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Aprilia reveals how it snatched jilted Martin from Ducati

by Simon Patterson, Matt Beer
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The speed with which Aprilia trailed ‘big news’ under two hours after the first reports that Marc Marquez had beaten Jorge Martin to the second 2025 works Ducati MotoGP seat immediately hinted that a furious Martin might have stormed straight over to Aprilia to sign a contract as soon as he learned he wasn’t getting what he wanted from Ducati.

And when a delighted Aprilia team principal Massimo Rivola spoke to the MotoGP press in the Mugello paddock an hour later, he pretty much confirmed that was exactly what had happened.

The Race understands the deal was only signed in the paddock 20 minutes before Aprilia announced Martin was joining, with its legal team having worked through the night to pull everything together.

“The strategy was quite clear not to do the first move because we didn’t want to do any gifts to anyone,” said Rivola of how Aprilia had gone about replacing its retiring talisman Aleix Espargaro.

“But when we felt that there was a good opportunity - and it was actually last night!  - we were quite quick in making action rather than talk.

“We found a deal very, very quickly.”

At the time of writing, Ducati has yet to formally announce the now seemingly inevitable Marquez-to-factory move and appears to have been caught out by Aprilia making its own announcement so swiftly.

Asked by The Race why it had been in such a hurry to reveal its Martin deal, Rivola replied: “Announcing at this point, being first to announce, is to show that we can do things quickly and we can decide quickly. It was just ‘let’s fix it, it’s done and let’s focus on the next step’.”

Beyond an admission that Aprilia had made its own tentative bid to lure Marquez, the six-time champion wasn’t mentioned at all in Rivola’s explanation of how his team suddenly ended up signing the current world championship leader. What had convinced Ducati that it wanted Marquez - not Martin - as Pecco Bagnaia’s 2025 team-mate after all wasn’t Aprilia’s problem.

All Rivola needed to know was that Martin had come to his doorstep and he’d made the most of it, quickly calling Dr Michele Colaninno - CEO of Aprilia's parent company the Piaggio Group - to get the nod for the investment required to make the biggest signing of the firm’s MotoGP programme so far.

“Last night I called my boss and I said ‘we have a chance’ and he said ‘get it, go for it’. And I did,” said Rivola, adding that Colannino “is quite keen to find hungry and motivated riders”.

Motivated, in this case, by absolute fury too most likely. Rivola didn’t shy away from that element, though he also pointed out that Aprilia was the only manufacturer other than Ducati winning any races this year. It wasn’t like Martin had over-emotionally consigned himself to the back of the grid.

“I don’t know if it’s based on emotion but I like to think the choice of Jorge is done because Aprilia did consistent growth during the years,” said Rivola.

Espargaro - a close friend of Martin and part of the same management stable under Albert Valera - got plenty of thanks for his help in luring Martin to Aprilia, reprising the role he’d played in getting Maverick Vinales to the team back in 2021.

As for Vinales, Rivola was clear that Aprilia’s starting point is that he’ll stay on to partner Martin - though the ball is in Vinales’ court there right now.

And Rivola also admitted that in the hurry to pull everything together around Martin, the team forgot to tell Vinales the news was coming - something Rivola accepted full responsibility for.

“My mistake was to not tell him that this was going to happen, but the priority was to close it,” he said.

A move for Bagnaia’s current team-mate Enea Bastianini (though he’s also a target for KTM and Tech3) looks likely if Aprilia has to replace Vinales too. Rivola said he’s long admired Bastianini and implied he would’ve been a serious target for 2025 until Martin suddenly became available.

“Enea is one of the riders that I’ve been trying to bring here for a long time, but it’s difficult to predict now,” said Rivola.

Pursuing Bastianini might have to wait for another year. Whether it’s Vinales, Bastianini or someone else altogether on the other Aprilia is a matter for tomorrow. Today’s been all about making very, very sure the potential 2024 MotoGP world champion is riding an Aprilia in 2025 and worrying about the repercussions later.

“I think every one of you in my shoes would have done the same,” said Rivola to the hurriedly summoned media scrum getting his take on Aprilia’s biggest MotoGP move so far.

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