2012 Jerez CRT Private Test Day 1 - De Puniet Leads As Development Continues For CRT Bikes

Preseason testing is almost on a round-the-clock schedule at the moment: after the World Superbike machines were rolled off the track and into the garages at the end of day 1 of the official WSBK test, garage doors at Jerez, on the other side of the world, were flung open, and the MotoGP CRT teams rolled onto the track for the first day of a three-day test at the Spanish circuit.

The second CRT test is an all-Aprilia affair, with Aspar's Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro continuing the development of the ART machine, Mattia Pasini getting his second run out on the Speed Master Aprilia ART, and Danilo Petrucci taking the trellis-framed IODA Aprilia out in the afternoon. James Ellison was also at the circuit, but got no further than sitting on the bike, as the team took delivery of their ART machine and spent the first day setting it up properly. As he has been so far throughout the CRT tests, De Puniet was the fastest man on the day, a full second quicker than his teammate Aleix Espargaro, though the Spaniard was also slowed up by the flu. Pasini ended the day 1.7 seconds off the time of De Puniet, while Danilo Petrucci made a solid start on his MotoGP debut by matching the pace of Pasini.

If there were any worries over the legality of the Aprilia ART before, with accusations that the bike was just WSBK-spec Aprilia RSV4 in disguise, the transformation which the bike has undergone should remove any doubts. Aprilia brought a modified, lighter chassis and a new swingarm for the Aspar team to test at Jerez, as work continues to modify the basic RSV4 to cope with the Bridgestone tires and carbon brakes. The new chassis is an important step forward, Gino Borsoi told MotoGP.com, and having the 2012 Bridgestone tires at their disposal helped, the 2011 spec tires needing a much more particular setup to get them to work.

De Puniet pronounced himself a little disappointed with the times he posted, half a second slower than the time he set in November he said - an interesting statement, given that the times released by the team were just a tenth of a second off De Puniet's November times. The Frenchman worked a lot on getting comfortable on the bike, yet to find a position he is completely happy with. Like Pasini and Espargaro, De Puniet was looking forward to Tuesday, when the satellite Ducatis are due to take to the track in the hands of Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera. Those bikes will provide a real reference point for the CRT bikes to aim at, and a measure of where they stand.

The Jerez test also saw the debut of a brand new bike: Danilo Petrucci took the Aprilia-based IODA CRT machine on to the track for the first time. The bike houses an Aprilia RSV4 engine in a steel trellis frame designed and built by Giampiero Sacchi's engineers, and Petrucci pronounced the chassis a success. The Italian former Superstock rider immediately took a second off the time he set on the standard Aprilia RSV4 chassis he tested in the early part of the afternoon. Given that the team is using an RSV4 engine in Superstock form, according to Petrucci, and is 20hp down on the other Aprilias, matching the pace of Pasini should be considered a success. Petrucci was a little disappointed by his position on the timesheets, remarking tersely on his Twitter page that the other riders' lap times appeared to have dropped in the time between the flag falling for the end of the day and the point at which the timesheets were drawn up.

Also at the circuit was the Ducati test team, with Franco Battaini testing the satellite-spec GP12 (or GPZero) against an old version of the bike, using the aluminium version of the subframe as used by Valentino Rossi during the latter part of the 2011 season, from Aragon onwards. The objective was apparently to gather data on the old chassis and the satellite chassis, for more input in the continuing development of the GP12.

Tomorrow, testing duties on the satellite Ducati will be taken over by Karel Abraham, with Hector Barbera then continuing on Wednesday. James Ellison will also make his debut on the PBM Aprilia ART bike, the British rider making a return to MotoGP after an absence of 5 years.

Unofficial times, provided by the teams courtesy of MotoGP.com:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Previous
1 Randy De Puniet ART 1:41.6    
2 Aleix Espargaró ART 1:42.6 1.0 1.0
3 Mattia Pasini ART 1:43.3 1.7 0.7
4 Danilo Petrucci IODA 1:43.3 1.7 0.0

Jerez MotoGP race lap record: 2010, Dani Pedrosa - 1:39.731
Fastest lap at previous CRT test at Jerez at the end of November: Randy de Puniet, 1:41.5

2012
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Comments

that Ducati are "evaluating" and old version of the GP12 chassis alongside the full ally framed bike. Wonder what they are hoping to learn. Perhaps the full ally frame has not been the sucess they were hoping for, or why test something that was supposedly consigned to the bin at the back of the workshop?