Marco Melandri Out of Aprilia MotoGP, Mike Laverty Takes Over
Following weeks of miserable results aboard the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini RS-GP, Marco Melandri has called it quits.
This is not shocking news; the 32-year-old Italian did not hide his frustration with the RS-GP - usually discussing the bike’s lack of feel. Melandri qualified last in all races but the Argentinian round at Termas de Rio Hondo, and never finished better than 18th. He never scored a single point. The other Aprilia RS-GP pilot, Alvaro Bautista had better luck, earning a best of 10th at Catalunya.
The fleeing rumors began earlier in the season, and its no secret that Melandri has some deal in the works with Yamaha for 2016 World Superbike. But nothing was confirmed until Wednesday, when Aprilia announced the following:
“Aprilia Racing and Marco Melandri have reached an agreement by mutual consent to terminate the contractual obligations between Marco Melandri and Aprilia Racing.
“Consequently, Marco Melandri will no longer be lined up on the grid with Aprilia Racing starting from the German Grand Prix on 12 July.
“Aprilia Racing wishes Marco Melandri all the best in his future endeavors.”
Replacing Melandri on the RS-GP is seven-time British Superbike winner Michael Laverty, who raced for the Paul Bird Motorsports in 2013 and 2014 MotoGP. Laverty - an official Aprilia test rider - also currently competes in World Superbike aboard the TYCO BMW S1000RR. He will began racing this weekend at Sachsenring in Germany for round nine of the 2015 MotoGP Championship.
"I'm excited to be back on the MotoGP grid this weekend of the German GP. Competing against the regular guys racing MotoGP is a tough task, but I am relishing the opportunity. I have been riding with the Aprilia test team so I am comfortable with the Aprilia RS-GP machine and the Bridgestone tires," Laverty says.
"Firstly I must adapt the race bikes to suit me and then look to keep progressing throughout the weekend. Álvaro has been riding strongly in this first half of the season and I have witnessed some great development work through the test team. I now look forward to being a part of the racing team."
As for Melandri, he was no stranger to Aprilia and MotoGP. Before 2015 MotoGP, he spent four-consecutive years in World Superbike, competing for Aprilia Racing in 2014 SBK. Before that, he spent 13 years in Grand Prix racing, including three with Aprilia in the former 250cc class.
In 2014 World SBK, Melandri’s teammate Sylvain Guintoli earned the title for Aprilia – a third for the Noale-based manufacturer. Though he didn’t earn the title, Melandri was strong aboard the RSV4, earning 11 podiums – including six wins. This helped Aprilia also earn the WSBK Manufacturer’s Title in 2014 SBK.