The final day of MotoGP testing at Sepang saw improvement by the top seven riders in lap times, but for the rest of the field, recovering the gap was slightly less impressive than yesterday.
Everyone seemed to be satisfied with the first test of the season, except for Ducati riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso. The two knew it would be difficult as they had no new parts to test - just old ones to re-test and the bike is still sadly very much off pace, just like in 2011 and 2012 and with the same old problems, chattering, traction and rideability. Ducati will have to perform some sort of miracle and with very little time to do it or pray it rains every race day.
Cal Crutchlow - 5th
“It has been a very positive week and I am where I expected to be and that’s right behind the top four factory bikes. I can’t really ask for more than that and I’m pleased with my lap times because my bike is almost identical to the bike I rode last year. Today I was doing a lot of laps on old tyres and trying to stay consistent and I’ve improved. I also feel like I’ve made good progress in improving on the brakes, so it has been a productive test and good to be back on track after the winter break. I’ve built up my confidence each day but it is obvious that 2013 is going to be incredibly tough. There is some amazing talent on really good machinery but I am really looking forward to it. I’ll be ready to give it 100% as always and come the first race in Qatar I’ll be ready to challenge. Credit to Bradley as we ll because he has done a fantastic job this week. This was his first proper test in MotoGP and he has got faster and more confident each day. I have been very impressed with him and it is going to be good being his teammate this season.”
Stefan Bradl – 6th
“The result of these three days of work is quite good for me. I think we have completed our job gathering more data ahead the next test here. Even today I was working on a raft of things from traction control, to suspension and brakes and Bridgestone gave us a new rear hard tyre to test. At the end I run the circuit 43 times growing my confidence on this bike. There’s more work to do before the first race of the season but we leave Sepang with a good base”.
After renewing with Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro for another season, Power Electronics Aspar Racing has generated this interesting Q&A interview with the two riders, where they discuss their ART machines, how the first season has gone so far in general and they also mention that a spec ECU could help tighten up the gap between CRT riders and the rest of the field.
How has the ART evolved since the first time you rode it?
Randy: The technical team, Aprilia and I have got to know the ART better each time out and we have done a great job with the suspension. We have worked to make it a much more comfortable bike.
Aleix: The most important thing is that the team and I have both got used to the machine, which has benefitted us when it comes to finding all of its potential. What’s more, we have also improved front end performance a lot. In preseason we were suffering from a lot of chatter, and now this has been eliminated.
How have you matured in 2012?
Randy: This new project has made me mature a lot as a rider. We were starting from zero, so we had to make many decisions over the course of the year in order to make the ART a winning bike. Now that the bike has an excellent base, it’s all about polishing my riding at each race, giving 100% and squeezing the most out of it.
Aleix: Now I am a little more mature more cerebral. Thanks to the team and to Jorge I have learnt to be much more serene, which helps when solving setbacks.
Why are there such differences in MotoGP? What would you do to even things up?
Randy: Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner have the support of the factories, they have the best bikes on the grid and a good team behind them. They also ride with a level of total confidence which, added to the fact that they are incredible riders, makes a big difference. The difference between the factory bikes and the rest of the field is huge, but it is logical that the best riders have the best machinery. We will have to wait until 2014, when supposedly we will all have the same electronics package.
Aleix: For me it is clear that Jorge, Pedrosa and Stoner have something more than the rest. But it isn’t as much as you see on the track. There is a big difference in bikes and with electronics, so when this evens up the races will be much more fun –there will be more equality. What Dorna are doing is proposing to limit electronics and power via the spec ECU. This will help a lot for MotoGP in general.
Jonas Folger started the 2012 season struggling with IodaRacing’s TR001, but when he switched to Aspar’s Moto3 team to replace Alberto Moncayo, the 18-year old immediately turned his season around, as in his debut at Indianapolis he took a third place podium, then won the following race at Brno and at Aragon he was on pole position and finished in third.
Obviously Jorge ‘Aspar’ Martinez wanted to continue his collaboration with the German rider and re-newed the German’s contract for another year. Folger is the the fourth rider in Aspar’s stable to be confirmed after Nico Terol (Moto2), Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro (MotoGP).
“I am delighted to be able to confirm the signature of Jonas Folger for 2013,” Jorge Martinez. “Ever since he rode the bike for the first time at Indianapolis he has shown a high level of performance and been constantly amongst the leading positions. I think it is great that we will be together again in Moto3 for the whole of next season. The Mapfre Aspar Team has complete faith in the Kalex/KTM package and of course in Jonas Folger. We hope that in 2013 this combination can take us back to where we belong, which is fighting for the Moto3 title.”
“I am really happy that I am staying with the Mapfre Aspar Team for another season and I think Jorge is too. We made a connection from the first minute we started working together and thanks to this the results started coming instantly. I want to keep going like this and be on the podium at of the remaining races. My objective for next season is to start as strongly as possible and fight for the title from the start,” commented Folger.
Aspar Martinez has decided to renew their contracts for another year and the Power Electronics team is ruling in the CRT class with 11 ‘wins’ out of 14 rounds, with De Puniet taking five and Espargaro six with their ART machines and a couple of times they’ve also finished in the top ten.
Jorge Martínez ‘Aspar’: “We are delighted to be able to confirm both Aleix Espargaró and Randy De Puniet for next season. Aleix started the season a little behind Randy but with the right system and a lot of hard work he is now at an outstanding level, both in terms of the technical aspect and his riding. He has improved a lot and we are all very happy with that. All I am asking him is to keep going like this because I think he has the potential to continue developing and growing in the future. Randy is having a very strong season. Thanks also to him the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team is the reference point in the new concept of MotoGP. Randy has proven his expertise at MotoGP level and every other category he has raced in and I am very happy to continue with such a solid project. I hope that with these two riders in place the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team can continue to move forward.”
Yesterday evening at the Hotel Balneario de las Arenas in Valencia, Power Electronics Aspar Team officially presented Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro and the 2012 race livery to the public (we already saw the new livery during the CRT test held at Aragon earlier this March) ahead of the official MotoGP IRTA test that starts this Friday at Jerez.
Aspar Martinez decided to run at CRT team after talks with Ducati fell through over the cost of their GP bikes (Ducati boss Filippo Preziosi has said that it is impossible for MotoGP prototype to cost around €1 million) and his choice fell on the ART (Aprilia RSV4 engine in an Aprilia protype chassis) which will allow him to field two riders this season.
“For myself and for the Power Electronics Aspar Team the CRT project is an exciting challenge.We had one rider in the premier-class before and now we have two, so I am delighted with this.The concept and regulations of the premier-class have changed a lot and there is a lot of future in MotoGP. Our tests have been excellent and we are highly motivated. I want to thank Power Electronics for the confidence that they have placed in this project. I also want to thank the other new sponsors: Vibo, Bel Ray and Crecs.” said the powerful manager, who also runs teams in Moto2 and Moto3 under different sponsors.
While MotoGP riders will still have another day of testing at Sepang to put under the belts tomorrow, yesterday the Aspar riders Randy de Puniet, Aleix Espargaro for and Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini concluded their two day CRT test at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia.
Despite the bitter cold temperatures, all three riders improved on the lap times they posted on Monday and once again de Puniet was the fastest of the small group of ART riders, lapping in 1.34.9 and dropping a full second from the previous day while Aleix Espargaro also shaved off a full second, but was still seven tenths adrift from his French team mate.
Mattia Pasini also came to grips with his Speed Master bike in the two day test, trying to master the complex electronics package of the Aprilia RSV4.
“Today the conditions were worse, the cold and wind have caused the track to have even less grip than yesterday, and it cost us more to catch up. Yet we improved our lap times, but I am convinced that we would have improved more if the conditions were better,” said De Puniet to the official website. “Today we continued working hard on the electronics, and also on managing the engine braking and the clutch. We’re leaving Valencia happy to have collected a good amount of information, and defined the next steps forward for the next tests at Jerez as well. The year has started great, I hope we continue in the same way. “
While Mattia Pasini said, “This was a shakedown test for us and we’re aware of the kind of work that we have to do. We’ve done what we set out to do: focusing on the electronics, getting to know the bike and its behavior with the Bridgestone tires and we also got to know one another as a team. From the data that we gathered at this test we can prepare the work plan for the next test and continue our learning process in regard to the category and the bike. There are several new things on which we have to work on but I am very pleased with this first contact with the bike and I think we’ve targeted the main objective of this test.”
Valencia MotoGP Day 2 lap times:
1. Randy De Puniet 1.34.9 (35 laps)
2. Aleix Espargaró 1.35.6 (46)
3. Mattia Pasini 1.36.7 (43)
Aspar riders Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro concluded the first day of testing at Valencia of their ART (Aprilia Racing Tecnology) bikes, based on the Aprilia RSV4, which now has a updated electronics package, a new fairing and carbon disk brakes and a new chassis (so Ducati won’t complain) that will better suited to the Bridgestone tires.
Both riders seemed happy with the bike, especially de Puniet who was able to make the comparison with the first version he rode during the Valencia post season test.
Randy De Puniet 1.35.30 (38 laps):
“The grip of the bike has considerably evolved compared to the one that I rode at the end of last year. This is the first test after several months and I am very happy. I can see that there has been a lot of hard work done over winter to make the bike grow. This first contact was very positive, I believe that tomorrow will continue to improve as the range is large. Today we worked mainly on traction control and on braking points. Tomorrow we will focus more on the chassis of the bike. It’s still early but we’re seeing that the bike has huge potential and offers a number of options and can evolve . I am very encouraged by this new adventure, I think there is a lot of work ahead, and although it is early my aim is to be the CRT reference ride and get as close to the factory bikes as much as possible. “
Aleix Espargaró 1.36.70 (47 laps):
“I am very happy because I enjoyed very much, is the first time I’ve ridden the CRT, I expected a lot of power and that’s precisely what I found. On the other hand I did not expect such a flexible and manageable chassis, I was pleasantly surprised. I must admit that the first impression on this new bike has been great. There had been some difficulties with the new tires, and personally I found a bike that has a lot of grip. Today I met everyone on my team, and they gave me a warm welcome which is very important to me. Today we worked mainly on electronics, traction control and the antispin. From eleven to four pm we improved a lot, I think they’ve found a good base. Tomorrow we’ll work more on the chassis. “
Source | firstname.lastname@example.org
The team will be using CRT Aprilia powered bikes (today at Jerez, de Puniet was using a different frame confirmed by a couple of spy shots that you can see here).
Jorge Martinez ‘Aspar’: “We are really happy because we are facing a new challenge and we believe that the future of MotoGP is CRT, so we’re the first to join this initiative. Also this year we will continue to grow, in our first two seasons in MotoGP we had one rider and now we will have two, Randy De Puniet and Aleix Espargaró. I’m glad that Randy is back with the team, he was with us in 2005 and we had a very good relationship. Aleix was also with us in 2009 but only for two races, and it is pleasure to have him with us. We are convinced that this new challenge will be very successful, with our two riders and with Aprilia as our engine supplier . We wanted to use the Noale marque in this new project because of the wonderful relationship that unites us, and for their proven quality in lower classes. Our goal this year is to be the best CRT and prepare to go a step further in 2013. “
It was rumored that Aleix Espargaro would be moving back to MotoGP and race one of Aspar’s CRT bikes in 2012, instead the Spanish rider has signed to ride for Aspar’s Moto2 team.
Espargaro new team mate will be 125cc World Champion Nico Terol who is moving up to Moto2. The Spaniard who finished 11th in the general standings riding for Pons HP 40 (3rd at Catalunya was his best result this season), was Aspar’s second choice as the manager wanted Toni Elias, but the former MotoGP rider is close to signing a deal with Gresini’s Moto2 team and he’ll be testing the Moriwaki next week in a three-day test session at Valencia.
Aspar Martinez has already completed his line-up for Moto2 and Moto3, but his Moto1 team is still up in the air.
To be dropped from Pramac Ducati at the end of the season to make room for Loris Capirossi and maybe Randy de Puniet, Aleix Espargaro had to turn to Moto2 to for a new ride and has found it with Sito Pons’ team, Tenerife 40 Pons Racing Moto2 Team.
The Spaniard who is currently 14th in the MotoGP standings, has been officially confirmed and will join Pons’ son Axel on the Kalex Moto2 bikes and will compete against his brother Pol, who’ll be switching to Moto2 in 2011 with Tuenti racing, while at the moment there is no news where former Pons rider Sergio Gadea will be heading.
“When I have to move to Moto2 then I want to do it with the best options and I know that Sito Pons can give me that. I’m delighted and very motivated for this new chapter and about the possibilty to work with Sito Pons as well as with Santi Mulero and all the team,” said Espargaro. “I know what they can do and I know what I can which is why together we have the potential to fight for the top from the beginning. I accept this challenge with a lot of respect, because I know I’m going to be surrounded by great riders and teams which for me is even more motivation to reach my new goals.”