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Gresini becoming Aprilia MotoGP satellite would be ‘romantic’

Double 125cc world champion and veteran team boss Gresini passed away in February after a battle with COVID-19.

Last week it was announced his wife Nadia Padovani had taken over ownership of Gresini Racing and had become its team principal ahead of its return to independent status in MotoGP from 2022.

Aprilia – who confirmed its commitment to MotoGP through to 2026 last week – will no longer run its factory operation in conjunction with Gresini as it has done since 2015, though both parties could remain allies through a satellite partnership.

Aprilia is yet to decide if it will field two more bikes in 2022, but Espargaro believes it is “very important” for the marque to do so and feels it would be “nice for Fausto’s wife” to continue with an Aprilia “junior team project”.

“It is very important to have a satellite team to help us grow,” Espargaro said.

“We have clear examples with KTM and Ducati, that when the official team is not in front, the satellite team is.

“We saw clearly that in those teams the level rises with four bikes.

“We will see if the bikes end up going to Valentino’s [Rossi] team or if they end up going to the Gresini team, which I think would be very romantic and very nice for Fausto’s wife to continue with the Aprilia junior team project, although it’s a bit early to tell.”

Aleix Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini bike

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Rossi revealed his VR46 team – set to step up to MotoGP in 2022 – has spoken with Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati, with a decision expected in the coming weeks.

As far as Aprilia’s own satellite plans go, Espargaro believes if it does field two more bikes they must be identical to the factory ones in specification to aid development.

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“I have always asked Massimo [Rivola, Aprilia CEO] to do as much as possible to have a satellite team, and as I ask without knowing what is behind or anything,” Espargaro added.

“I also ask that the team has the same bike as me, identical, to make comparisons that bring positive things, or if someone comes, for example Dovi [Andrea Dovizioso] who can help you to develop the bike.

“I think that four identical bikes add a lot and then each rider can do what he can. We’ll see if it can be like that.”

Espargaro is enjoying his best start ever to a season with Aprilia in 2021 on the improved RS-GP, having scored 35 points in seventh in the standings after the first four races.

Registering back-to-back top six finishes in the Portuguese and Spanish Grands Prix, Espargaro is just seven points away from his entire 2020 haul of 42 after only four rounds.

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