It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team.
Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory’s team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development.
The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team’s places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia’s funding will now keep them in the premier class.
No riders have been announced, but it is widely anticipated that Marco Melandri wil return from World Superbikes to race the Aprilia, where he will partner with current Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista.
Gresini may also be looking to retain Scott Redding, but Redding is keen to ride the Honda RC213V stipulated in his contract.
With the 2015 Aprilia being an uprated version of the ART machine currently being ridden by Danilo Petrucci, that bike is unlikely to be competitive. For 2016, Aprilia will be bringing an all-new machine, only loosely based on the current ART.
The Aprilia deal leaves the path free for Marc VDS Racing to take the satellite Honda given up by Gresini. However, as of this moment, the team have not announced their intentions.
The team will be watched closely, as a return by Scott Redding to the Marc VDS team would be an ideal partnership. The team is expected to make its intentions known very soon, as both team boss Michael Bartholemy and team owner Marc van der Straten will be in attendance this weekend.
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.