Aprilia is 'expected' to run its own factory MotoGP team in 2022, meaning the current Gresini partnership would either switch to a satellite agreement or the Italian squad could take 'another path'.

That's according to team principal Fausto Gresini, who told GPOne.com. "The Gresini team's contract with Aprilia will expire at the end of 2021, because it is expected that in 2022, they will be in MotoGP with their own team.

"I could continue with them as a satellite team, as happens with other manufacturers, or I could take another path. We still have to sit down and talk about it."

A double 125cc world champion during his own riding career, Gresini then entered the 500cc world championship with Alex Barros and Honda in 1997.

A switch to the 250cc class soon brought the team's first grand prix victories, with Loris Capirossi in 1999, followed by a first world title with Honda's rising star Daijiro Kato in 2001.

Gresini and Kato moved up to the new MotoGP class together in 2002, but the Japanese tragically lost his life at the start of the following season. Team-mate Sete Gibernau then steered the team through troubled times with eight victories in 2003 and 2004, finishing title runner-up to Valentino Rossi in both seasons.

Marco Melandri repeated Gibernau's feat with second to Rossi in 2005, then took three more wins in 2006, raising Gresini's premier-class victory tally to 13.

Such stats mean they are the most successful satellite team of the four-stroke MotoGP era. The change to 800cc engines in 2007 brought the wins to an end, although further podiums followed with Toni Elias, Alex de Angelis, Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista.

At the end of 2014, Gresini ended its long Honda links to become Aprilia's factory team. However, Gresini is yet to approach its previous level of success, with the RS-GP project taking a best result of sixth place so far.

"I think 2020 will be the year of truth for Aprilia," Gresini told GPOne. "Last year Massimo Rivola arrived, and it was positive, we see that the whole group believes in the project and important investments have been made. Clearly there is no on/off switch... it takes time to get certain results."

Aprilia is the only MotoGP manufacturer that does not currently run its official team completely in-house, using its own grid entry.

"Aprilia is responsible for the bike, I take care of the management, so we're talking about logistics, mechanics, hospitality, we can call it the shell," Gresini explained.

"This allows Aprilia to focus more on the MotoGP project, but we are in any case talking about a company that is in all respects officially present like any other company, nothing is missing."

Dorna's long-term goal is for each of the six manufacturers to have one factory and one satellite entry, but Suzuki and Aprilia are currently without a customer team.

The all-new 2020 RS-GP will debut at Sepang next month, although the Aprilia Gresini rider line-up has been thrown in doubt by Andrea Iannone's current suspension for failing a drug test.

As well as MotoGP, Gresini also competes in Moto2 (winning the world title with Toni Elias in 2010) and Moto3 (world champions with Jorge Martin in 2018).

 

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