Max Biaggi may have been a surprise name on the shortlist for Aprilia at the Sepang test but the Italian has appeared to dismiss the idea even if he is “always there for Aprilia”.

The Noale factory confirmed to Crash.net that Biaggi is one of three riders that are options for the Sepang test with Andrea Iannone currently suspended by the FIM for failing an anti-doping test at the same venue last November.

Aprilia is looking for a replacement to step-in alongside Aleix Espargaro and test rider Bradley Smith for the debut of the new RS-GP, with Biaggi, ex-Avintia Ducati rider Karel Abraham and former factory Aprilia World Superbike rider Lorenzo Savadori made candidates for the role.

The 48-year-old, who earlier this month was on testing duty for Aprilia with its RSV4 X superbike at Sepang, has played down the MotoGP test rumours but did confirm he is available if required.

“As far as I know, I won’t be back on the bike in the MotoGP tests,” Biaggi told Giovanni Di Pillo in an interview at Motor Bike Expo in Verona. “But I really like it when my presence is required, when Aprilia calls me.

“Even if it’s just for fun, I am always there for Aprilia. For me, riding a motorbike remains the best thing in the world, as it is for all fans.”

Fausto Gresini, team boss for the factory-backed Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, also dismissed picking Biaggi for the MotoGP test if Iannone is forced out of action.

“It would be really nice to see Max on the Aprilia but it would be a very demanding task for him,” Gresini said. “His speed and his expertise are beyond dispute, but it’s one thing to ride on the track to have fun, as he is doing, another is to face such an important test on a new bike.”

Savadori remains favourite to take up the stand-in role with it looking very unlikely Iannone will be unable to take part in the pre-season tests following his B sample also containing an Exogenous Anabolic Steroid, thought to be drostanolone, which the Italian claimed he unwittingly ingested from eating contaminated meat.

Smith continues to be tipped to take Iannone’s place in the race team if the Italian picks up a ban, while rumours are pointing towards the FIM making an official decision on his case early next week. If Smith is to effectively replace Iannone, Aprilia would still require a new test rider to take on Smith’s workload.

Biaggi will be made a MotoGP legend during the 2020 season having won four 250cc world titles between 1994 and 1997 while he also finished 500cc/MotoGP world championship runner-up on three occasions (1998, 2001 and 2002).

The Rome rider will also remain a prominent figure in the MotoGP paddock through his work with Aprilia and running his own Moto3 team Sterilgarda Max Racing with Romano Fenati and Alonso Lopez as his 2020 riders.

Aprilia is expected to make a final decision on its rider line-up after Iannone’s doping investigation is completed by the FIM.

 

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