Aleix Espargaro has reiterated his desire to have Andrea Dovizioso come on board to the Aprilia Racing team for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship, even if he expects the team will follow through on earlier claims it will wait for the outcome of Andrea Iannone’s doping appeal.

With Ducati and Petronas SRT Yamaha’s seats for 2021 all but sealed, it leaves the only remaining question mark hanging over the second Aprilia alongside Espargaro. 

Aprilia has repeatedly said it is standing by its current suspended rider Iannone, saying he has first refusal on the second RS-GP if he is cleared from his 18 month drugs suspension. However, the situation has been complicated by CAS’ move to push the hearing back from August to October.

In the meantime, Dovizioso’s services have become available due to his split from Ducati, prompting many to speculate the two Italian parties would be ideal for one other as a team that could benefit hugely from his experience, while the rider gets a fresh project he can influence.

However, Aprilia’s insistence on waiting for Iannone - who could yet see his ban extended if he loses his case - could see it miss out entirely on both riders by waiting.

One person to plead the case for Dovizioso is Espargaro, who believes the 15-time race winner would be a huge asset.

“The situation at Aprilia is not easy,” he said. “I have said many times I would like to have Dovi as a team-mate because I think I can learn a lot from him and Aprilia could understand many things and improve the bike. 

“It’d be a great team but Aprilia is waiting for Iannone - this October will be crucial. I try to be focused on myself, which is not easy because I have to do a lot of jobs myself, a lot of tests, we never stop testing.

“Let’s see next season what happens, the Aprilia project will grow a lot in 2021 and we will see who will be riding at my side.”

Having admitted to ‘crying’ when he realised how much better his 2020 Aprilia RS-GP is compared with its 2019 predecessor, Espargaro’s results haven’t quite matched his optimism with a best result of tenth from the opening six races.

However, the Spaniard insists the team is much closer to the front than results suggest and given Aprilia is now the only manufacturer able to tweak its package for 2021, says it only needs an ‘evolution’ to be a competitor.

“The first thing I have said is to not repeat the mistake of two years ago when I arrived at pre-season testing and I didn’t understand or know the bike they brought, they completely changed it. 

“The 2020 RS-GP is the best bike I have ever ridden, we are still lacking some acceleration and torque in the bottom of the engine but the balance of the bike is very good.

“I know we are not doing great results, but we are closer than ever to the top guys, so I think the most important thing is to maintain the good things of the bike, don’t try a revolution but do an evolution of what we have. 

“We know we have to improve, clearly the engine performance, especially the torque to create acceleration but the base we have is good. We are the only ones who can improve the bike for next season, so I am more motivated than ever. 

“I am enjoying riding the bike, I didn’t last season, so I think 2021 can be a very good year for us.”
 

 

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