Aprilia confirmed to Autosport on Tuesday that its test rider Bradley Smith would replace Andrea Iannone while the Italian awaits a decision on his appeal to have his doping ban overturned.
The outcome of Iannone's appeal against his 18-month suspension - dating back to October when the illegal steroid was first found in his system following a drugs test at the Malaysian Grand Prix - with the Court of Arbitration of Sport is not expected until August. With the coronavirus-delayed 2020 MotoGP season starting with a double-header at Jerez on 19 and 26 July, Smith's sudden promotion was inevitable.
Admittedly, Aprilia's choices were limited. Faced between picking Smith, who has been testing the RS-GP for over a year and had a key hand in developing the radical 2020 bike, or fellow test rider Lorenzo Savadori, the unproven ex-World Superbike racer, there was only going to be one option.