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GP Week : Issue 189
Aprilia’s CRT bike is to get a major makeover for next year, to challenge the new generation of production-racer factory bikes, with the Italian factory promising more power and better handling for their already-dominant production-engine based ART. The new engine will have pneumatic valve springs and be mounted in a new chassis, with a new aerodynamic package. Most significantly, Aprilia have promised a seamless-shift gearbox, which may be race-ready before the end of this season. The ART (Aprilia Racing Team) machine is the best of the CRT generation, based on road engines, especially in the hands of Power electronics rider Aleix espargaro, who is able to challenge the lesser factory machines at circuits where top speed is less important. Factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso had a real headache finishing ahead of espargaro at the sachsenring, and said after the race that the Aprilia was actually faster than his Desmosedici in certain areas – notably in corner speed and bottom-end acceleration, where the less powerful V4 engine had better torque. The question mark for the new bike, as well as the factory production racers, remains electronics. Much of the current ART’s strength comes from the factory ’s in-house sophisticated electronics package, developed for their World superbike programme. From next year onwards, all MotoGP bikes must use the Magneti-Marelli hardware, with only full factory entries able to write their own software programs, in exchange for only five (against 12) engines, and 20 rather than 24 litres of fuel. The Aspar team, sponsored by Power electronics and owned by former multi- champion Jorge Martinez, confirmed at silverstone that they would remain as Aprilia’s leading team, after considering a switch to the new production-racer option from Honda and Yamaha. AprIlIA ArT UpGrADE To cHAllENGE NEw-GENErATIoN MoToGp bIkES MOTOGP >>> nEWs Double World Champion Casey stoner’s second test for Honda at Motegi was rained off last week, with the Australian’s hopes of testing the new production-racer RCV1000R put on hold until his next scheduled two days of testing in October. It was his second outing for Honda, with the first also hit by bad weather. Stoner was missing riding a racing bike, while his speed would have been a major help to Honda, with the company’s own test riders unable to unearth chatter and other problems found in the past by the faster MotoGP riders. News of the wash-out came along with further confirmation that the rider, who retired abruptly at the end of last year still at the height of his powers, is planning neither wild card entries this year nor a return to MotoGP in the future. Stoner switched to the junior level of the Australian V8 car series this year, but complained recently of restricted track time and PR duties at least as onerous as those he disliked so much at MotoGP, suggesting that he is unlikely to return to the series next year. Although Honda denied any such plan, Spanish reports insisted that an application for a wild card ride at his home GP at Phillip Island had been refused by Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta. SToNEr HoNDA TEST rAINED off racing return ruled out The Indian-owned Mahindra will more than double its numbers in next weekend’s san Marino GP at Misano, after the first sale of its switzerland-built Moto3 machine to the Ambrogio racing team. In addition to Mahindra’s own two riders Miguel Oliveira and Efren Vazquez plus factory-entered wild card Andrea Locatelli, the Ambrogio riders Brad Binder and newcomer Luca Amato will be switching from their Suter Hondas to Mahindra for the remainder of the season. The company’s first sale comes earlier than expected, amid growing disillusion among the Honda-powered ranks, significantly out-powered by KTM rivals. In spite of sterling efforts by youngsters Binder and Jack Miller and veteran Alexis Masbou, the Hondas are outclassed. All of the above use other chassis: those on stock Hondas are even worse off. Honda has complained that KTM is spoiling the spirit of what was meant to be a technically low-cost class, by fielding factory- level bikes. Rules governing the cost of engines and parts failed to kerb the Austrian manufacturer’s prowess. The Mahindra was built in record time in Switzerland, with Indian engineers working with Suter. The MGP3O has proved not only reliable, but able to run with the KTMs, although yet to claim a first rostrum finish. Further development was under way in Switzerland and at automotive giant Mahindra’s engineering facilities in India, and Mahindra Racing CEO Mufaddal Choonia said: “There has been a great deal of interest from other teams. I can say this is almost something historic for Indian automotive engineering.” MAHINDrA oUSTS HoNDA IN MoTo3 TEAM 17 GPWEEK.com // 17 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: