With Andrea Iannone awaiting his fate following an FIM hearing over his anti-doping case, Bradley Smith is reportedly expected to step up if he is needed to replace the Italian rider.

Last month Iannone was provisionally suspended following a failed anti-doping test after a type of steroid banned under the FIM’s Prohibited List was found in his urine sample taken during the Malaysian MotoGP on November 3.

Iannone reacted “surprised” to the FIM suspension in a social media post with an appeal hearing and B sample test taking place on January 7.

In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Aprilia CEO Massimo Rivola says the team remains “on the side of our rider” with the Noale factory eager to follow official procedures with the FIM before making any decision on the 29-year-old’s future.

Aprilia remain eager for Iannone to take part in the Sepang pre-season test at the start of February alongside both Aleix Espargaro and test rider Smith.

But if the FIM hearing upholds Iannone’s suspension, Aprilia appears set to appoint Smith into the Italian rider’s role for the start of the 2020 MotoGP campaign. Karel Abraham has also been linked as a stand-in following his axing at Avintia Ducati.

While Smith would be the obvious choice if required for Aprilia given his current test role and experience at the team, he is also considered to be the favoured choice by MotoGP organisers Dorna given the lack of British riders currently on the grid with just Cal Crutchlow competing in the premier class, Sam Lowes and Jake Dixon in Moto2 and John McPhee in Moto3.

If Iannone’s suspension is upheld the severity of it could range from a reprimand to a four-year ban.

Iannone’s failed sample from Sepang is believed to have contained drostanolone which is used in bodybuilding. The Italian rider claims if he did unknowingly ingest the drug it could have come from untreated meat he ate during the Asian flyaway races.

The anti-doping case comes as an unwanted distraction for Aprilia as it prepares to debut its new RS-GP with a new 90-degree V4 taking inspiration from Honda and Ducati designs.

The Sepang shakedown test takes place on February 2-4 before the official test at the same venue on February 7-9. Testing continues at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit on February 22-24 before the 2020 opener at the track on March 6-8.



Loading Comments...