One of the two final missing pieces of the 2014 MotoGP line up has been filled in. Today, the Paul Bird Motorsport team announced it would be back in MotoGP next season, with a two-rider team and additional help from Aprilia.
The two riders will be Michael Laverty, who rode for Paul Bird’s PBM team in 2013, and Broc Parkes, who has spent most of his career racing in World Supersport and World Superbikes.
Though the press release issued stated that the team will be racing ‘PBM Aprilias’, it is still uncertain exactly what Laverty and Parkes will be riding.
There is a lot of fascinating news coming out of this week’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan: the boom in smaller capacity motorcycles, an upgraded Fireblade, a massive push from MV Agusta, but the show is also making headlines which will affect motorcycle racing as well.
Today at the EICMA, during a presentation on Aprilia’s future plans, Piaggio CEO Roberto Colaninno announced that the Italian manufacturer is aiming to make a return to the MotoGP class as a factory entry in 2016.
With BMW Motorrad pulling the plug on its World Superbike racing effort, and letting the BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK team disband, speculation has been rife as to where riders Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies would land for the 2014 WSBK season. We already know that Chaz will join Davide Giugliano at Ducati Corse next season, but what about Marco?
Well according to the Italian this week, Melandri will fly the Tricolore with Aprilia Racing for 2014 — presumably taking Eugene Laverty’s spot in the factory-run team. Lapping around Jerez on an RSV4 at the end-of-the-season WSBK test, Melandri’s move is perhaps not a shock for anyone following World Superbike, and the announcement already makes him a favorite for the championship next season.
As expected, the Aspar team today announced they would be switching from Aprilia to Honda for the 2014 season in MotoGP. The team has signed a two-year deal with HRC to race the Honda RCV1000R production racer, and will field 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden on one of the bikes.
The reasons behind dropping Aprilia and their highly successful ART machine are simple: after the departure of chief engineer Gigi Dall’Igna, the future of Aprilia’s MotoGP program is in severe doubt. American Honda had lobbied hard to have Hayden back on a Honda, and his signing came with the blessing and support of HRC.
Having a top level rider on the production racer – and one with many years of experience on a factory bike – should help to develop the bike, providing valuable input for HRC. American Honda’s financial contribution in getting Hayden on the bike was also a key factor.
The future of Nicky Hayden appears to have been decided. Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar team, has decided to drop Aprilia in favor of Honda, according to German language website Speedweek.com. Aspar is set to make an announcement later this week on its future, and that decision appears to be that the Spanish team will be running Honda’s production racer RCV1000R for next season.
The decision was made almost inevitable once it was announced that current Aprilia racing boss Gigi Dall’Igna would be leaving the Noale factory to join Ducati. Dall’Igna and Martinez had a strong working relationship dating back to the years in which Aspar ran 125 and 250cc team, and Aspar’s faith in Aprilia’s MotoGP program was based on the strength of that relationship.
For the past month or so, Nicky Hayden has been telling the press that an announcement on his future should come in the next couple of days.
On race weekends, the press asks on Thursday whether there’s any news, and then again on Sunday, and get the same reply: No, not yet, but it shouldn’t be long.
We know who Hayden will be signing with – Hayden has been spotted going in and out of the Aspar team’s truck so often, that you start to suspect he’s already been given a spare key.
And up until recently, we though we knew what he would be riding, a heavily modified version of the Aprilia ART machine, with a new engine with pneumatic valves and a seamless gearbox, and a new chassis to put it in.
But it appears that that bike has been put on hold, as the most important contract negotiations for 2014 are starting to reach a climax.