Aprilia would like to retain the services of Scott Redding in 2019, albeit as its MotoGP test rider, according to the factory's technical chief Romano Albesiano.

The Italian told Crash.net he was “so sorry” to replace the Englishman with Andrea Iannone from next year after a difficult opening to the year, but talked up Redding’s ‘approach’ and ‘speed’ as reasons behind his desire to continue their working relationship.

Redding has endured a difficult opening seven races, claiming just three point-scoring finishes, with a pair of twelfth places in Argentina and Barcelona the strongest of those.

The chance to sign Iannone, said Albesiano, was “an opportunity” that “we had to take”. The Italian will join Aleix Espargaro in the Noale factory team for 2019 and ’20.

“We are actually offering [Redding] a position as a test rider for next year in case he is interested because we really like the way he works, the approach he has and the speed he has,” Albesiano told Crash.net. “We know he’s a fast rider.

“For us it would be very, very nice to have him as a test rider because we need to make a very important step in the test team. So this is something that we’re offering him, also to confirm his precision. When we had the opportunity to have Iannone, we had to do it.

“I think Sam [Lowes] is probably as a rookie not a reference. Scott is a reference. For sure he’s a reference. Sure, he’s struggling. It’s very useful for us to understand the weak points of our bike that are not so clear.

“Comparing the weak point of our bike to his bike of last year, it’s not very obvious what is better or what is worse. Anyway, we know we have some characteristics that we can improve. At this test we are understanding something very important for the future.”

At the Grand Prix of Catalunya, Redding revealed he was considering options in World Superbike, as well as Moto2, and feels the former may be a better long-term option for his career prospects.

Asked if Iannone was an obvious choice once he confirmed he would not be continuing with Suzuki beyond this year, Albesiano answered, “Obvious? It was an opportunity that we grabbed.

“Sure, there are no doubts about the speed of this guy. Of course, he’s Italian. For an Italian team this is always something – not better, but for marketing reasons also it’s a good point. I’m so sorry we had to stop the relationship with Scott so early in the season. We understand if he’s unhappy because of this but this is the market.

“We cannot wait to September to choose the rider, otherwise maybe I have to ride and you ride with me! Maybe you are fast, I don’t know. So this is how it works.”

Was the fact Iannone can bring experience and information from two MotoGP race winning bikes another factor in his signing?

“Absolutely,” he said. “We need to have some continuous information. Being, still, in the growing phase, we need information to understand how the bike works – the good points and the bad points. For us it’s very important.”