Marco Melandri has made his Aprilia Racing track debut at Jerez as traditional post-season testing got underway in Spain.
Though there has been no official confirmation from either the rider or the team, Melandri is widely expected to join Aprilia next season following the withdrawal of BMW, with his outing on the RSV4 in Spain simply adding to the speculation.
It is anticipated that Melandri will be joined Sylvain Guintoli next season, with Eugene Laverty controversially losing his place despite finishing runner-up to Tom Sykes with nine wins to his name. The Irishman has been linked with a move into MotoGP, though it is rumoured that Romano Albesiano's first act as Aprilia Racing boss could be to find a way of retaining him.
In addition to Melandri testing the Aprilia, Jonathan Rea is back on track for Pata Honda having recovered from his broken femur, while Loris Baz also took the opportunity to get reacquainted with Superbike machinery at Kawasaki.
Elsewhere, Leandro Mercado is on track with Pedercini Kawasaki on a bike that is believed to have been tuned to be eligible for the new EVO class, a sub-division that will run in the same WSBK races.
For more images of Melandri testing the Aprilia RSV4, scroll down [credit: Circuito de Jerez Facebook]