Aleix Espargaró has signed for the Forward Racing team for the 2014 season, along with MotoGP veteran Colin Edwards re-signing to the Italian squad. With Espargaró vacated the most coveted non-MSMA machine, WSBK front runner Eugene Laverty has been linked with the ride.
The Spaniard has impressed no end aboard the Aspar ART machine, and is not only constantly top CRT, but also regularly dices with full prototype Ducati’s and his efforts have now been rewarded.
The Spaniard had been told if he wanted to leave his Aspar ride he would have to pay his contract out, somewhere in the figure of €600,000, however Espargaró and his manager Alberto Valero managed to negotiate a deal where he can be released for a figure around €400,000. Valero is also close friends with Forward Racing team owner John Cuzari, which will have only helped any potential deal.
The Forward Racing team became a desirable package when last month they announced they had agreed terms with Yamaha to be one of the non-MSMA teams to lease the package from Yamaha, which included the chassis and suspension.
Despite not having the seamless shift, and being a ‘lower spec’ M1, the non MSMA teams will be granted 24 litres opposed to 20 litres which the factory machines get. The fuel tank, and fairing will still be built by British company FTR.
The re-signing of Colin Edwards also must’ve had something to do with the Yamaha link. Edwards spent seven seasons aboard the M1 and two in the factory team Valentino Rossi. Edwards experience with the set up, and development of the Yamaha, along with his two seasons in the Forward team makes him the perfect fit despite turning 40 before next season starts.
With Aspar potentially loosing two riders next season, with Randy de Puniet’s contract not yet renewed, lots of people have been linked with the Aprilia, and the latest is Aprilia SBK rider Eugene Laverty.
With rumours that Hayden has signed, Laverty could partner the Kentucky Kid in the Spanish team, with Aprilia upping their efforts in the Grand Prix paddock. Laverty isn’t a stranger to the GP paddock, after spending the three seasons in 125 and 250cc in late 2000’s, and if indeed this move does happen it would make two sets of brothers in MotoGP.
As ever when one ride becomes free, names get linked, and with Laverty potentially jumping across the GP gap, the seemingly cursed Marco Melandri has been linked with the possibly vacant RSV4 ride, with his BMW squad pulling the plug on their WSBK efforts.