Viñales to return in expanded Aprilia MotoGP line-up

Maverick Viñales. Picture: MotoGP.com

Maverick Viñales will make his return to racing this weekend at the Emilia Romagna MotoGP round, when there will be three Aprilias on the grid.

Viñales sat out the Grand Prix of the Americas at the start of the month after the death of his cousin in a crash just a week prior, but is a confirmed started for Round 16 of the season.

The Spaniard made a dramatic mid-year switch from Yamaha, with Lorenzo Savadori bumped to testing duties.

Savadori is still not fully fit after breaking his ankle bone when he was caught up in an incident with Dani Pedrosa at the Red Bull Ring in August, but will compete as a wildcard for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini at this weekend’s second Misano event.

Along with Aleix Espargaro, it makes for three RS-GPs on the grid when MotoGP races on Italy’s Adriatic coast for the second time in as many months.

For Viñales, it will be his third outing at Misano for the squad, having first ridden an Aprilia MotoGP bike in a two-day test there on August 31-September 1.

“Coming back to race in Misano again is special for me,” he said.

“This is where I tested the RS-GP for the first time and began my relationship with Aprilia.

“The temperatures will be lower than they were in the first round on this track – a factor that I want to take advantage of because it lets me use a softer compound at the front.

“I can’t wait to get back in the saddle to continue our growth. We have great potential and a lot of things to try in order to build our performance lap after lap.”

Savadori remarked, “I really want to get back on the bike and race.

“I still can’t say that I’m at 100 percent physical fitness, but the situation has improved greatly. I’m sure the home fans will give me even more motivation.

“We have a lot of work to do on a track that we know well and that we’ll be tackling in conditions that are different than the ones we are usually accustomed to.”

The Ducati Lenovo Team will also be a trio this weekend, with test rider Michele Pirro joining Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia.

The latter is the only rider who stands in the way of Fabio Quartararo and the MotoGP riders’ championship title, although he would have to beat the Frenchman at Misano to keep that contest alive heading into the final two rounds of the campaign.

Practice for the third-last round of 2021 commences tomorrow evening (AEST).

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