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GP Week : Issue 145
Modelled on a factory Superbike, built and ser viced by the factory, and setting some impressive test times way faster than the other CRT bikes, racing observers are standing by for controversy over Aprilia’s ART (Aprilia Racing Team) machine. Far from the original CRT concept of a tuned production engine in a specially built prototype chassis, the ART is more of a production racer, giving rise to accusations that the Italian factory (dispossessed of its former two-stroke superiority) has found a cheap way back into MotoGP. This was always the greatest fear of the existing factory teams. The Aprilia will be the most numerous of the new-generation production-engined Claiming Rule Team machines, with five of the nine bikes on the grid, all but one in the factory chassis (the Ioda, in FTR). They include the top-level Aspar team of Jorge Martinez, after the Spanish former champion and successful 125 and 250/Moto2 team owner turned his back on his leased satellite Ducati to support the new low-cost MotoGP option. Rider Randy de Puniet was close to Hector Barbera’s 1000cc Ducati in Spanish tests; team-mate Aleix Espargaro on his heels. Mutterings aside, it will take a formal protest for any change in status ... which would drop engine allocation from 12 to six, and fuel from 24 to 21 litres. IRTA chief Mike Trimby explained the situation. “All the entries were approved, with or without home-made chassis, by the GP Commission, which includes the manufacturers’ association. So as far as we’re concerned they are running with it. “There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to run.” Reclassification could come at any time, however. “If somebody comes along muttering that one of the entries is actually a factory bike, then the GP Commission can by unanimous decision say that they lose their CRT status.” With immediate effect. Another sanction would be for factory teams to claim engines, but Trimby echoed the view that “this is extremely unlikely.” The reason for the bike’s success so far, he thought, was Aprilia’s highly developed electronic package. He expected that at least one other team would build its own chassis, adding: “The things are being bought .. . it’s not like a lease deal with the factory. As I understand it is a two-year deal, and teams own them at the end of that period.” APRILIA ART BLURS THE BOUNDARIES ‘Factory’ CRT bike in danger of being reclassif ied ... 8 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS