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Why are the Aprilias listed as independent team riders? 

Because whole operation is run by Gresini.. Only reason that Aprilia could join the big class was to start a collaboration with an existing team..

thanks, l did realise that.. So if say Kawasaki wanted to join next season they would need to join Avinia or LCR some other existing team? 

l meant, ' l Didn't realized that'..

In that case yes, as Dorna already said that they won't expand to more than 24 riders.. If any new manufacturer wants to join, they will have to do exactly what you mentioned.. Join forces with an existing team

Do you think joining as part of an existing team limits the manufacturer in any way?  or they are still are able to have the same resources (engineers etc), same budget etc they would have if they joined as a factory.

I think it actually helps them a bit in a way, as there is no need to spend a lot of money to get engineers and people to form your team as team is already there.. KTM in fact had a bit harder job, starting from zero in that aspect.. As for the resources, I think it mostly depends on how high the level of support is factory willing to offer and how much money they are willing to spend to make things work for them..

I think you maybe right. Aslo independent teams receive funding from Dorna , so it's probably a bit better for them.

Am I right in thinking Suzuki bought the Paul Bird slot ?

I am no expert in this, so maybe I am.. Or maybe I am not hehe.. But to me it is logical to do things like that.. That is true as well, so all in all it makes sense..