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Aprilia has signed Aleix Espargaro to a two-year contract that will see the Spanish rider compete in the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP Championships on the RS-GP. He will race alongside Sam Lowes with Aprilia.

Espargaro raced the last two seasons with Suzuki Ecstar, finishing eighth last season and currently sitting seventh in the 2016 campaign. Though his results were pretty good considering the Suzuki  only returned to MotoGP in 2015 with the GSX-RR, the manufacturer decided to go in a different direction, signing Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins for the next two years.

With no room at his current team, Espargaro turned to Aprilia which had the only remaining factory slot open.

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Espargaro has experience on Aprilia MotoGP machines, racing on the company’s RSV4-derived ART bike in 2012 and 2013, finishing as the top Claiming Rule Team rider both seasons. The RS-GP, however, is a relatively new prototype still going through its growing pains. With Espargaro’s success on the similarly new GSX-RR, Aprilia no doubt hopes to see some improvement next season.

Aprilia’s current riders, Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista, remain unsigned for next season. Bradl is currently 12th in the championship standings while Bautista sits 16th.

[Source: Aprilia Racing Team Gresini]