Aprilia World Superbike standout Eugene Laverty hopes to climb to MotoGP next season with the Italian manufacturer, possibly as a teammate of 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden at the Aspar team.
Hayden is rumored to be close to signing with Aspar for 2014, as Aprilia is abandoning its caste-leading CRT bike for a prototype effort in the premier class. The bike reportedly will have pneumatic valves and a seamless-shift transmission.
It's uncertain whether Aprilia will use bespoke electronics, which come with a penalty of a smaller fuel tank and fewer engine changes, or the Dorna software for the spec Magneti Marelli black box. Teams using the Dorna software can use 24-liter fuel tanks and have more engine changes permitted.
Northern Irish rider Laverty has raced for the Aprilia factory team in WSBK since 2012. He finished sixth in the standings with one win last season, at Portimao. He is third in the standings this year with six victories, including a sweep of both races last weekend at Istanbul.
"I have not got a deal for next year but, after the two wins in Istanbul, I am definitely in a better position," Laverty said to British media. "I would like to be in MotoGP with Aprilia because I have been with them for two years now, and I know the bike and the electronics well, which is important."
MotoGP seats could open for Hayden and Laverty at Aspar because leading rider Aleix Espargaro is trying to extricate himself from the second year of his contract so he can join Forward Racing, which is fielding a "customer" Yamaha bike in 2014. The other 2013 Aspar rider, veteran Randy de Puniet, may leave the team to concentrate on increased testing duties with the new Suzuki MotoGP prototype next season, with an eye on a works racing seat in 2015.
For whatever reason, de Puniet has been riding this season with body language that suggests someone had intentionally shot his dog, and looked pretty dour for a guy married to a super-model who seems to hate wearing clothes.
While his peer, Alex Hofmann, easily and seemingly happily morphed into the role of a test rider for Aprilia, uploading said to be humorous videos to YouTube and doing color for German TV, it seems clear that the fiery and very fast de Puniet isn't really at peace with solely test riding as opposed to racing.