It’s been a rumour that has rumbled around the MotoGP™ stratosphere ever since Maverick Viñales and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP announced they would be parting ways at the end of 2021. Now, it’s official: Viñales will race for Aprilia in 2022.
The Spaniard joins Aleix Espargaro in the Noale factory ranks and unsurprisingly, the current Aprilia star is over the moon to be partnering back up with Viñales. The duo were together at Suzuki in 2015 and 2016, before Viñales joined Yamaha and Aleix Espargaro signed for Aprilia.
On Friday at the Styrian GP, this is what Aleix Espargaro had to say about the possibility of Viñales joining Aprilia: “I would love to have him on board. The Aprilia project, you can’t imagine how it improved the last two or three years. Now sincerely, I remember when I arrived here coming here from Suzuki, thinking wow, there is a lot of work in front of me.
“Now this factory is unbelievable. They are working very hard, the potential of the bike, is a top bike but it’s still growing. We are on a very top level now. The thing is not how good we are now, but how shiny the future is for us. Having a top rider like Maverick for us would be the next step. I think for him this project suits him very good. I know him well. He will be very happy if he can come here. But apart from him, I think Massimo and Aprilia deserve to sign a strong rider. I know how hard he’s working to sign a strong rider. I wish they can sign Maverick, it would be perfect.”
Espargaro’s wish has come true. It’s a fresh start in 2022 for Viñales after a rollercoaster few years at Yamaha, as the number 12 joins a project that has taken a giant step forward in 2021. The brand-new RS-GP is the most competitive bike Aprilia have rolled out, with Espargaro ninth in the standings, having notched up eight top 10s so far.
With Viñales, Aprilia have a World Champion who – on his day – has shown he can beat anyone. Couple that with Aleix Espargaro’s continued excellence on the still-developing RS-GP, and Aprilia have an almighty rider line-up for 2022.