Testing continued at Jerez again on Thursday, with mixture of MotoGP, Moto2 and WSBK machines all sharing the track, together with something of a hybrid, Aprilia running its RSV4 World Superbike machine at the circuit fitted with Bridgestone tires and carbon brakes. With Randy de Puniet now aboard - and inching ever closer to agreeing a contract to race the Aprilia for Aspar in MotoGP - the Aprilia was the fastest bike on track, posting a time of 1'41.5, which is within striking distance of the factory prototypes from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
The weather in Jerez for the private test for a number of Moto2, MotoGP and WSBK teams looks like more than making up for the washed out test at Valencia last week, with the first day of testing taking place under blue skies and warm temperatures, conditions which look set to stay all week. The day saw a variety of bikes taking to the track, with Ducati's test team, a handful of top Moto2 teams, and another sprinkling of MotoGP CRT machines running alongside the BMW World Superbike squad.
The sun is shining and the bikes are out on track at Jerez for three days of testing.
The introduction of the Claiming Rule Teams has caused a massive wave of confusion among MotoGP fans, and left then with a host of questions. Below, we attempt to answer most of the questions that race fans have about this new category of bikes, as well as addressing how it came to be created in the first place.
What on earth is a CRT?
Crescent Suzuki finally announced their full line up in World Superbikes for 2012, issuing a press release confirming the addition of John Hopkins to the team, to be racing alongside Leon Camier. The announcement of Hopkins as rider was no real surprise, and had been expected almost from the moment that Crescent announced their intention of racing in World Superbikes next season.
The Aspar team have today announced that their Moto2 line up is now complete. With the signing of 2010 Moto2 champion Toni Elias to race alongside 2011 125cc champion Nico Terol, Aspar has a full complement of riders to face the 2012 season. Elias had been linked to rides with both Gresini - the team with which he won the inaugural Moto2 championship - and Aspar, and had finally settled on the Spanish squad.
Gino Rea has topped the timesheets on the final day of testing at Valencia, taking advantage of the dry track during the morning session, before the rain came to stop play. The Londoner had been fastest on the previous day, when only a few riders were out on track due to the heavy rain, and having been fastest on the Friday and impressive on Wednesday, Rea looks set to secure a ride in Moto2 next year.
Suzuki has at last confirmed what we have all suspected since the middle of this year, and what veteran journalist Michael Scott reported in GPWeek: The Japanese factory is to pull out of the MotoGP series from 2012. The press release expresses their intention to keep working on their 1000cc MotoGP machine, with a view to returning to the series in 2014.
After a first day of useful testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia, the second day was a complete washout. The day started off wet, the rain getting heavier as the day progressed, severely limiting action on track. Just a handful of riders braved the conditions, including Alessandro Andreozzi, Scott Redding and Johann Zarco. Later in the afternoon, Toni Elias followed suit, the Spaniard taking one of the Aspar Suter's out for a spin as he closed on a deal with the team for 2012.
With the signing of Stefan Bradl to LCR Honda, the total number of confirmed riders in MotoGP has now grown to 16, including 12 on factory prototype machines (traditional MotoGP machines from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati) and 4 CRT entries (cheaper entries, mainly based on production engines).
As reported last week, LCR has finally announced that they have signed the 2011 Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl to race in MotoGP for the team next season. The German has signed a two-year deal with Lucio Cecchinello's LCR squad to race in MotoGP for 2012 and 2013.
The testing limits imposed as a cost-cutting measure in MotoGP have finally been lifted. At the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Valencia, MotoGP's rule-making body dropped the rules limiting testing to non-contracted riders outside of MotoGP's official tests, and allowed contracted riders (e.g. any rider currently racing in MotoGP) to ride the bikes at private tests.
Pol Espargaro was the fastest Moto2 rider out of the box on the first of three days of testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia. The Spaniard, who has switched to join Sito Pons' team for 2012, was two tenths faster than his new teammate Tito Rabat, who rode for the BQR team in 2011. Scott Redding was 3rd fastest, matching the time of Rabat and very pleased with the new bike, the Marc VDS team having switched to Kalex for 2012. Andrea Iannone was the first non-Kalex rider on the timesheets, the Italian also switching chassis, going back to use an FTR chassis for next season.
After the initial leak by Ant West on his Facebook page on Monday, today, the Speed Master team confirmed that the Australian will be racing for the team in MotoGP in 2012. West will be racing as a CRT entry, and using an Aprilia RSV4-powered machine in the class. It is as yet unclear whether this bike will use an FTR chassis, or the chassis which Aprilia is believed to be developing for CRT machinery, based on the RSV4 road bike design.