Is Andrea Dovizioso nearing Aprilia MotoGP comeback?

Andrea Dovizioso will get a second test on the Aprilia RS-GP as speculation mounts he could be back on the MotoGP grid at some stage in 2021 

Andrea Dovizioso - Aprilia RS-GP

While a cloud of speculation continues to surround Valentino Rossi and his future plans after the worst start to a MotoGP season for the esteemed champion, there is another weather front forming over another of Italy’s great racers in Andrea Dovizioso.

The experienced triple runner-up (2017, 2018 and 2019) is conspicuous by his absence on the MotoGP grid this year following a breakdown in relations with Ducati that led to him calling their bluff and leaving rather than put pen to paper on a less lucrative contract.

While Ducati might be thinking ‘joke’s on Andrea’ after its strong start to the season with Pecco Bagnaia currently leading the standings, Dovizioso seems very satisfied with his decision even if we wouldn’t be surprised some itchy feet are starting to set in.

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Last month Dovizioso made the most of his free agent status by throwing his leg over the Aprilia RS-GP for the first time, inevitably ramping up speculation that he could make a return sooner rather than later. 

When asked for feedback about the test, Dovizioso remained tight-lipped on whether he could make his debut in Aprilia colours on a race weekend this year, saying he is aiming for next year (presumably with an option beyond Aprilia).

"Next, we will do another test so we can work on some other details. I think we will organise another one at Mugello in one month more or less. At this moment, all we have on the table is this next test in Mugello. 

“MotoGP is still my passion and I would like to race next year. I think it was smart to be on track and I'm really happy because Aprilia gave me the possibility to do that in the right way."

Will Andrea Dovizioso be back on the MotoGP grid in 2021?

The omens are positive, though it should be noted it isn’t surprising Aprilia has tapped one of MotoGP’s most experienced and technically astute riders for their input when it is now the only manufacturer of six with concessions that allow it to test freely.

However, it won’t have escaped the notice of Aprilia that Lorenzo Savadori is well off the pace of team-mate Aleix Espargaro, who in recent races has looked more threatening for a maiden Aprilia podium than at any other point over the last few years.

Indeed, without discrediting Savadori entirely, he was a back-up option when a catalogue of riders (Dovizioso included) turned down the seat over the winer and at this level looks comfortably out of his depth even if part of his job will be development rather than results.

Moreover, Dovizioso has another test coming up and having been coy on lap times at Jerez - speaking at length about how he didn’t have the right riding position to go for a quick time - he believes at Mugello he will be able to show more representative pace.

"You can immediately feel the difference from what you rode in the past but to understand the details is very difficult. You have to push really hard but you also have to be comfortable on the bike to understand a lot of details."

With Espargaro proving a comfortable top ten performer at the moment and seemingly on the edge of a (belated) breakthrough, the savvy race craft of a rider like Dovizioso might well be the final piece of the puzzle for the Noale manufacturer to establish itself as a MotoGP power.