for sure, keeping this in mind, we'll try to use this as much as possible.”
With the development of Aprilia's current RS-GP machine behind schedule at the close of 2015, the Noale factory's involvement in the World Superbike series was put on hold as succeeding in the MotoGP class took priority.
Albesiano explained that as the RS-GP is taking competitive shape, Aprilia now has the time and resources available to lend support to the SMR-run effort.
“In MotoGP we have been in a construction phase, in 2015 and '16. We really have no time doing almost anything in Superbike. I'm not saying that now we are OK in MotoGP. We are still in a construction phase.
“We have a good bike, we must improve this bike, but we don't have to build it from nothing. So we can probably spend some effort in developing the Superbike, doing something with it. We expect some improvements.
“The team is the Milwaukee team. The structure is from Milwaukee. We will support some engineering part. The most delicate parts, mostly electronics parts are generally more critical.
“[We will] Bring inside the team the knowledge of the bike. They have no knowledge of the bike so we will bring some guys over that know how our bike works. This is the spirit.”
On the signing of Laverty – currently eleventh in the MotoGP world championship – Albesiano admitted Shaun Muir had played the key role in securing the 30-year old's services.
“First of all it was a decision made mostly by the team. Don't forget that the Milwaukee team has a big role in this. We support the team as best as we can but it's the team which is there. So they had this option with Eugene and we confirmed that it was absolutely interesting for us. So they did it.
“He has the potential to be a competitor in MotoGP, but definitely in Superbike he will be a potential winner.”
For 2017 Laverty will compete alongside current World Superbike competitor Lorenzo Savadori, a rider whose rookie season has made an impression on Albesiano and Aprilia bosses.
“In real life two plus two is not always giving you four. But for sure it's realistic to think that Lorenzo, with more experience – I will say more experience than support because now he has good support from the Ioda team, which is doing very good work – and a bike that will be slightly improved, he can do very well.
“The real potential of the kid, we still don't know. But we are excited to see what the potential of this guy is. I don't remember a rookie doing as well as him in World Superbikes, so we are very confident that he can do very well. Fighting for the championship for next year looks too much, but who knows?”