Massimo Rivola spoke about this matter for the first time in an interview to Gazzeta dello Sport. The next MotoGP tests are less than a month away in Sepang and Aprilia is still waiting to see if Iannone will be banned for a longer period. “We are on the side of our rider, but for Aprilia, respect for the rules is sacred. There will be no trial a priori, before waiting for the sentence. For us, legality is a bulwark, we support Iannone because we have never doubted him. If he made a mistake, he will have to pay for it, but we avoid the conclusions linked to the rider's media exposure,” said Rivola.
“We hope to have the sentence by the end of January, so we will see. One prognosis is a possible suspension of three months, another six… ,“ he concluded. Rivola plans to move forward without Iannone if the suspension by FIM proves to be longer and the empty MotoGP seat is expected to be taken by Aprilia’s test rider Bradley Smith. The Aprilia CEO also made a statement that other riders could have replaced Iannone. Between the options, we can find the likes of WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea or the retired Jorge Lorenzo.
“In the event of a suspension, Smith's would be the most obvious choice. At this point, there are not many riders available. Six months ago, [Jonathan] Rea could have been an option. Jorge Lorenzo would have been a good story but I think he will be a tester at Yamaha,” submitted Rivola.
“We will decide as soon as we have the sentence. Losing Iannone would be a serious thing because it helped us to understand what was wrong and to have a fast motorcycle,” added the Aprilia CEO. The timing of Iannone’s suspension is not favourable for Aprilia as they will change the engine design on the 2020 MotoGP bike moving to a 90-degree V4 engine similar to the one Honda and Ducati are using. The plan is to reduce the difference in speed and braking that the previous Aprilia MotoGP had against its rivals. For now, we just have to wait and see what the results of the Italian's B sample are and if Smith will take Iannone’s place.