Triple MotoGP title runner-up Andrea Dovizioso is to test for Aprilia at Jerez on April 12-14.

At present it is only a one-off appearance, using the latest 2021 RS-GP, but Aprilia will naturally hope it leads to some kind of formal agreement.

“I was pleased by Aprilia’s interest and when we spoke about the possibility of doing this test, I gladly accepted the invitation to be able to ride a MotoGP bike again and to stay in form, giving the engineers my feedback," Dovizioso said. "I wish to thank Aprilia Racing for this opportunity.”

“It was a pleasure to invite Andrea. The days in Jerez will simply be a chance to get to know one another better, also on the track," insisted Aprilia Racing boss Massimo Rivola.

"It will not be a ‘trial matrimony’ but an opportunity to turn some laps together without any binding commitment for the future.

"We are well aware of all Andrea’s qualities and his contribution will be important, even for just one test.”

After Dovizioso called-off contract talks with Ducati in mid-August, Aprilia tried hard to sign the 15-time MotoGP race winner for 2021.

But the Italian wasn't convinced and instead opted to take a sabbatical, albeit hoping to return to MotoGP action if offered competitive machinery in 2022.

With Moto2 riders Fabio di Giannantonio, Marco Bezzecchi and Joe Roberts also turning down the Aprilia seat, Lorenzo Savadori has been chosen over fellow test rider Bradley Smith to race alongside team leader Aleix Espargaro.

But the impressive form of the latest RS-GP at the recent Qatar tests, perhaps combined with no opening at Honda to replace Marc Marquez, appears to have prompted a change of heart for Dovizioso.

Espargaro, who said last season it would be a 'dream' to have Dovizioso as his team-mate, made an instant impact by being fastest for Aprilia at the start of Official testing.

The Spaniard then remained competitive - both in terms of a flying lap and race pace - over the four days at Losail, eventually claiming sixth overall, within half-a-second of Ducati's Jack Miller.

Aprilia is now the only manufacturer on the grid without a race win or podium for its current machine. As a concession manufacturer, its test rider can make up to six wild-card race appearances.

The news of Dovizioso's test casts even more doubt on the future of Smith with Aprilia. The #38 felt he deserved the race seat over Savadori on the basis of their respective performances last season in place of Andrea Iannone, but Aprilia had expressed hope that the Englishman would accept continuing in the testing role.

Dovizioso's Aprilia MotoGP debut is to take place alongside an official MotoE test at Jerez, in-between the Qatar and Portimao rounds of the world championship.

The #4's only grand prix appearance on an Aprilia to date was his 125cc debut, as a wild-card, at Mugello in 2001. Dovi then spent his entire full-time 125 and 250GP career with Honda, including winning the 2004 125cc title, plus his opening four-seasons in MotoGP (one win). 

Dropped by Repsol Honda, Dovizioso enjoyed a strong season with Tech3 Yamaha in 2012, then joined Ducati in 2013 as it began rebuilding its MotoGP project after failing to win a race with Valentino Rossi.

While it was Iannone who took Ducati's first win since Casey Stoner at Austria 2016, Dovizioso added his first Desmosedici victory later that season and went on to become Marc Marquez and Honda's main rival from 2017-2019.

Dovizioso took his 15th and final Ducati victory at the Red Bull Ring last season, on the way to fourth in the world championship.