Oliveira’s path to an Aprilia seat blocked but “never say never”

There should be no vacancy at Aprilia’s factory team in 2024 yet the door has not been completely slammed in Miguel Oliveira’s face.

The possibility of an unexpected space has been left open by Aprilia, even if their intention is to respect the contracts in place for current duo Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales.

The situation stems around Espargaro, MotoGP’s oldest rider this season at 33 years old, and whether he will want to stick around for the final year of his contract.

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Oliveira has joined Aprilia’s customer team RNF this year, having left KTM at the end of 2022 when they wanted him to join their Tech3 satellite line-up.

"Miguel knows that Aleix and Maverick are under contract with Aprilia for two more years," Aprilia race director Massimo Rivola told Speedweek.

But the door was left open when Rivola said: "We always emphasise: Never say never in life.

“For example, we saw what can happen with Maverick with Yamaha in 2021. 

Aleix Espargaro, Sepang MotoGP test, 10 February
Aleix Espargaro, Sepang MotoGP test, 10 February

“But our goal is to respect our plan. For example, if Aleix wants to quit after two years and maybe concentrate on his passion for road cycling, there is a free seat."

Vinales left Yamaha midway through 2021, a bitter relationship halted in extraordinary circumstances when the rider was suspended for deliberately trying to damage his engine. He left the team before the end of the year.

Aprilia’s 2024 MotoGP rider line-up may include Espargaro and Vinales unless anything surprisingly changes, but Oliveira could profit next year from a factory bike with the RNF team.

Oliveira won two races last season, both in wet conditions. He is contracted by Aprilia for 2023 and 2024 - the same duration as Vinales and Espargaro.

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