Timing is everything in MotoGP, and quite possibly no one feels that more keenly than Maverick Viñales. After an extremely dramatic first portion of the 2021 MotoGP season, he found himself signing with the Aprilia MotoGP team for 2022, and testing at Misano in late August.
Now, Viñales will complete the 2021 MotoGP season as an Aprilia MotoGP rider thanks to a series of events that all fell neatly into place. First, there was the deteriorating situation between Yamaha and Viñales, which presumably had been building behind the scenes for some time before it finally exploded in public. That eventually culminated in Yamaha accusing Viñales of purposely trying to blow his engine at the Styrian GP.
Meanwhile, over at Aprilia, Lorenzo Savadori suffered a fractured right malleolus (that’s an ankle bone), and ended up requiring surgery. That also happened during the Styrian GP weekend. Not long afterward, Aprilia announced Viñales’ signing for 2022. Looking back, we can see the wheels clearly must have been in motion for some time.
Of course, had Viñales’ testing round with Aprilia at Misano not gone so well, it’s unclear what would have happened. For the record, Aprilia says that Savadori will compete as a wild card in all the remaining 2021 season races where that’s possible. There are currently six more races on the calendar, including Aragon. Additionally, Savadori will be Aprilia’s test rider for the 2022 season.
Now that Aleix Espargaró just brought Aprilia its first-ever MotoGP podium at Silverstone, the pressure will be ratcheting up. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the season holds for all three Aprilia riders.
"The decision to have Maverick on the track from Aragón is a direct result of the tests done in Misano. It was not a given that, after a career spent up to now on a bike with an in-line engine, Maverick would have a good feeling with our V4 straight away,” Aprilia Racing Technical Director Roman Albesiano said in a statement.
“This is why the test on this track, historically not an easy one for our bike, was an important moment of assessment. Therefore, we are satisfied with Maverick’s immediately positive reactions, which demonstrated a good feeling both with the RS-GP and with the team and our work method. His and Aleix’s talent, combined with the experience Lorenzo has gained this season, make us optimistic about the future of our MotoGP project,” he concluded.