Likely to be marked as the start of significant chapter in MotoGP history, the claiming rule teams (CRTs) were out in Jerez the past three days testing their MotoGP machinery, which is comprised of production-motorcycle motors with custom-built chassis. While not the first time we’ve seen a CRT bike on the track, the outing was the first time that a”top-tier” rider was on-board the new racing format motorcycles, as Colin Edwards lead the charge with his BMW/Suter machine with NGM Forward Racing.
Many in the MotoGP paddock have been waiting to cast their verdict on the CRT endeavor, withholding their judgments until a top GP rider took to the helm of a CRT machine and properly put the bike through its paces. With tests earlier in the year showing Mika Kallio on-board the BMW/Suter to be over six seconds off the pace of the 800cc-era machines, the CRT future of MotoGP looked to be in jeopardy. Those lap times improved over the year to be “only” four seconds off that 1,000-era bike pace, showing improvement, yet a gap to the front-runners.
Now with Edwards finally swinging a leg over the BMW S1000RR-powered Suter prototype, surely more comparisons between the factory prototypes and CRT offerings are to ensue. Posting a best lap time of 1’40.188 at the Spanish GP earlier this year, Edwards was roughly 2.5 seconds off his own pace, finishing the three-day test with a best lap to f 1’42.6. That news seems discouraging on its face, though it should be noted that the team dropped 1.3 seconds between Wednesday and Thursday’s tests.
Edwards also rated the bike at about 65% of its potential, while the Texan’s own fitness was questionable, as Edwards was till recovering from the injuries he sustained at the Malaysian GP. WIth all those caveat, does this week’s test equate to excuses for a lackluster performance, or justify that more leaps and gains will be made before the start of the 2012 MotoGP Championship?
“Overall, it is better than I thought it would be, the potential is there. I think we are at about 65 percent right now,” said NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards. “The chassis is set up, but the main thing is the electronics and getting the whole package to come together. With the electronics, every time we make a little change and make it better, everything just gets a little smoother and easier.”
“The bike reminds me a lot of 2003 when I went to Aprilia,” Edwards continued. “It’s got a screamer engine, lots of torque, somebody built the chassis, someone put an engine it, and it came a long way through the year. It was one of the first bikes with ride by wire and all the electronics. It reminds me a lot of that. But I know what I need, I know what I am looking for, I know what want, I know how to make the bike go faster, so the main thing now is just don’t lose focus and keep going down the right path.”
“I came here and I would have been happy with just yesterday’s times, being injured and all, but I did a ‘42.6 today, which is a little better than a second faster. I’m reasonably happy with that,” finished Edwards.
A second off the Moto2 bikes he was sharing the track with at the Jerez testing sessions, Edwards’ outing on NGM Forward Racing’s BMW/Suter machine is at best a mixed bag of good and bad news. It’ll be interesting to watch over the winter how the CRT effort progresses, not just with the BMW/Suter, but with all the CRT entries. With claiming rule teams seemingly the future of MotoGP, what that future will be now becomes the question on everyone’s mind.
Unofficial Best Lap Times from MotoGP/Moto2 Winter Testing at Jerez:
Randy de Puniet (Aprilia) 1’41”5 (WSBK Bridgestone Tires)
Colin Edwards (Suter-BMW) 1’42″6 (MotoGP)
Scott Redding (Kalex) 1’42″9 (Moto2)
Pol Espargaró (Kalex) 1’43″0 (Moto2)
Tito Rabat (Kalex) 1’43″3 (Moto2)
Iván Silva (FTR-Kawasaki) 1’43″5 (MotoGP)
Mika Kallio (Kalex) 1’43″5 (Moto2)
Bradley Smith (Tech3) 1’43″6 (Moto2)
Gino Rea (Moriwaki) 1’43″8 (Moto2)
Alex De Angelis (Suter) 1’43″9 (Moto2)
Yonny Hernández (FTR-Kawasaki) 1’44″0 (MotoGP)
Yuki Takahashi (Suter) 1’44″2 (Moto2)
Axel Pons (Kalex) 1’44″7 (Moto2)
Toni Elías (Suter) 1’44″7 (Moto2)
Nico Terol (Suter) 1’44″9 (Moto2)
Xavier Simeon (Tech3) 1’45”0 (Moto2)