Aprilia will not retain the services of Sam Lowes for 2018, having instead opted to hire fellow Englishman Scott Redding for next year’s campaign, Crash.net has learned.
On the same day Jack Miller’s move to Pramac Ducati was announced, it appears Aprilia has decided to forge ahead with 24-year old Redding, the man the Australian is replacing.
The move will see former Moto2 runner up Redding reunited with team boss Fausto Gresini, having raced for the Italian aboard an ‘Open’ Honda during his debut premier class campaign in 2014. Redding then switched to Marc VDS Honda (and later Pramac Ducati) while Gresini joined forces with Aprilia. In 2018 Redding will compete alongside Aleix Espargaro, who has posted some eye-catching performances during his first season aboard the ever-improving RS-GP.
Redding’s move leaves Lowes searching for an alternative for 2018, a season that was meant to be his second in MotoGP contracted to the Noale factory. His premier class options are fairly limited having expected until today to serve the second year of his contract.
It was just last Friday that Aprilia racing principal Romano Albesiano had suggested Lowes had two races to prove to Aprilia that they should stick by their man. "Sam has shown some good signs of improvement,” said Albesiano at a press conference held for factory bosses at Brno. “I'm really hoping he will show us more in these next two races to finally be able to confirm him.”
However, less than a week later, in the wake of Miller’s move to Pramac, it is understood Aprilia has decided to trade one Englishman for another, at a time when Lowes has scored two point-scoring finishes in the first ten races of his debut MotoGP season.
It was as early as the Grand Prix of Catalunya in June that factory chief Albesiano revealed talks had been held with other riders about the possibility of taking on Lowes’ seat for 2018.
At that moment, Lowes had struggled to adapt to the 260bhp prototype machine, but was not aided by a back injury suffered at a preseason test at Valencia last November, or a machine that was not at the same spec as the more experienced Espargaro’s.
There were glimmers of light at Assen and the Sachsenring however, where Lowes showed signs of improvement. In the Netherlands he brilliantly qualified for Q2 on the Saturday, while the gap to the class’ leading names in Germany was less than what it was before.
After meeting with factory bosses over the summer break, Lowes returned to Brno buoyant, as his first bike would be more or less identical to his team-mate’s. It now appears his showing over the weekend, at the end of which he scored 18th place in Sunday’s race, was not enough to convince Aprilia to retain his services.
The news comes as a lifeline for Redding, who once again stated his desire to stay in the MotoGP class on Thursday afternoon. “ I want to stay here in the paddock,” he said. “I do believe I have the potential to show what I've got. I just need to find the right solution for me at the moment and it's not easy and there are not really many options. In fact not 'options,' it's more 'one option’.”
On Thursday evening the elder Espargaro brother sent out a tweet showing his support for his current team-mate, presumably having learnt of Aprilia’s final decision.
Additional reporting by Steve English.
Source : http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/872205/1/lowes-out-redding-in-at-aprilia