2012 Jerez CRT Private Test Day 3 - De Puniet Hot On Tail Of Satellite Ducati

The final day of testing at Jerez for the CRT machines saw them claim their place as fully-fledged MotoGP machines. Randy de Puniet ended the day as the fastest of the Aprilia ART machines, finishing with a best time of 1:40.3, just three tenths behind Hector Barbera on the satellite Ducati - still basically the GP Zero which was tested at Valencia, and developed over the winter - and perhaps more significantly, right around the pace the satellite bikes were setting at Jerez in 2011, at just the bike's third test. Jerez confirmed that the CRT concept can work - at least, for bikes with an Aprilia engine and electronics.

De Puniet was impressed after the three-day test, at the progress made on the bike and at the potential the bike has. The Frenchman had not expected to be running low 1:40 laps, but the improvements the Aspar team had found in the electronics and suspension settings had helped a lot. Some of the issues with rear grip had been solved, but the chatter the bike suffered with the 2012 Bridgestone tires remained. De Puniet was also pleased to be able to tag onto the back of Hector Barbera on the satellite Ducati, and get a feel for where the CRT bikes stand with respect to the factory prototypes. The Aprilia was plenty fast in the corners, De Puniet opined to MotoGP.com, but they were down on power, meaning that though it was possible to post fast lap times, overtaking any satellite bikes they encountered would be difficult. With more work on the electronics, he hoped they would be able to find more power. That, he said, was the major weakness of the bike, being down on power on the prototypes. Work to improve that would continue at Aragon in just over a week time, and with a new seat unit coming to give him a better position on the bike, De Puniet was confident of taking a few more tenths off the lap times of the bikes.

If De Puniet was happy, his Aspar teammate was positively radiant. Aleix Espargaro had lost most of the first two days to illness, but had made much more progress on the final day of the test. His aim before the test was to leave Jerez with a low 1'42, so to manage to lap in the low 1'41s made him very happy indeed. The one problem which he still faced was grip with the hard tires, but given that they were managing to put a lot of laps on the soft tires, that was not a matter of immediate concern.

Aspar team manager Gino Borsoi was also very happy with the progress made. The team now understood the bike much better, including the new chassis and the 2012 Bridgestone tires. They had worked through a lot of modification to setup, and worked well in improving the electronics. Overall, the bike was much more competitive than everyone had expected, the Aspar manager added, telling MotoGP.com "CRT is not so far back as people said." They would only really know where they stood at the IRTA test in Jerez, once the CRT bikes and factory prototypes were on track together.


But for all of the CRT riders at the Jerez test, the objective was the same: to be the fastest of the CRT bikes, and to try to catch the slower satellite machines. Speed Master's Mattia Pasini felt that he too was in the running to be fastest CRT, and was happy with the amount of progress being made. Taking a second off his best time every day left him ahead of his target, and pleased at the changes being made. He was adapting his riding style to the MotoGP machines, and learning his way around the electronics. Compared to Moto2, the bikes were "a lot more extreme," he told MotoGP.com, adding that getting the bike right was "70% electronics setup".

Pasini's compatriot Danilo Petrucci was similarly impressed at the pace of progress, especially given the current state of development of the IODA bike. IODA's MotoGP program started just one month ago, Petrucci told MotoGP.com, and already they were close to the satellite times. The times were even more impressive given that the steel-trellis-framed IODA machine was fitted with an Aprilia RSV4 engine in Superstock trim and steel instead of carbon brakes. But Petrucci did not underestimate the size of the challenge ahead of him. Understanding the Bridgestone tires was difficult, he said, and he needed to change his riding style to cope with the bike. The crashes that Petrucci suffered had held them back too, he said, losing almost an entire day due to damaged bikes. But Petrucci was also looking forward to Aragon, and getting carbon brakes and a better engine fitted to the IODA bike.

James Ellison had also not spent as much time on the bike as he had wanted, as he and his team all needed to get to know and understand the Aprilia ART. Ellison had also ridden the bike with steel brakes, and had noticed a real difference when it came to braking markers. But most of all, Ellison was impressed by the potential of the bike, bettering his times every single time he left the pits, and learning a lot by following Randy de Puniet around. Where Petrucci had struggled with the Bridgestones, Ellison had been surprised by the massive amounts of grip on offer. That, he conceded, was perhaps because he was still a little way off the pace, and he was looking forward to becoming fast enough to start facing the problems that the other riders were reporting.

The man that the CRT bikes spent all day chasing was Hector Barbera, the Pramac Ducati rider getting a good long session on the bike currently being called the GP Zero, the aluminium twin-spar chassis which Barbera and the other Ducati riders had tested at Valencia, and which had seen some development over the winter, though not as much as the GP12 ridden by factory Ducati men Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. The bike Barbera was testing was the same as the one he had ridden at Sepang, Barbera said, but with some electronic updates to help improve the bike. Barbera was happiest at having another day on the bike before heading back to Sepang for the second MotoGP test, and was glad to have improved on the time that he set here during the race weekend back in April of 2011. 

Barbera - and Karel Abraham yesterday - was on the track because of the absence of Nicky Hayden. The Ducati test team had booked the track for Hayden to spend more time on the GP12, but with the American opting to have surgery to fix his shoulder, he was not fit enough to ride this week. So instead, Ducati Corse chief Filippo Preziosi said, they had offered the time to the satellite riders instead, to give them a chance to spend a little more time on the bike. Regular tester Franco "Iron Frank" Battaini was also at the track, and he had spent his time working on electronics strategies, Preziosi said. Despite having ridden the satellite machine and an older version of the bike - the post-Aragon machine with an aluminium subframe, but still using the basic monocoque design - the strategies found were usable on the factory machines of Rossi and Hayden, and would be tested further by the Factory duo at Sepang.

The CRT teams now head home, to work on the data gathered during the test. They now have to wait until March 8th, when the CRT machines will assemble at the Aragon track for the final separate CRT test. After that, their next appointment is back in Jerez, at the official IRTA test, on the 23rd to the 25th of March. There the CRT bikes will face the full MotoGP field, and we will see where they truly stand against the factory prototypes. On the evidence presented so far, they could upset a few satellite bikes sooner rather than later.

Unofficial times as reported by the teams to MotoGP.com:

Pos Rider Bike Time Diff Previous
1 Hector Barbera Ducati Satellite 1:40.00    
2 Randy De Puniet ART 1:40.30 0.3 0.3
3 Aleix Espargaró ART 1:41.10 1.1 0.8
4 Mattia Pasini ART 1:41.29 1.3 0.2
5 Danilo Petrucci IODA 1:41.60 1.6 0.3
6 James Ellison ART 1:42.40 2.4 0.8

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


Improvement over duration of test:

Pos Rider Bike Day 1-2 Day 3 Improvement
1 Randy De Puniet ART 1:41.6 1:40.30 1.3
2 Aleix Espargaró ART 1:42.6 1:41.10 1.5
3 Mattia Pasini ART 1:43.3 1:41.29 2.0
4 Danilo Petrucci IODA 1:43.3 1:41.60 1.7
5 James Ellison ART 1:44.4 1:42.40 2.0


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Great result for De Puniet and with a dozen engines to burn Aprilia should be able to afford to boost the power output at the expense of longevity - assuming they are currently running a relatively conservative state of tune, which they probably are while sorting chassis dynamics, adjusting to the tyre etc.

It's impressive for them to be so relatively close to a MotoGP bike, with a good amount of time left before the start of the season, which I'm eagerly anticipating.

Fantastic to see the Aprilias showing some speed though we still don't know much until they are on the track with works bikes at the same time.
A possible benefit of pressure from CRT bikes on the Satellite ones is that Honda, Yamaha and Ducati may be tempted to reduce the gap between the Works and the Satellite prototypes to ensure that their prototypes don't finish behind CRT bikes. This might give us closer racing near the front.

That would be an ideal unanticipated result. If you give the Satellite guys a chance at an upset of a position or two it makes for some really good racing.

It was a private test. I believe they were handing out their times only if they felt like it, as there was no official timing. From experience of Presiozi, and Rossi and JB there is no way they would have been straight up and told everyone what their pace is especially in comparison to the crts..... I am inclined to take it with a pinch of salt..
Will Randy be at Sepang?, if it's a matter of funds it would do dorna no harm to sponsor such an addition to the test..

I understand the European testing for CRT's was to assist them with catch up quick. Right now its going in the right direction for them. The acid test of course will be the Qatar test.
I've warmed to CRT though. Man, I want to enjoy a few pipe dream upsets this season,particularly the Ioda,pipe frame Aprilia experiment.

You guys are so excited about RDP CRT bike... guys its a factory works bike from Aprilia. The baramoter is the true CRT bikes. The IoDa bike and other CRT bikes are true CRT. Its laughable that the Aprilia is pulling this off, as the tone in the paddock was and is its a works bike. :fact

It will prove expensive for Aprilia if they are using prototype engines in their frames, the prototype teams can 'claim' them at any race... for a fraction of the build cost.

A lot of the guys on CRT guys are rookies (or in Espargaro's case, a MotoGP dropout). And as we go on, it becomes clearer that many of the lap time decrepancies have a great deal more to do with rider than bike.

During several interviews this has been mentioned. And almost all of them pegged RDP as a candidate who is going to do well on a CRT. And here we are now: RDP laying down a 1.40 on a 1.39.some odd track.

I dont think this means that CRT is a huge success (yet), but give some credit where it is due.

I totally agree that Depuniet's Aprilia is definitely a factory prototype with a highly evolved superbike based engine. I wouldn't be surprised if Dorna gave Aprilia a heads up about the CRT project years ago, hence the RSV4 and everyone calling it a SuperGPbike. But I think that's fantastic and if it's a direct path to get Aprilia back into MotoGP then CRT might be a pretty damn good idea. Hopefully BMW will do the same.

Good to see RDP getting faster on the ART bike, and sounding happy with the bikes development. I suspect he will be fighting with the tail ender prototypes, and indeed beating a few of them on many tracks.
As for the other CRTs, although early days, i do not hold so much hope for, especially the non Aprilia bikes.
Although i don't know if RDP put in his fastest lap when following Hector Barbera
normally its the other way round with HB getting a tow from a faster rider to put a impressive lap in !
Although most interesting, and the Jerez test in March with all the riders on track even more so, the real test will be on April the 8th at Qatar when the lights go out on the grid. As some riders have said in the past, " That's when the Bullshit ends "

Is it possible that the currrent direction of the prototypes has run its course?

1. They are incredibly expensive dominated by a small number of large factories.
2. They do not offer opportunity to under funded riders (with talent, as there is a limited number of competitive bikes).
3. True innovation seems lacking (e.g. an Aluminium framed Duke? carbon fibre monoque was much more interesting, the same frame formula now for all the top bikes?).
4. Small fields were getting smaller.

If Suzuki, Kawasaki, Aprilia had lined up with two rider works teams, and the satelites could actually win a race or two per season, then the class would still be viable, but its not happening and its over.

The same chorus of 'it'll never work' was heard when they removed the old two strokes and yet the sensational roar of the thundering 1000s changed that tune.

By placing affordability back in the hands of most teams, then just maybe, and if we're terribly lucky, we may just see this sort of thing happen again and change the rules forever. Bring on the CRTs! Dorna is doing what it must.


Yes they are incredibly expensive, but that money will buy you victories. I do not see any CRT bike getting within 2 seconds of Stoner's pace this year. 2 seconds per lap is defenitely worth the price tag.

Firstly, it will not buy you anything at all, you only rent it. Secondly, barring some weird wet/dry race, that money will not rent you victories. What it rents you is a bike which is programmed to go just a little bit slower than the proper factory bikes.

Does anybody really think that, even if the prototype class ceased to exist, there wouldn't be factories throwing money at the racing and creating different classes of support? And we are kidding ourselves if we think that the "under-funded" riders will start winning. Look at MotoGP and ask yourselves when was the last time an "under-funded" rider won a GP (wet races excluded), let alone a championship.
I can't see anything other than a shift in the types of bike being raced, and even if they go to control engine/control ECU/control brakes etc, the factories and their greater resources will win out.
Of course, they could set all the bikes up the same and ballot them before practice, and seal engines etc to try to create an homogenous competition, but even then the factories would win out because they can pay the best techos and support staff and engineers.
Alternatively, they could chase the factories out of the sport, and leave it to the hobbyists and garden-shed engineers and the like. But I wouldn't know about it because I would have quit watching or following the sport (business?) way before it got to that point.......

Ezpeleta should look around and understand that the problems are largely not with the structure of the premier class. There's been a global financial crisis and their European market is basically fucked. They should leave things alone, take their lumps, and know that what has served them well so far can into the future, provided the EuroZone doesn't collapse.