The 2021 MotoGP season has been full of all the highs, lows, and general dramatic tension you’d expect, both on-track and off. The Maverick Viñales storyline alone has involved the following: Accusations from Yamaha that Viñales intentionally tried to blow his engine, formally signing a contract with Aprilia for 2022, and Viñales and Yamaha completely calling it quits on August 20, in the middle of the season.
It’s now August 23, which means there have now been three whole days for rumors to foment in the extremely rumor-happy MotoGP universe. Previously in the Aprilia MotoGP garage, you may recall that Andrea Dovizioso had three well-publicized and seemingly very successful testing weekends with the team in 2021. Dovi decided to take the 2021 season off, with high probability of returning to the grid in 2022.
That may still happen, but multiple sources indicate that the Aprilia MotoGP team is incredibly keen to get Viñales out on one of their bikes as soon as possible. Getting to grips with that V4 will be a huge change from what he’s used to, and finding out how personalities mesh between their newest signed racer and the rest of the team is also just a big question mark right now.
The Italian motorsport press is reporting that the Aprilia MotoGP team’s next test weekend at Misano, scheduled to take place on August 31 and September 1, will now involve Maverick Viñales. Previously, it was to have been Dovizioso’s fourth test weekend with the team. If it goes well, further speculation is that Viñales could contest the remaining 2021 MotoGP season for Aprilia.
Gaining as much knowledge and data as possible is in any MotoGP team’s best interest. That’s why racers often attempt to at least complete a given race, even if it seems like they're not very competitive at the moment. What will all of this mean for Dovizioso’s hopes for 2022? That’s one of the next chapters in this story that remains to be seen.