The claiming rule team (CRT) bikes are both figuratively and literally under the spotlight at Qatar this race weekend, with their production-based motors and prototype frames shaking up the norm of pure prototype racing. Both an effort to take power away from MotoGP’s MSMA, which is comprised of Ducati, Honda, & Yamaha, and as an effort to lower the cost of racing in MotoGP for its participating teams, the CRT experiment is getting its first real test this weekend.
Swelling MotoGP’s grid with an additional nine-racer entries, the CRTs have certainly helped fill MotoGP’s ranks, though mostly with riders we are not familiar with. Leading the CRT charge is American Colin Edwards, and he is joined by Randy de Puniet, who didn’t wish to be on a CRT for the 2012, but has still found himself at the top of the heap. These two veteran MotoGP riders have been accompanied by seven riders that hail from a range of world and national championships that span everything from Spanish Superbike (CEV) to British Superbike to the Moto2 Championship.
Since on Sunday morning, MotoGP fans are going to have learn the names of these new riders and the bikes they ride, we have put together a primer on the CRT entries for the 2012 MotoGP Championship. Bios, specs, and notes on all nine MotoGP CRT entries are after the jump.
NGM Mobile Forward Racing
Rider: Colin Edwards
Motor: BMW S1000RR
Perhaps one the most developed CRT packages, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s BMW/Suter CRT bike, as its name implies, is comprised of a BMW S1000RR motor and Suter chassis. Originally a hands-off affair for BMW, the German manufacturer has stated that it will increase its role with the CRT project, likely due to Aprilia’s extensive involvement with the Aprilia ART. The move is also likely due to BMW’s increased interest in joining MotoGP.
The chassis of choice in the inaugural Moto2 Championship, Suter has since fallen out of favor in the intermediate class, though perhaps the most talented Moto2 rider, Marc Marquez used it with great success last season. Riding for NGM Mobile Forward Racing is Colin Edwards, a man who needs little introduction. One of the early-adopters of the CRT rule change, Edwards has become the poster boy for Dorna’s CRT experiment. Edwards will race this season with a big target on his back, as he is the CRT rider to beat.
Power Electronics Aspar
Riders: Randy de Puniet & Aleix Espargaro
Motor: Aprilia RSV4
Frame: Aprilia ART
The most popular CRT solution on the grid, the Aprilia ART is a turn-key CRT bike from the Italian manufacturer. Using a WSBK-spec Aprilia RSV4 motor, twin-spar aluminum frame made by Aprilia, and electronics package from Aprilia that began its life on the Aprilia RS3 Cube, the Aprilia ART is also one of the most potent CRT machines this season. In the hands of Jorge ’Aspar’ Martines, one of the most venerable team owners in GP racing, and riders Randy de Puniet & Aleix Espargaro, the Power Electronics Aspar team is a forbidable entry, and the all-CRT squad has a real legitimate chance of embarrassing some prototype teams and riders.
De Puniet of course is coming off a disappointing season with Pramac Ducati, after showing some real promise the season before with LCR Honda. One of the most underrated riders in the GP paddock, de Puniet was on the losing end of MotoGP’s game of musical chairs for riders’ contracts last year. He’ll be joined by former MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro, who spent the 2011 season in Moto2, where he finished 12th for the season.
San Carlo Honda Gresini
Rider: Michele Pirro
Motor: Honda CBR1000RR
The CRT effort with the most intrigue, when top satellite team San Carlo Honda Gresini announced that it wanted to dabble in the CRT waters, HRC pushed back. With the project first thought to be scuttled, perhaps HRC realized that it should ready itself in case the CRT formula became the way of things down the line. Using CBR1000RR motors prepared by the Ten Kate World Superbike team, the Honda factory-backed squad in WSBK, Gresini’s CRT package is rounded out with an FTR chassis. Like the Honda Gresini RC213V, Gresini’s MGP12 CRT is using Showa suspension, while the rest of the grid will be on Öhlins pieces.
Moving up from the Gresini’s Moto2 squad, Michele Pirro is making his first MotoGP debut. The young Italian has an impressive résumé, which includes winning the final Moto2 round last year at Valencia. Though not up to the pace yet of the Aprilia ART or BMW/Suter, the MGP12 CRT bike is one to watch throughout the season, as you can expect upgrades to be made to ensure its competitiveness.
Riders: Ivan Silva & Yonny Hernandez
Motor: Kawasaki ZX-10R
Running as Avintia Blusens in MotoGP, the BQR squad has picked an interesting combination for its CRT effort. The team has continued its partnership with FTR in the premier class, but has chosen to use a Kawasaki ZX-10R power plant as its production-based motor. FTR has become the chassis provider of choice in MotoGP, as the British engineering firm is behind the aluminum twin-spar frame on the Ducati Desmosedici GP12, and has been responsible for many of the frames used by CRT & Moto2 racing teams.
Riding the BQR-FTR for Avintia Blusens are Ivan Silva and Yonny Hernandez. Silva is a former-250GP rider, who until this season had only a couple guests appearances on the MotoGP grid, filling in for the injured Hofmann for three rounds in 2006 and filling again for him in 2007 at the Czech GP. Last season, Silva was the Spanish Stock Extreme Champion. Joining the Spaniard is MotoGP’s first Colombian racer, Yonny Hernández. Coming from the Spanish Supersport series (CEV) in 2009, Hernández spent the last two season in the Moto2 Championship. A mid-pack finisher, Hernández finished 21st in 2010 and 19th in 2011, and had a top finish of 6th place at the 2011 German GP.
Came Ioda Racing Project
Rider: Danilo Petrucci
Motor: Aprilia RSV4
Though Ioda Racing uses an Aprilia RSV4 motor in its CRT bike, the team is not using an Aprilia ART. Said to have a near-stock RSV4 power plant (its trap speeds at Qatar would seem to confirm this), Ioda has also opted to build its own chassis, using a steel-frame design. Riding for the Came Ioda Racing Project is Danilo Petrucci, who was the 2011 Italian Superstock Champion and 2011 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup Runner-Up. Unlikely to get any support from Aprilia, and result that doesn’t see Petrucci at the bottom of the timesheet is a testament to the young Italian’s developing talent.
Rider: Mattia Pasini
Motor: Aprilia RSV4
Frame: Aprilia ART
Another team using the Aprilia ART package, Speed Master is bringing its considerable Moto2 experience with it to MotoGP. The team’s rider, Mattia Pasini, is GP-rider through and through, having risen through the ranks of 125GP, 250GP, and both Moto2 seasons. In 2010, Pasini rode part of the season with the JiR Moto2 team, then after Assen picked up one-off rides for two more races that season. In 2011, the Italian rider joined up with the Ioda Racing squad, and finished 24th in the Championship. As their package comes together, Speed Master could be another top contender in the CRT field.
Paul Bird Motorsport
Rider: James Ellison
Motor: Aprilia RSV
Frame: Aprilia ART
After losing its status as Kawasaki’s factory team in World Superbike, Paul Bird Motorsports has come over to the dark side of MotoGP. Choosing the Aprilia ART for its machine, the British team has British rider James Ellison at the helm of its ART. Ellison competed partially in MotoGP during the 2004 season, and was signed to the WCM MotoGP team in 2005. In 2006 he rode for Tech 3 Yamaha, and holds the distinction of being the first rider to switch bikes mid-race in MotoGP. Moving to the AMA after MotoGP, Ellison has spent the last four seasons racing in the British Superbike Championship.
Photos: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved