Aprilia ‘sorry to lose a talent like Maverick’, but Bezzecchi ‘clear choice’

Massimo Rivola: “I think I couldn't have a better rider line-up for next year.”

Maverick Vinales, Massimo Rivola
Maverick Vinales, Massimo Rivola

Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola admits he’s sad to see Maverick Vinales departing but is ‘super happy’ to have signed Marco Bezzecchi in his place for MotoGP 2025.

“What will happen, I don't know. But I think I couldn't have a better rider line-up for next year," Rivola said on Monday, after the Bezzecchi deal was officially announced.

With Aleix Espargaro retiring and Vinales switching to Tech3 KTM, Aprilia will run an all-new line-up of triple VR46 Ducati MotoGP winner Bezzecchi (25) and current Pramac Ducati title leader Jorge Martin (26).

Martin’s deal was concluded during the post-race test at Mugello, at which stage Rivola still hoped to retain Aprilia’s COTA winner Vinales.

“Everything went quite quickly. I knew that Mugello most likely was supposed to be a sort of deadline for Jorge, and I wanted to be ready to catch him. And that was the case,” Rivola explained.

“Then Maverick [made] his decision and he was very fair in telling us in advance. So from Mugello to now, not a huge time has passed and for me it was clear the choice on Bezzecchi.

“The pieces went in the right place quite quickly.

“Again, I fully respect the decision of Maverick. It's a bit of a pity, but at the end it gives us also an opportunity to have an Italian rider and such a good one.”

Aprilia acquired then nine-time MotoGP race winner Vinales after a shock mid-2021 split from Yamaha.

It took the Spaniard longer than expected to win on the RS-GP, with team-mate Aleix Espargaro continuing to lead the Aprilia challenge throughout 2022 and 2023.

Everything came together for Vinales at round two, in Portimao, this season, where a Sprint win was followed by a perfect double in COTA.

Although he hasn’t been on a Sunday podium since, Vinales remains the top Aprilia rider in the world championship, in sixth.

For sure I'm sorry to lose a talent like Maverick. As I said, I would love to see more ‘Austin’ with him and I'm ready to bet with you that we will see more of those by the end of the season.

“But I respect the decision he [made] and I think we had a very good time together. He was, I don't want to say lost, but in a very difficult position at the end of his Yamaha story, and we were struggling at the end of 2021.

“I think that the next 13 rounds we will see a fighting Maverick, I'm sure about that. And I hope and I think our story together will end in the best way.

“I think he wants to be the only one winning with so many different manufacturers. He has the talent to do it and that's it.”

Jorge Martin, Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio Quartararo
Jorge Martin, Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio Quartararo

Aprilia: ‘I think we are betting on the right horses’

Vinales’ exit means that Aprilia will have an all-new line-up for the first time since 2017, when Espargaro and arrived from Suzuki and was joined by rookie Sam Lowes.

“This is the only question mark that we have, because it's not ideal to change two riders at the same time,” said Rivola. “But with two such good talents [Martin and Bezzecchi], I think we are betting on the right horses.

“It's not ideal but we also have a satellite team and I hope that the satellite team will give us a bit of continuity. So let's see. Again, it's not ideal, but when you have a couple like Martin and Bezzecchi, you must be happy!”

Rivola also praised the role of test rider Lorenzo Savadori, who has been something of an unsung hero for his development work on the RS-GP.

“We need to give credit to Lorenzo Salvadori, who has been our test rider for many years,” Rivola said. “And despite, it looks like, [being] not really competitive when he does a wild card, I have to say that he is a bit of a victim of us!

“You need to have the attitude and the love for your team, your factory, your manufacturer to do what you are asked to do. And so far, we always got in the right direction.

“For sure, the riding style of Maverick gave us an additional booster to the development because Aleix was already with us since a lot of years. And for sure having a satellite team was also another step forward.

“Soon there will be four RS-GP24s [when Raul Fernandez is upgraded] so that will be another way to step up, but we think that the drawing office and the test team in Noale are doing a great job.

“Obviously still not enough and I know that it will never be enough, but we rely and trust a lot on their job.”

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