Andrea Iannone reacts to Aleix Espargaro's 'lack of respect' criticism

Andrea Iannone corrects himself to say the step forward with the 2020 Aprilia RS-GP is a team effort after Aleix Espargaro accused him of 'lacking respect'

Aleix Espargaro, Andrea Iannone - Aprilia

Andrea Iannone insists he and Aleix Espargaro do ‘actually like each other’ after his Aprilia team-mate launched into a scathing attack when he took credit for the development of the new RS-GP MotoGP machine.

A rift between the riders emerged ahead of the 2020 MotoGP opening round when Iannone appeared to claim the latest generation model – which has been competitive in testing - had been developed based on his input during the 2019 season.

The words clearly irked Espargaro, who snapped back that Iannone hadn’t contributed much to the project and that it was himself and test rider Bradley Smith that had done much of the hard work behind the scenes.

“He [Andrea] likes to be the centre of attention,” the Spaniard said at the time. “But I think it was not only a lack of respect for me, but also for my whole team, all my engineers because I have been working with Aprilia for four years to request these changes.”

The spat comes at a time when Iannone is still waiting to discover whether he’ll be cleared to compete after testing positive for a banned steroid during routine drugs testing last year. After both samples were found to be positive, Iannone took his case to appeal and is now awaiting a decision on whether he’ll be formally banned or free to race.

Appearing on the latest podcast from Aprilia WorldSBK champion Max Biaggi, Iannone emphasised the developments made over the past year are a team effort, which he says includes Espargaro so ‘he isn’t offended’

“Let's see, it's tough. I'm still happy that they did such an important job in Noale, and above all that they believed me from the start. The whole Aprilia team did a great job, so of course I also take Aleix Espargaró in so that he doesn't have to be offended ... We actually like each other and always got along well.”

Iannone also took time to praise the impact of Massimo Rivola, a former Ferrari sports director, who came on board to take on the running of the Aprilia team, thus freeing up Romano Albesiano to focus on bike development.

"I think he was an absolute stroke of luck. Of course I wasn't there before Massimo, but he always did very well last year. For me personally, it far exceeded expectations. Massimo is a very important person for me, he never left me alone, that also applies to Aprilia as a whole. I believe that many things would have been different without Massimo.”