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GP Week : Issue 147
To some, Aprilia’s new over-the-counter CRT machine is more than sailing close to the wind. Developed from the existing factory Superbike and supplied on a two-year lease-to-buy arrangement, it seems seriously set to stand on the existing manufacturers’ toes, and to challenge the distinction between factory and CRT machines. New race director Mike Webb does not agree. To him the factory-made ART (Aprilia Racing Team) bikes are the perfect solution. And he hopes other factories will follow suit. “In my personal opinion I think it is exactly what everyone should be doing,” he told GPWEEK, in an exclusive interview. “You’ve got almost a return to TZ Yamaha days, where a manufacturer makes a factory race bike, then sells copies of it that anyone can buy, unrestricted. And that to me is exactly what the CRT model is aimed at.” New Zealander Webb, who took over the role of Race Director this year while retaining the position of Technical Director, is referring to a generation of 250 and 350 production racers that filled GP grids, and gave rise to an ultra-competitive era with riders all on similar machines. He sees no problem in that the bike is derived from the rival World Superbike series. “If HRC decided to make and sell a production racer, which we certainly hope they do, it would be with a four-cylinder engine and a chassis that looked similar to racers in that other series. We’d be quite happy, because it’s a production racer that is not homologated for that series.” Was Honda planning such a bike? “In discussions it’s been said that it is feasible,” said Webb. Such bikes could also find a market with the small but well-heeled track-day clientele, he added. But he admitted that there was still a danger that protests from the factories could see the ART reclassified as a factory entry, losing the CRT advantages of extra fuel and engines. “It’s a possibility,” he agreed. The mechanism for protest had “not been established, but it is a GP Commission decision, so a proposal has to be tabled to the commission from a member of the commission: Dorna, the FIM, IRTA or the MSMA (manufacturers’ association). As you can imagine it is more likely to come from the MSMA.” APRILIA ‘FACTORY’ CRT SHOULD BE THE MODEL FOR ALL – RACE DIRECTOR Honda to follow with production-racer? Randy dr Puniet will ride the lead Aprilia CRT bike 10 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS