RNF Aprilia will have its full MotoGP roster back at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, as both Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez will attempt to ride after their recent absences.
Oliveira, who has had a brutally injury-laden season so far, suffered a fracture to his left shoulder and ligament damage in a crash during the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.
It meant he sat out Le Mans and, despite the long gap between Le Mans and Mugello, there was serious doubt over whether he’d appear at the latter either. Oliveira rode his Aprilia RS-GP in a public demo during the Aprilia All Stars event on May 27 – but was “very uncomfortable” on the bike, with Aprilia motorsport boss Massimo Rivola describing him as being “still in a very bad physical condition”.
However, Oliveira hadn’t ruled out riding at Mugello at the time – and now says that he “felt an improvement the last few days”.
“Hopefully that can be enough for me to arrive and be competitive. That’s the main target,” he said.
“I know that I need more experience with the bike and I need more races, but at this time it’s a priority to come back strong and at 100%. I will go to Mugello with that in mind and hopefully we can turn it into a good weekend.”
Oliveira has been quick this season during the few races he’s been fit for, whereas the same hasn’t necessarily been true for team-mate Fernandez.
But much of Fernandez’s form was conditioned by severe arm pump, and with what was expected to be a fairly minor surgical procedure into Jerez turning out more substantial he had to sit out the Le Mans races.
However, there was always the expectation he would be ready for Mugello.
“I’m curious to see if the arm will give me any trouble after these first four tricky rounds, where my arm was causing quite many problems,” he said.
Both riders will appear in front of MotoGP’s medical staff on Thursday before the weekend to assess their fitness.
Of the other MotoGP full-timers who had been sidelined for Le Mans (and before), Ducati works rider Enea Bastianini is expected to make his return, having tested a Panigale V4S at Mugello in preparation.
Long-time absentee Pol Espargaro’s rehab is also continuing, but the Tech3 Gas Gas rider has been unable to reach “the initial target” of returning for Mugello, due to “a small edema issue around his vertebrae”, as per the team.
KTM tester Jonas Folger will therefore again stand in for Espargaro.