Joe Roberts Closely Linked to Aprilia MotoGP Ride

Rennie Scaysbrook | November 20, 2020

The consequences of Andrea Iannone’s four-year ban from competition has led to a rushed late season hunt for a replacement. And Aprilia is sensationally edging toward appointing American Joe Roberts as Aleix Espargaro’s team-mate for MotoGP in 2021.

Aprilia considered World Superbike rider Chaz Davies and attempted to prize Moto2 race winner Marco Bezzecchi away from the Sky Racing VR46 squad, only to be rebuffed. Roberts’ great improvement this year, added to the draw of having an American rider present in premier class, appears to have swayed the bosses of the Noale factory.

Joe Roberts MotoGP Aprilia ride
Could we be seeing an American in MotoGP next year? It looks very likely!

A spokesman for Aprilia said Roberts is one of several riders being considered, but admitted negotiations are “most advanced” with the Californian. An announcement on its final decision is expected before the end of the weekend. The 23-year old would become America’s first MotoGP rider since Nicky Hayden in 2015 if the move goes through.

Asked about one-time podium finisher, Aleix Espargaro was enthusiastic. “I like Joe Roberts, how he’s improved,” said the Catalan. “Actually, I was in Qatar this year, in the paddock and then I watched the races and sincerely he impressed me. He was very, very strong. Joe actually has not a lot of experience here, so it looks like he’s growing and improving.

 Joe Roberts MotoGP Aprilia ride Espargaro
Aleix Espargaro is enthusiastic about having Roberts in the team for 2021.

“What I like is that he’s not afraid. He goes full [gas]. He don’t care! He doesn’t want to stay second or third, he goes full or crash. This is good. Obviously, he still has to learn a lot of things but he’s showing that he has the speed, so obviously he’s a good option for the future and to have again an American in the MotoGP category is always great.”

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Rennie Scaysbrook | Road Test Editor Rennie Scaysbrook is our Road Test Editor. A lifetime rider, the Aussie made the trek across the Pacific to live the dream in the U.S. of A. Likes puppies and wheelies.