While rumors that the WithU RNF Yamaha MotoGP team were considering a switch to Aprilia had been circulating for a while, nobody had expected the news to come out in the manner it did. Aprilia Racing rider Aleix Espargaro tweeted a welcome to RNF before FP1 started, and before Aprilia and RNF had intended to announce the news. Though Espargaro's tweet was deleted shortly afterward, it was too late. RNF and Aprilia rushed out press releases announcing the deal.
On Friday evening, MotoMatters.com contributor Niki Kovács and myself, David Emmett, sat down with Aprilia boss Massimo Rivola to find out more about the deal. What goals Aprilia had in signing RNF, how the link up will work, what bikes RNF will have available, and what the rider strategy will be for RNF.
The deal is what both parties have been looking for these past couple of years. RNF has wanted a closer relationship to the factory supplying bikes, while Aprilia has been in search of a satellite squad for the past couple of seasons. Both sides want to create a "Junior Team", in the mold of Pramac Ducati or Tech3 KTM.