until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Aprilia's next big MotoGP rider market decision

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Aprilia’s been forced into an all-new factory MotoGP rider line-up for 2025, though replacing the retiring Aleix Espargaro and KTM-bound Maverick Vinales with championship leader Jorge Martin and 2023 title contender Marco Bezzecchi feels like an upgrade even if some continuity might’ve been welcome.

Will its satellite team Trackhouse provide that continuity?

Aprilia team principal Massimo Rivola’s given some hints about the way he hopes the American satellite team will turn for next year - and the difference in his stances over its current riders Raul Fernandez and Miguel Oliveira was notable.


Joan Mir

Trackhouse has been left out of much of the silly season rumours and speculation so far.

The only outside names that have been seriously linked to it so far are 2020 world champion Joan Mir and American Moto2 racer Joe Roberts.

Despite strong links between new Trackhouse boss Davide Brivio and Mir after their title win together at Suzuki, rumours in the paddock are now suggesting that Mir will instead remain with the Repsol Honda team for two more years - something that comes as a bit of a surprise given his antipathy towards that option of late.

While Roberts might be a good fit for the US team with which he already had close relations on paper, there’s a sense that he still needs to prove himself for a longer period of time despite his strong start to 2024 in the middleweight class.

While he currently sits second in the championship standings after a strong run of form in the opening rounds, that pace only emerged a hundred races into what has been a rather inconsistent time in Moto2 so far.

And, with Trackhouse owner Justin Marks repeatedly adamant that his team will only promote American talent when someone is ready to fight at the top level and not simply because of nationality, it’s unlikely Roberts has done enough.


Raul Fernandez

That might well spell good news for Trackhouse’s current rider line-up - or, at the very least, for one of them.

Rivola has always been positive about Fernandez, but talking to the media after the Bezzecchi announcement, he stepped up the level of praise.

Fernandez is the only one of the four Aprilia riders on a 2023 bike. Asked by The Race if that made him harder to judge, Rivola answered the question by lauding Fernandez in a way that suggested he’s at a significant bike disadvantage.

“I’m a superfan of Raul,” the former Ferrari Formula 1 boss admitted. “I offered him a contract after the first race of his Moto2 career.

"If his season has been a bit up and down in his first year with KTM and in his first year with us, I think he has shown the speed.

“I can tell you, we have data that shows the speed of Raul more than you guys can see from the races or the lap times. He is ready to catch a podium. Obviously you need a lot of factors like a good start, but the speed is there.”


Miguel Oliveira

However, while he might have been quick to hype one of the satellite team’s current riders, there was a notable difference in tone when Rivola was asked if he was also keen to keep Portuguese racer Miguel Oliveira on the other side of the garage.

Rivola’s rather equivocal answer comes after a difficult debut season on the RS-GP for Oliveira, with multiple injuries sustained thanks to the actions of other riders - but is also amid a rather lacklustre start to 2024 where Fernandez (on his older bike) has often been the Trackhouse headline generator.

“If we continue or not, it will be in his hands and Trackhouse’s, not mine," Rivola explained when asked about the marque's future with Oliveira.

“Personally, I wanted to have Miguel in Aprilia and still I think Miguel in Aprilia can deliver very good performance. 

“Last year he had the unluckiest year of any rider. It was a very difficult year for him.

“This year obviously the expectation was higher considering the performance of the bike with Maverick and Aleix.”

However, with Trackhouse inheriting much of its team from previous Aprilia outfit RNF Racing (which in turn had begun from Petronas Yamaha and, before that team, Marc VDS Honda with the same crew), Rivola also acknowledged that the slew of technical problems over the course of the past 18 months has affected Oliveira’s performance too.

“It’s also true that the team started as the same team of last year,” Rivola added, “and since Davide joined he has started introducing new things, asking for new engineers.

“It is a work in progress and not something that you can do from day to night. 

“You need time to build a stronger team. I hope that they can find a way to continue, because obviously having two new riders in the factory team, it would be good to have the same riders in the satellite team.

“I am sure that Davide with the experience that he has will find what is best for his team.”

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