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KTM MotoGP racer Bradley Smith announced as 2019 Aprilia test rider

The Aprilia MotoGP team has announced current KTM rider Bradley Smith as its test rider for the 2019 season

Smith revealed on Thursday that he was on the verge of securing a deal with the manufacturer to assist race riders Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone with the development of the RS-GP.

Aprilia confirmed the agreement on Friday morning ahead of first practice for this weekend's round at Misano.

The 27-year-old will make wildcard appearances - the number of which has not been announced - next season, with Aprilia allowed to enter as many as six additional entries next season as it is one of MotoGP's concession teams.

Smith previously said he wanted to make five wildcard outings in 2019 and KTM's desire to cut back on wildcards was the main reason why he did not stay on in a test role with the Austrian manufacturer.

His arrival gives Aprilia a full-time test rider with MotoGP experience, with previous development work being carried out largely by Italian Superbike racer Matteo Baiocco after the departure of Mike di Meglio.

It also continues a growing trend in the MotoGP paddock of manufacturers having a top-level test rider to call upon.

Ducati started that trend by recruiting Michele Pirro (pictured above), a regular wildcard and replacement rider in recent years, while KTM hired Mika Kallio as a full-time tester when it joined MotoGP last year.

Since then, Sylvain Guintoli and Stefan Bradl have taken up similar roles at Suzuki and Honda respectively, while Yamaha is pushing ahead with plans for a European test team of its own for next season, to be spearheaded by Jonas Folger.

Former Tech3 rider Folger was present last week at a private test at Aragon, but did not ride the M1 bike.

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