There has been much speculation on the legality or otherwise of the Aprilia RSV4-based bike to be used by a number of teams operating under the CRT rules in MotoGP in 2012. With the presence of so many members of the Aprilia test team at the recent Valencia and Jerez tests, and first Alex Hofmann and then Randy de Puniet riding a World Superbike spec RSV4R, there were claims that the Aprilia CRT machine was a clear violation of the principle behind the Claiming Rule Team concept.
The Aspar team have taken the criticism to heart, and in an interview with the Spanish magazine Motociclismo, team director Gino Borsoi was at pains to state the team's intention of staying within the CRT rules. Borsoi described at some length the status of the Aprilia project, the direction they are taking and the plans for the future. The project had started a couple of months ago, Borsoi told Motociclismo, after Aspar had decided to run two CRT machines instead of the single Ducati that the squad had run in 2010 and 2011.
After reaching agreement with Aprilia, the Aspar team headed to Valencia, where Alex Hofmann was scheduled to test Aprilia's RSV4R Superbike. The German ex-MotoGP rider first rode the bike on WSBK-spec Pirellis, before switching to the standard Bridgestone tires, to see what problems arose with the standard chassis once spec MotoGP rubber was fitted. Wet weather at Valencia put a halt to their plans, and the next chance that they got to test was at Jerez, where Randy de Puniet rode the bike - largely unchanged, except for "a few modifications to the chassis" - on Bridgestone tires and with carbon brakes for the first time.
The goal of the test was to gather data to use to design a chassis specifically for the MotoGP version of the bike. Who will build that chassis is unclear, Borsoi told Motociclismo, but it will either be the team themselves or Aprilia. With Aprilia already supplying the engine and the electronics, having the Noale factory also build a chassis appears to some observers to be pushing the limits of the Claiming Rule Teams regulations, with some feeling that such a bike should be entered as a factory prototype, rather than as a CRT entry. But Borsoi was quick to point out that whoever builds the chassis, the entire project will be under the direction of Aspar staff, consisting of Andrea Orlandi, the team's MotoGP engineer, and Borsoi himself.
But Borsoi was absolutely clear on one point, however: Whoever Aspar turned to to produce the chassis, the bike would be purchased and owned by the team, and not leased from Aprilia. "The machines will be owned by the team, and I can do what I want with them," Borsoi told Motociclismo, "Because this is the concept of CRT, it's very clear and if anyone thinks they will be leasing bikes, they are wrong." The decision as to whether the bikes will qualify as CRT entries or as factory prototypes would be down to the Grand Prix Commission, and nobody else, he added.
There is still a long way to go, however. The team hope to have the chassis ready by the end of January, and will take it there for an initial test, and hope to be ready for the second official MotoGP test at Sepang on 22nd-24th February. Before that, they hoped to take the Aprilia WSBK machine to Valencia on December 19th and 20th, to test alongside the Kalex-KTM Moto3 machines. With both CRT machines and Moto3 bikes not yet being legal for Grand Prix racing, the teams are free to test as and when they want, and are not restrained by the winter break imposed on the teams running factory prototypes.
You can read the full interview with Gino Borsoi in Spanish on the Motociclismo website.