Aprilia have confirmed that Maverick Viñales will be joining the Italian factory for the 2022 MotoGP season, with an option to continue for 2023. The Spaniard will join Aleix Espargaro in the Aprilia Racing factory team once Viñales' contract with Yamaha expires at the end of the current year.
The news had been widely expected, after Viñales made a shock announcement just after the Assen round that he would be leaving Yamaha at the end of 2021, halfway through his two-year contract. Rumors linking Viñales to Aprilia emerged during the Assen round, as rumors of the split with Yamaha leaked that weekend.
The deal had been a long time in the making, however. The announcement had been expected in the week ahead of the first race at the Red Bull Ring over a week ago. The news that Yamaha had suspended Viñales for the second Austria round after he had intentionally over-revved his Yamaha M1 during the Styria race cast further doubt on the deal. But that has not proved to be an obstacle.
Aprilia is hoping that Maverick Viñales is the last piece of the puzzle for the Noale factory. Having a proven top rider alongside Aleix Espargaro is what they wanted to help the Aprilia RS-GP make the next step to becoming a podium-worthy motorcycle.
They have had a difficult run with second riders, of their own making, for the most part. Sam Lowes and Scott Redding were given a single year to prove themselves, and never appeared to enjoy the support of the management which Espargaro seemed to have. Andrea Iannone got off to a rocky start with Aprilia, and never made the impact that the factory hoped, only to be suspended for a doping infractoin at the end of his first year.
Whether Maverick Viñales will fare any better is the big unknown. The Spaniard is unquestionably talented, but has not proved easy to work with, going through three crew chiefs in his five season with Yamaha. In the right environment, Viñales can thrive. Aprilia will have to work to create that environment.
The press release appears below:
MAVERICK VIÑALES TO RACE WITH APRILIA IN 2022
ON THE OCCASION OF ITS RETURN TO MOTOGP AS A FACTORY TEAM, APRILIA WELCOMES A GREAT CHAMPION TO JOIN ALEIX ESPARGARÓ: WELCOME MAVERICK!
It is with great pleasure that Aprilia welcomes Maverick Viñales to the Aprilia Racing factory team.
This completes the official team for the 2022 MotoGP season, with Maverick coming alongside Aleix Espargaró astride the RS-GP. The Spanish rider has signed an annual contract with an option for renewal.
The signing of Viñales is another step in the Italian team's growth and development strategy, which comes just in the year of the transition to a factory team. Two events that testify to Aprilia's desire to continue to grow in the top category of world motorcycling.
Born in 1995, Maverick Viñales made his début in World Championship GP Motorcycle Racing in 2011 astride an Aprilia in the 125 category, taking 4 wins and 5 podiums, making him the best rookie of the season and finishing third overall. After another high-level season, he won the Moto3 World Title in 2013 before moving up to Moto2 the next season. Thanks to the potential demonstrated in the intermediate class, he earned a seat in MotoGP from the 2015 season with Suzuki and on Yamaha from 2017.
In the premier class Viñales has taken 9 wins, 13 pole positions and 28 podium finishes, in addition to two overall third places as his best final placement in the rider standings.
MASSIMO RIVOLA - APRILIA RACING CEO
"We are extremely happy to announce that we have signed Maverick Viñales, a very high-level rider and one of the purest talents in the premier category. Our project has now been enriched with the value that Maverick brings - a World Champion who has confirmed his talent as a top rider in MotoGP - at a time of great change, after bringing a completely revamped bike to the track and having consistently established ourselves in the group of protagonists, we are also facing a switch in status as a Factory Team now, in order to take Aprilia to success. We are honoured to be able to make all of our best skills available to Viñales along with our enthusiasm and our passion. I am confident that, like Aleix, he will embrace this extremely high-potential project. The arrival of Maverick in no way distances Lorenzo Savadori from the team, as he will remain an integral part of the Aprilia Racing family."