Aprilia Team Gresini on Thursday showed off the livery for its 2021 RS-GP machine, the Italian manufacturer also announcing Lorenzo Savadori as Aleix Espargaro’s team-mate for the upcoming campaign.
The upgraded RS-GP sports a minimally revised livery for the new season, with the general design remaining markedly similar to the ’20 paint scheme, with a reduction in the amount of green the main change.
The ’21 MotoGP campaign marks the final year of Gresini Racing running Aprilia’s factory programme after seven years, the Noale-based marque taking sole control of its premier class operation from ’22 onwards while Gresini moves back to running as an independent entity, though the machinery it will use is yet to be determined.
It may elect to remain tied to Aprilia as its main satellite team, though a return to long-time bike supplier Honda could also be in the offing.
Espargaro will start his fifth season in Aprilia colours having ended ’20 with a pair of strong runs into the top ten at Valencia and Portimao, the Spaniard keen to capture the manufacturer’s first premier class rostrum since the 2000 British Grand Prix at Donington Park.
“The bike is very good. I’m happy with it and the set-up. I can stop the bike, have good corner speed and the traction is quite OK. But there is no engine at all,” Espargaro said at Misano last September. “It’s the slowest engine in the grid in terms of acceleration.”
Espargaro has scored a best result of sixth in three occasions with the RS-GP over his four years with the team, a best riders championship finish of 14th coming in ’19 after collecting a total of 63 points.
Some 2020 engine performance had been lost due to reliability concerns, but Espargaro – who took a best race finish of eighth – made clear; “even if we use this engine at its maximum level it’s not enough.”
Unsurprisingly, engine modifications are among the main developments for the 2021 RS-GP alongside new aerodyanmics, chassis and carbon-fibre swingarm.
“The new bike is based on the 2020 but with many substantial changes,” confirmed Aprilia technical director Romano Albesiano.
Savadori joins Aprilia full-time after competing in the final three encounters of ’20 in place of fellow test rider Bradley Smith, the Italian getting the nod for the second seat having spent the last few seasons as a tester for the squad himself.
“I’m really happy and want to say thank you to Aprilia for this opportunity. I’ve been training hard and one of my goals for the year is to make the maximum for Fausto,” said Savadori.
The ’21 season will be Gresini’s first campaign without the guidance of team owner Fausto Gresini, who sadly passed away following a long battle with Covid-19 last week, with a short tribute aired to the two-time 125cc world champion prior to the new RS-GP’s unveiling.
“Our desire is to make him proud,” said Aprilia Racing CEO Massimo Rivola.
2021 will be the final year of the Aprilia-Gresini partnership, Gresini Racing seeking a return to satellite status with another MotoGP manufacturer for 2022 when Aprilia is expected to have its own grid entries.