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GP Week : Issue 144
16 AN enthusiastic late take-up of the new-next-year CRT option for a two-level MotoGP series has fulfilled Dorna’s expectations, and boosted grid numbers by almost one third. With 22 bikes lined up, there will be eight rather than six rows on the grid. With the loss of Suzuki and shrinkage for both Honda and Ducati, factory machines have dwindled from this year’s 17 to only 12. But there were more than enough potential CRT entries to make up the numbers, with yet more (the Laglisse BMW team for one) waiting in the wings. CRT machines may use production-based engines, up to 12 per rider per season, compared with six for factory bikes. They also get 24 rather than 21 litres of fuel for the race. Enthusiastic recruits include high-level MotoGP runners, Jorge ‘Aspar ’ Martinez and Fausto Gresini. Four different types of street- bike engines will be raced: Aprilia, BMW, Kawasaki and Honda, with Aprilia the most numerous. A fifth planned entry, the Spanish Inmotec, has been replaced by a second Kawasaki for the BQR team, because of delays in the 1000cc version of the current 800cc motor. Current lap times (see testing report) suggest the CRT bikes will start the season several seconds off the pace of the factory bikes, and will be left to race among themselves for an informal and unofficial CRT trophy. Although no list has been released, testing has allowed a probable entry list to be inferred. FULL 2012 GRID FOR MOTOGP CRT entries boost numbers from 17 to 22 FACTORy AND lEASE TEAMS Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda Alvaro Bautista – Gresini Honda Stefan Bradl – LCR Honda Jorge Lorenzo – Yamaha Factory Ben Spies – Yamaha Factory Andrea Dovizioso – Tech 3 Yamaha Cal Crutchlow – Tech 3 Yamaha Valentino Rossi – Marlboro Ducati Nicky Hayden – Marlboro Ducati Karel Abraham – AB Cardion Ducati Hector Barbera – Pramac Ducati CRT TEAMS Colin Edwards – Forward Suter-BMW Michele Pirro – Gresini FTR-Honda Randy de Puniet – Aspar TBA-Aprilia Aleix Espargaro – Aspar TBA-Aprilia Ivan Silva – BQR FTR-Kawasaki Yonny Hernandez – BQR FTR-Kawasaki Anthony West – Speed Master TBA-Aprilia Federico Sandi – Grillini Gapam-BMW James Ellison – Paul Bird Racing TBA-Aprilia APRILIA’S MotoGP-kitted RSV4 Superbike made a second appearance at mixed Jerez tests. But while the lap times were impressive in the hands of Randy de Puniet – unofficially fastest by a full second, the nature of the bike itself was far from clear. The test mule’s chassis resembled that of the Italian company’s Superbike, but crucial details were hidden under swathes of black duct tape, effectively concealing detail modifications such as swing-arm pivot position or the steering head. The swing-arm itself was clearly a hastily modified unit, roughly finished. The bike was again running out of the Aspar team pit, attended by factory race-shop technicians. Shortly after the tests it was confirmed that de Puniet will join Aleix Espargaro on Aprilia- powered CRT bikes, as reported last week. Martinez also confirmed that they would use Aprilia power, saying: “Our goal next year is to be the best CRT, and prepare to go a Aprilia CRT mule shrouded in mystery ... and swathes of duct tape step further in 2013.” But mystery surrounds the top team’s choice of frame, although a second test with Aprilia suggests that the team is leaning away from the original plan to commission a chassis from independent constructors FTR towards the same source as the engine. Martinez has long and strong links with Aprilia in the smaller classes, and his rider Nico Terol won the last 125 title for the Italian factory. Aprilia’s intention to offer an engine/chassis package to lease to CRT teams is seen by some to undermine the CRT principles, in at least two ways. One of Dorna’s aims was to free satellite teams from being obliged to give back their motorcycles at the end of each season. From the factory side, the MSMA was anxious to avoid offering rivals a low-cost “back door” into the premier class. Their only recourse will be to exercise the claiming rule, which each full factory team (but not lease- teams) can do once to any CRT team. However, race management can reclassify any team at will, and if the CRT teams are elevated to factory-team status, they then suffer the same restrictions in engines (six instead of 12), and the smaller fuel allowance.