Aleix Espargaro has launched an uncharacteristic attack on teammate Andrea Iannone, after comments made by the still-suspended Italian rider at Aprilia’s MotoGP team launch this week in Qatar.
Iannone sparked controversy by taking full credit for the vast improvements in Aprilia’s RS-GP machine over the winter break while appearing at the team’s launch while still suspended after failing a drugs test after the 2019 Malaysian Grand Prix.
He told reporters that “the motorcycle was made following my instructions” despite having yet to ride the radically different new bike.
That hasn’t sat well with teammate Espargaro, who launched a blistering attack on his absent teammate following last night’s opening action at the Losail circuit.
“It is super disrespectful. I’ve had many teammates in Aprilia and I’ve never had a problem with any of them; I feel like I’ve always been good friends with all of them including Iannone,” said Espargaro.
“But with what he said, that’s the end of our good relationship because it was very disrespectful to my engineers and my mechanics, for Bradley [Smith], and for me.
“He knows that it’s not true. I’ve been in Aprilia for four years, asking for these changes and pushing the engineers and finally it has arrived.
“He used my settings for all of last season and in 90% of sessions he was behind me, so it’s not fair for him to say this. But we know how he is, and I’ll continue with my style of life and he can continue with his.”
While the next step the timeline of Iannone’s legal battles remains unclear, Aprilia added fuel to the fire on Sunday morning by confirming that Lorenzo Savadori will become part of their test team for 2020.
Joining current test rider Smith at private testing in Sepang, it looks likely that Aprilia is securing his services should the British rider be required to step up to the race team as Iannone’s replacement should his ban be upheld.
Given that Iannone is now facing an automatic four-year ban after failing both A and B tests taken at Sepang, the next stage will be an appeal in front of the FIM believed to be due before the opening race weekend kicks off on March 5th.