Aprilia has confirmed it will return to the World Superbike championship as a factory effort in 2017 after agreeing a two-year deal with Shaun Muir Racing.
After weeks of speculation, the Italian manufacturer has officially announced a two-year deal with Shaun Muir Racing to enter a factory-backed team into World Superbikes which will run under the title sponsor as Milwaukee Aprilia.
Eugene Laverty will return to World Superbikes having already confirmed a deal with SMR
while 2015 World Superstock 1000 champion Lorenzo Savadori will join as his team-mate.
In the official announcement, Aprilia has detailed 'technical material and related direct assistance and support will be provided by Aprilia Racing including bike development' to classify Milwaukee Aprilia as the factory-supported team.
The confirmation signals the end of SMR's partnership with Josh Brookes – the pair won the 2015 MCE British Superbike title – Karel Abraham and BMW.
Romano Albesiano, Aprilia Racing Manager, has stressed the outlining of the factory effort having leased two RSV4 machines without development to IodaRacing for 2016 and is delighted with the rider pairing of Laverty and Savadori.
"Shaun Muir's team, after making a good name for themselves in the British championship, wants to get to the top of a world category,” Albesiano said. “Our agreement includes, in addition to providing bikes and materials, support from Aprilia Racing personnel to manage and develop the RSV4, within a Factory Support type relationship.
"The birth of the Milwaukee Aprilia Racing Team also marks Eugene Laverty's return to WSBK, a rider who we know well and whose professional and personal qualities have our utmost respect.
“He will have Lorenzo Savadori working alongside him, a young rider who has been part of our sports project for two seasons in which he won the Superstock 1000 title first and then drew attention in WSBK with an extremely positive rookie year.”
Laverty, who confirmed he would be leaving MotoGP to return to World Superbikes with SMR over a month ago in Brno ahead of the Czech Republic race
, finished the 2013 season as runner-up in WSBK with Aprilia and is solely focused on battling for the 2017 title.
"I'm excited to return to Superbike with Aprilia and the RSV4, a bike with which I took ten wins and second place overall in the championship,” Laverty said. “I hope to be able to pick up where I left off with those results, thanks to the support of Aprilia and a fantastic team like SMR. Everything is in place for us to be competitive straight away."
Savadori has enjoyed a solid debut campaign in WSBK this season with best results of two fourth place finishes (Assen race two and Donington Park race two) and crashed out of a potential maiden podium in the wet race two at the Lausitzring while running in second.
"I am very happy to continue my adventure in World Superbikes with Aprilia,” Savadori said. “This is another chance to achieve great results, with one more year of experience on the RSV4 for me.
“In a demanding rookie season I was already able to express a good performance level, learning a lot, both about race management and working in the garage, but I do not want to stop here. We will definitely be highly motivated at the start, with an ambitious project and a great desire to do well."
"For SMR, collaboration with Aprilia Racing for 2017 and 2018 means a real chance to fight for the win,” Shaun Muir concluded. “Aprilia has a strong and victorious history in World Superbike and we are determined to continue on the same path. Having Eugene and Lorenzo on board makes this a dream team.
“Without a doubt, Eugene is coming back to WorldSBK for one reason only - to win. Lorenzo, on the other hand, is the fastest rookie and a sure protagonist. I wish to thank Milwaukee, Gulf and all of the partners who are supporting our project."