Generally speaking, December is a quiet time for the MotoGP paddock, as teams and riders take their holidays and well-earned time off very seriously.
It is a brief reprieve until testing starts again in the new year, but for the Aprilia Racing squad, their MotoGP effort is on high-alert after the news that their rider Andrea Iannone failed a drug test in Sepang earlier this year.
Facing a potential four-year ban, the future of Iannone’s racing career likely resides in the testing of his “B” sample from the Malaysian round, but naturally Aprilia has its own Plan B in the works as well.
As such, news out of Europe says that the Italian racing effort has contacted Karel Abraham about the possibility of taking over testing duties from Iannone in this pre-season.
Depending on how the circumstances play out, Abraham could continue with the Aprilia squad into the 2020 season, or the Italian team could try and find a replacement rider for the championship.
The latter option is made more difficult though by the lateness of the news regarding Iannone’s provisional suspension, and also by the fact that most riders already have contracts for next season. This leaves Aprilia with few good options.
Meanwhile according to Italian media, Iannone’s “A” sample was found to contain drostanolone, an anabolic anabolic–androgenic steroid (AAS) that is typical injected into the muscle. Iannone’s side contends that he was served a contaminated steak in Malaysia.
It is also reported that Iannone’s “B” sample could be tested as early as January 7th. Though, if that sample also fails analysis, it could be a lengthy appeals process for Andrea Iannone, who could try to take the issue all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). It is debatable however how productive such a process would be for the motorcycle racer.
As one can imagine then, the results of the “B” sample test will largely dictate what happens next for Aprilia, and we will know more about that in a couple weeks’ time. Stay tuned…MotoGP bikes are back on the track February 7th, in Sepang.