Borsoi: bye Ducati, hello CRT
With a little over two months remaining before the MotoGP season gets underway in Qatar, the CRT picture is slowly starting to come into focus. While Colin Edwards and his Team Forward Suter-BMW are the only CRT expected to test at Sepang, the Team Aspar ART's will be in action at Valencia, on January 30th and 31st.
"Unfortunately we got off to a late start - Team Aspar sporting director Gino Borsoi told GPone.com - the bike was completed and started for the first time just yesterday, and today it will leave for Spain. It was impossible to make the Sepang test, since the equipment needed to ship by January 15th. Right now we only have two bikes: one version similar to the Superbike, which De Puniet already tested at Jerez, and a new version with a prototype chassis designed by Aprilia."
As we first heard from Gigi Dall’Igna, the switch to Bridgestone tires has created some issues: "The CRT tested by De Puniet at Jerez showed some problems with the tires. At Valencia we will do a comparison between the two bikes, trying to understand if the new chassis works well. If the response is positive, then production of the new chassis for the other bikes will begin on January 31st. In any case, we won't have enough spare equipment for the second Sepang test. We were planning on attending that one, but with our issues it made more sense to stay in Europe rather than risk wasting 3 test days."
Part of the delay was caused by Aspar's last minute decision to part ways with Ducati: "We intended to continue working with Ducati. We proposed a plan to lease a single bike, but we couldn't reach an agreement. After Motegi we needed to rush and find a solution to remain in the premier class, but Team Aspar continues to have a good relationship with Ducati. We were both unhappy to see the project end, because we had some long term plans, but the current economic situation prevented us from making a deal."
What about the performance gap between the CRT's and the pure prototypes? "We don't want to end up looking bad. Considering what we saw at Jerez I don't think we will be too far away, but the factory bikes will probably be more competitive. We are aiming to be the best CRT. Then, in the tighter circuits with shorter straights, maybe we can finish ahead of some factory bikes."
And what is the long term plan now? "We should have an advantage in 2013, when other CRT teams will arrive. This is an opportunity for private teams to gain a whole bunch of experience, where they were previously limited with the factories. Despite having a great relationship with our engineers, previously they were Ducati employees. Instead now we are in charge of our own project. Aprilia will help us improve the bike, and we will receive updates, but we're working with our own engineers. We are laying the foundation to be an independent team, creating a group of engineers that can carry out other projects, maybe even in Moto2 and Moto3. This year will be tough, but then look out!"