Michele Pirro Confirmed At Gresini To Ride FTR Honda CRT Machine In MotoGP

The 2012 MotoGP grid took another step closer to completion today, with the announcement that Michele Pirro will be riding the San Carlo Gresini Honda team's CRT entry in MotoGP next season. Pirro is to ride a CBR1000RR-powered MotoGP machine, the Honda engine housed in a chassis designed and built by FTR.

The move had been long anticipated, with Pirro claiming the favorite role for the seat after his win in the final Moto2 race of the 2011 season at Valencia in November, aboard the Gresini Moriwaki. His Moto2 teammate Yuki Takahashi had originally been linked to the Gresini CRT ride, but the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli at Sepang left Gresini without an Italian rider for 2012, a key point for Gresini's Italian sponsor, snack manufacturer San Carlo. Pirro, who had shown clear progress throughout his debut Moto2 season, took priority over Takahashi once Alvaro Bautista was signed to race Gresini's Honda RC213V factory prototype for 2012, that deal being completed at Valencia.

The signing of Pirro brings the number of confirmed riders in MotoGP for 2012 up to 19. Though BQR has not officially confirmed its participation, Yonny Hernandez and Ivan Silva are expected to contest the Kawasaki-powered FTR bike the team has been testing, which raises the total to 21. The Laglisse team are also expected to field two riders - probably Carmelo Morales and Xavi del Amor - while there is also a chance that the Grillini Team, who tested a home-built BMW machine at Valencia, could also field Federico Sandi in MotoGP in 2012, a move which looked more likely when Sandi's father, experienced crew chief Giovanni Sandi, left Max Biaggi's side to move to the MotoGP paddock.

For a full overview of the current MotoGP line up for the 2012 season, see our provisional MotoGP grid page. For an explanation of the term CRT and just what it entails, see our CRT FAQ.

Below is the official press release issued by the Gresini team announcing Pirro's signing:


Michele Pirro, winner of an emotional final Moto2 race of the 2011 season at Valencia, will be the rider entrusted with the new Team San Carlo Honda Gresini CRT bike, which features an FTR chassis and Honda CBR 1000R engine, next season. After an encouraging first campaign together in Moto2, the Italian rider and team now take the same enthusiasm and work ethic into a new adventure in MotoGP.

Fausto Gresini "We have decided that it feels right for a new project such as CRT to give Michele Pirro the opportunity to show his talent. He demonstrated in the closing stages of the 2011 Moto2 World Championship that he has the technical ability to improve further as a rider and we believe that he can be one of the leading CRT riders. His fantastic and truly unforgettable win at Valencia was emotional for all of us and it convinced us that he is worthy of this chance. We are also obviously an Italian team so it is also important to us to carry this new project forward with an Italian rider in Michele."

Michele Pirro "I am happy to have made this choice and proud to be competing with Team San Carlo Honda Gresini in this new adventure. It wasn't an easy decision to make because my initial priority was to build on my results from 2011 in Moto2 but the faith shown in me by Fausto Gresini at the end of the season left me in little doubt which route I should take. I am honoured to remain part of this fantastic group of people and to be joining them as part of an ambitious project that represents the future of MotoGP. Hopefully I can pay back the faith they have shown in me with some good results and technical development."

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Does anyone have photos of the Grellini bikes? I've tried finding them online and can't. Not even a Grellini team website.

People kept saying they were the most ridiculous effort in CRT, but the idea of a small underfunded team trying to compete with the big boys with minimal resources is fascinating to me...

Guess I had to search Italian Google? Either way, it doesn't look as botched together as some people made it out to be...

So, Pirro's top characteristic is that he's Italian? I'm also puzzled by Aprilia's choice of RDP for their CRT project. He kind of rolled down to them. I'm sure they could've done better.

No, Pirro's top characteristic is that he is a most promising young rider, who did great races in WSS and Moto2 including of course his Moto2 race win in Valencia this year. He is super-motivated and a very exciting rider to watch. As for RDP, he was not Aprilia's choice but Aspar's, and frankly I can't see how he (Aspar) could have done much better; what better riders were available?

What's wrong with Randy de Puniet? He's a fantastic rider, probably one of the best choices for a CRT ride (Colin Edwards aside).

"...His Moto2 teammate Yuki Takahashi had originally been linked to the Gresini CRT ride, but the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli at Sepang left Gresini without an Italian rider for 2012, a key point for Gresini's Italian sponsor, snack manufacturer San Carlo..."

As far as RDP goes, don't get me wrong, I like the guy an' I wish him well. It's the randomness of the process of acquiring a rider that confused me. It seams that Aspar and Aprilia waited to get someone who didn't have other options.

If we talk about wishes I'd much rather take Iannone than RDP.

Experience with the electronics package (and the fickle Bridgestones) will be vital to getting the CRT bikes to be competitive with the satellite machines.

Iannone doesn't have that experience, RDP does.

This was made very clear by Suter when talking about the development of their CRT bike. The first MotoGP rider on board was Kallio who has a limited experience in the top category and they are delighted to have Colin who has so much more experience.
Colin and Randy will probably be miles ahead the other CRTs, at least when the season starts.
For the same reason we will also have Ant West back, even his limited experience with the big bikes is very valuable!
Iannone and his 3 wins per year (2009-2011) may not be up to the task compared to Randy's experience (6 seasons in MotoGP, 990 and 800, Kawasaki, Honda, Ducati, Michelin and Bridgestone).
A young gun like Espargaro and an experienced rider seems like the good combination for Aspar team.
Can't wait for the 31st of January to see what the CRTs can do along the rest of the field at Sepang.

Given the Honda/Aspar connection, I'm a little surprised this project won't be using a Moriwaki frame. Especially when you consider how busy FTR will be building the Ducati factory frames ;o)

Is there any rumours/info on Moriwaki running a CRT test mule?

I really didn't like when that sponsor backed Hungarian gang kicked Takahashi out of GP just to get royally disgraced by the performance of their champion. Now it happens again.
The other thing is that WSS successes (and SBK for that matter) doesn't translate to GP. And his season in Moto2 was far from great. That win at the end of a season happened in crash infested race with Bradl not needing to win with Marques out of the race.. He did a good job and took the opportunity when it was presented, it's just that the reality of pastry shops deciding who gets the ride doesn't really appeal to me.

p.s. I bought the electronics/tyres experience argument.

This reminds of me of late 2010 when,yes,another Valencia Moto 2 winner was announced in GP for 2011. Karel Abraham in spite of the detraction,aquitted himself admirably in his rookie season. Why not Pirro ? Its always good to see a new rider given the chance. Lets face it,2012 will see a 2 tier level of Championship. Prototypes and CRT (prototypes). Initially I expect a huge gap between the two sub classes of the premier class.
Pirro on the CRT bike need only focus on getting himself established within the pecking order of the 'sub-species bike' of Moto GP next year. Gresini will look after him and like Karel before him, I'm sure he will prove no less of a revelation.
The big losers as riders heading into 2012 MotoGP/CRT are Marquez and Iannone.

within reason of course, and that reason being sound international or domestic topping experience. I struggle to comprehend the delusion some people live under. Somebody wins and somebody comes last in a race - invariably with a stonking great gap between them. Always has been, always will be. No amount of rose tinting will ever alter this reality of history.

The gaps between all competitors are talent based and usually magnified by the quality of the machinery they run.

The game is like the proverbial political greasy pole. Good luck to all those that slither and slide up and down, and congrat's to those uber talented few that clamber all the way to the top.

The rules are:

Anyone who is on factory machinery and not winning all the time is crap and doesn't deserve to be on a factory ride (except VR of course).

Anyone who is on satellite machinery and doesn't run near the front is crap and shouldn't be in MotoGP.

And most importantly, those crappy sponsors with their dirty money seem to forget that rides in MotoGP are to be allocated on the extremely objective criteria of 'fairness' or 'he deserves it'. Running a team with a rider that the sponsor approves of, rather than what some fan wants (without putting any money in of course), is just not on and ruins the whole show.