Marco Melandri replaced by Michael Laverty at Aprilia MotoGP
Aprilia Racing and Marco Melandri have reached an agreement by mutual consent to terminate the contractual obligations between Marco Melandri and Aprilia Racing.
At Sachsenring this weekend Michael Laverty will be making his debut on the #70 Aprilia RS-GP machine, replacing Melandri in the Factory Aprilia MotoGP squad, alongside regular incumbent Alvaro Bautista.
It must be said that Melandri’s lack of results on the Aprilia MotoGP machine, combined with his quite obvious lack of enthusiasm for the project. The Italian had wanted to stay in WorldSBK with Aprilia for season 2015, but the Noale based manufacturer had other ideas, instead, putting the hugely experienced Melandri into their new MotoGP project.
Despite Laverty’s testing role with Aprilia, it is still quite surprising to see him catapulted into the MotoGP spotlight when is currently a contracted BMW rider. The 34-year-old currently rides for Tyco BMW in British Superbike, where he scored fourth and sixth places last weekend at Knockhill. It, of course, helps that BMW is currently not a player in the MotoGP field, and Laverty has stated publicly that he is also still 100 per cent comitted to his Tyco BMW BSB squad.
Luckily, there is only one date clash between the two series, the final BSB Showdown round takes place the same weekend as the Australian MotoGP round at Phillip Island. Laverty is currently seventh in the BSB Championship Points Standings, and is extremely unlikely to be challenging for the #1 plate come the season decider but strong form for the remainder of the season could possibly see him perhaps as high as third in the high profile series, especially considering the extra points on offer at the showdown rounds.
Michael Laverty – “I’m excited to be back on the MotoGP grid this weekend of the German GP. Competing against the regular guys racing MotoGP is a tough task, but I am relishing the opportunity. I have been riding with the Aprilia test team so I am comfortable with the Aprilia RS-GP machine and the Bridgestone tyres. Firstly I must adapt the race bikes to suit me and then look to keep progressing throughout the weekend. Álvaro has been riding strongly in this first half of the season and I have witnessed some great development work through the test team. I now look forward to being a part of the racing team.”
Romano Albesiano (Aprilia Racing Manager) – “In the first half of the season we dove into an extremely competitive situation. A fascinating and difficult challenge, exactly as we expected it would be. Every race, every practice session, has increased our experience in MotoGP. We also had some satisfactions and showed progress that we are anxious to strengthen now as we move forward with building the 2016 RS-GP prototype. A warm welcome to Laverty: with Michael working alongside Bautista we will continue development efforts on our bike directly in the races. Michael has worked a lot in recent months. With his indications after his first race we’ll be able to streamline development, especially in terms of the chassis, where right now we are the most limited.”
The Aprilia bike’s return season to the pinnacle motorcycle racing championship – one year ahead of the initial schedule – has thus far been characterised by hard work developing the RS-GP machines. A difficult path that has alternated between complicated moments and more comforting results, especially with Alvaro Bautista who, as early as the second race, skilfully battled consistently for positions worth championship points. In this first part the tenth place at Barcelona encouraged the entire Aprilia Racing Team Gresini to keep doing better. But the road to approaching the best riders is still long and the German round is here as yet another chance to develop the Italian V4.
Fausto Gresini – (Team Manager) – “Sachsenring marks the turning point in a year characterised by a lot of development work. There has been no lack of difficulties, as we expected, but we have also had some satisfactions and above all we have been able to collect a great amount of useful information for the future. For us every race is a valuable opportunity to gain experience and useful data to define the new bike for the 2016 season and the Sachsenring will be no exception. Also, starting from this Sunday Michael Laverty will be riding alongside Alvaro, and he already knows the RS-GP quite well since he has been following the testing. This is further valuable help in our future-oriented development schedule.”
Alvaro Bautista – “At the Sachsenring, first and foremost we will be trying to figure out the chattering problem that slowed us down at Assen in order to find a solution. We will take on another weekend of tests, both in technical terms, gathering important data for development of the bike and definition of the new 2016 prototype, and this time in terms of my physical condition. In fact, just after the Dutch GP I underwent surgery on my right forearm for compartment syndrome. I decided to move the operation up as soon as possible because in recent races it had been bothering me a bit. Now I’ll have to see if I’m able to ride more comfortably. After this Grand Prix we’ll have our summer break, so it would be nice to bring home a good result, but especially to have a good feeling astride the bike.”
NB: Michael Laverty’s younger brother, Eugene, currently rides a Team Aspar Honda in the MotoGP series alongside Nicky Hayden.