The Last CRT Bike Takes to the Track: Pirro to Shake Down Gresini FTR Honda At Imola

After the Suter BMW of Forward Racing, the FTR Kawasakis of BQR and the Aprilia ARTs, the last of the CRT bikes will get its first run out on track today. San Carlo Gresini's Michele Pirro will take the Honda-powered FTR out at Imola for a preliminary shakedown test today, Friday, with two more days of testing to follow for Gresini's CRT machine. According to, the bike will only get an hour of track time on Friday, to test that everything is working correctly. 

The bike had initially been due to make its debut at the Aragon CRT test earlier this month, but a shortage of parts - the seat unit and subframe were not yet ready, according to - meant that the debut had to be delayed. Given the cold and windy conditions at Aragon, which saw the bikes which did attend confined to their garages for much of the time, the Gresini team did not lose out too much by not attending the test. 

The Gresini CRT bike features a rolling chassis designed and built by FTR, housing a Honda CBR1000RR engine prepared and tuned by World Superbike specialists Ten Kate Racing. Though the bike will benefit from the ride-by-wire system which has only recently been made legal in WSBK, the engine is expected to be down on power. Reports that the bike will produce around 220 hp would put it some 30+ hp down on the factory prototypes, and about 10 hp down on the Aprilia engines used by Aspar, PBM and IODA. The CBR1000's relatively narrow bore - the standard engine uses a 76mm bore, well below the permitted maximum of 81mm that all of the factory prototypes use - excludes chasing high engine speeds, the usual method of making power, and so the bike will have to rely on agility and braking to compete with the other CRTs.

The Gresini CRT machine will receive its first public outing at Jerez on Friday, at the final IRTA test before the season starts at Qatar.

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It makes me wonder if some of the CRT engine builders are increasing the bore on some of these proddy engines then decreasing the stroke(to maintain capacity) to attain more revs and power.

I don't think you'd get anywhere near an 81mm bore on the CBR1000 motor without running out of "meat" on the cylinder walls, but you may be able to get the bore to 78 or 79mm with a coresponding increase in RPM and bring it power wise much closer to motors like the R1, RSV4 which have a 79mm bore standard.

And if anyone can do this for the honda It'll be Ronald Ten Kate

The advantage of a big bore is to run big valves, which would require spacing the guides further apart, which would basically mean machining up a new head from scratch.

But if they are 4s off WSB pace, they might as well just run it in SSt trim...

Pirro must be given a lot of credit for riding an inferior machine in MotoGP. Limited testing time compared to the other CRTs plus knowing the bike is vastly underpowered to boot must weigh heavily on the back of his mind. Honda should have dropped the euros for the team on a 2nd satellite bike. Let J.Rea ride the CRT-Honda to gauge it's development.

Really? Held up by a seat and subframe? And miss out on all that testing? Really, you have to wonder about how serious some of these teams really are ... And yes, I know it's a complicated part, a one-off custom creation, blah blah blah. Hack something together and go test, for god's sake!

According to Superbike Planet, they were 4-5 seconds off WSBK times. How these guys are supposed to make the racing more interesting is beyond me....

Though the Gresini CRT team faces a number of obstacles to their being competitive, I think it is a fraction premature to compare the bike after exactly 1 hour of track time to World Superbike lap records set by riders and bikes who have had both testing and multiple race rounds at the track.

I'm a bit surprised by the performance figures myself. Though it's not always about the peak numbers, a 30hp difference is quite a lot. I would have surely thought that by not being restricted by WSBK rules, Ten-Kate could have come up with a more custom motor. This engine produces no more than what they compete with in SBK. Surely, they could have squeezed another 15hp outta the thing. Go custom head, valve, pistons, rods, and crank if you have to. This is Grand Prix fellas, no one's fooling around here.

I believe that handled properly, CRT machines could have a actual chance of competing with the prototypes. You're gonna need raw horsepower though, even if you only fully use all of it for a few brief seconds while going down Mugello's front straight. Those few seconds are crucial at this very high level. Could we ever effectively put down more than 230hp without electronics to watch our backs? Lot's of people within GP nowadays don't believe so. Still, Loris and Troy man-handling 260hp 990cc Desmo's is fresh in my mind though. No electronics, and nothing more advanced than a ramp type slipper-clutch. Were they effective machines? Hardly. Did they win races though? Oh yes, they most certainly did, and against (arguably) more advanced machines. They had the power. The CRT's don't.

So here is what I say: Give CRT bikes another 100cc's.

My reasoning is simple. Though an 1100cc CRT seems weird at first, it would bridge the gap to prototypes where it mattered most, power. They need just a bit more power to be competitive, and though you technically could get 250hp out of a 1000cc liter-bike engine, it would start getting really expensive which kinda goes against the whole cost-saving point of what I've dubbed the "CRT Experiment." With an 1100cc motor it should be easy enough to get around 240-250hp.

The factories shouldn't mind, knowing that given equal power they still hold a clear advantage because they still have the best electronic packages and the best riders. They can still play with all the R&D and technology they want and keep making those cool machines we all look up to, and admire. Plus, they could always just "turn up the wick" if CRT's start getting too fast.

A 250hp Prototype ridden by Dovi Vs. a 250hp CRT ridden by DePuniet. Sound like fun?

I also agree with David. Cut Mr. Pirro some slack. Twenty laps? That's nothing. He might be really fast when that thing is dialed. Heck, he might even be the next Casey Stoner and we don't even know it yet.

Anything can happen, such is the beauty of racing...

I'm sure engine tuners would love to see how far they can go when pushing a heavily modified production engine, but with the risk for the engine to be claimed for $15k without the gearbox or $20k with the gearbox is not encouraging at all.

I don't think the CRTs will be restricting their engines to $20k worth, they would be far too uncompetitive. What's a WSBK engine worth? Has to be more than $20k, and we're looking to get more power out of an engine that costs less? Bit of an ask there. I think the CRTs have just accepted the risk that the factories may claim, and factored what this would cost them into their year's costs.

Personally I believe the figure is set too low, it should be set at say $50k and the factories limited to one claim per year. Maybe set it to what a competitive WSBK engine costs?

$20,000 should be enough to make a 250hp superbike engine package, given 1100cc's of displacement to work with. Since they can only claim the engine and gearbox (not the electronics) it comes out around the same. I also believe there are specific rules that state how many times during a season you can claim a team's engine, amongst other things.