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.
Was that the idea for RNF, we asked Rivola? "The answer is yes," the Aprilia Racing CEO said, before adding that being a junior team meant more than just preparing young riders. "The idea is to have a junior team, developing junior riders, and maybe importing also some junior engineers or technicians."
Suzuki's withdrawal had complicated the situation, however. The sudden presence of Joan Mir and Alex Rins on the market, together with an influx of engineers, technicians, and mechanics, meant that options had expanded for everyone. The availability of Mir and Rins meant that not only were they available, but that other teams and factories were looking at their current riders and wondering whether to replace them. Names which looked to be nailed down for 2023 are now also a possibility.
This had widened Aprilia's perspective as well, Rivola told us. "At the same time, we are not blind, and so if we face an exceptional year where the market is maybe in a condition where young and experienced riders in MotoGP could be available, we have to evaluate, because maybe one of the two could be like that."
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