Lorenzo Savadori: the not-so-rookie rookie

Despite making his MotoGP™ debut in 2020, the Italian officially qualifies as a rookie for 2021 as he embarks on his first full year

The 2021 MotoGP™ World Championship is getting closer and closer, with the premier class grid now ready to race after six days of testing action in Qatar. One of the key storylines heading to Losail was supposed to be the desert duel between Lorenzo Savadori and Bradley Smith for the final spot in the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini box.

Andrea Iannone's replacement at the Noale factory was not decided on the track, however, with Briton's Bradley Smith reportedly stepping away from Aprilia ahead of the Qatar Test. It was then at the team's official presentation that they officially unveiled its renewed RS-GP and their revised rider line-up of Aleix Espargaro and Lorenzo Savadori.

The Italian's path to the premier category is a little unusual and certainly doesn't mirror the paths of rookie rivals Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini. The 2020 CIV Superbike title and his participation in the final three rounds of the 2020 MotoGP™ World Championship were enough to see Savadori promoted to full-time rider.

The Cesena rider quickly went from a promising figure in Italian motorcycling to a solid value in WorldSBK. Although he started out competing in regional championships and the European mini-bikes, Savadori began to be noticed with his arrival in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in 2007. There he won the first round in Jerez and ended the campaign as runner-up.

In 2008, he made the leap to the CIV and conquered it at the first attempt. That same year, he also won the 125cc European Championship race held in Albacete and participated as a 'wildcard' in the 125cc World Championship in Mugello, Misano and Valencia. His great performances served as a springboard to make the leap to the 125cc World Championship as a permanent rider, a year later, with the help of the Fontana Racing team.

In that 2009 campaign, he finished only 4 of the 13 races contested, with a remarkable ninth place at Mugello. The following year he remained in the category, this time with Matteoni C.P. Racing before competing in the CIV STK Championship and the FIM STK1000 Cup in 2011. He remained in STK1000 in 2012 and achieved his first victory at Monza, finishing 5th overall, a result he repeated in 2013. In 2014 he took a step forward and finished runner-up, before being crowned champion with Aprilia in 2015 thanks to 4 victories and 7 podium finishes.

A year later he landed in the WorldSBK paddock, where he quickly became a regular threat at the front. In 2019, Savadori decided to change direction and embarked on a new project: the Trentino Gresini MotoE. He contested in the inaugral season FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup, with a best finish of seventh at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

2020 saw the Italian given the opportunity to return to the world stage and, more specifically, to the MotoGP™ World Championship, this time as Aprilia's test rider. His good work throughout the year saw the Italian factory hand him his premier class debut in Valencia. He continued to replace Bradley Smith for the final two rounds of the year and was eventually handed the gig full-time for 2021.

Savadori will fulfill the dream of every motorcycle rider in 2021: making his full-time debut in MotoGP™. The Italian will start the year highly motivated, but potentially on the back foot as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury that blighted his test in Qatar. But after battling his way to the pinnacle of motorcycle racing in the most unlikely of circumstances, you'd be daft to rule the number 32 out from challenging for the Rookie of the Year crown as he gets ready to showcase the grit and determination that has helped him to this point.

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