Aprilia could join forces with Shaun Muir's SMR team for a factory-backed return to World Superbike in 2017.
The Italian manufacturer won the World SBK title in 2010, 2012 and 2014 before concentrating its efforts on MotoGP.
A last-minute deal with Ioda kept the RSV4 on the grid this year, with rookie Lorenzo Savadori claiming multiple six top-six finishes on a bike that has had 'zero' development.
Inspired by such results, Aprilia Racing director Romano Albesiano confirmed that the factory is interested in forming a partnership with Shaun Muir's Milwaukee-backed squad.
SMR won the British Superbike title with Tommy Hill (2011) and Josh Brookes (2015) before moving to World Superbike this season. They currently run Brookes and Karel Abraham on BMW machinery.
“We are having some talks with Shaun, who I meet in Misano and made a very positive impression. He is a very professional guy,” Albesiano told Crash.net
“The [RSV4] being raced at the moment is the same as last year. Zero development. Because we signed with Ioda a week before the season began, so we had no possibility to make any kind of development.
“But if we can define a plan quite early, we can make a proper development next year for Shaun and maybe also for Ioda.”
Albesiano confirmed that such a partnership would allow Aprilia to concentrate on the technical side, while SMR provide the race team.
“It would be good to be there in a way we can afford - from a work force point of view - because most of the workforce is now here in MotoGP. If we can do a good job in World Superbike, why not?”
A proven, high-profile rider would be needed to help justify such factory support - and a former Aprilia star is available in the form of Eugene Laverty.
Currently in MotoGP with Aspar, Laverty won ten World SBK races for Aprilia and was the 2013 title runner-up. Is Laverty of interest for the project?
“Sure. Eugene is a very good rider and did very well with Aprilia in the past,” Albesiano said. “[The riders] will be a team choice anyway, not just our choice.”
Laverty is also in talks with Yamaha and Ducati about a possible World Superbike return, alongside discussions to stay in MotoGP with Aspar, where he is tenth in the world championship.
By Peter McLaren