Lap Times: Prototypes vs. CRT vs. Moto2 at Phillip Island

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For qualifying at Phillip Island, it would be safe to say that the weather conditions were tricky. Cold, cloudy, windy, with at times drops of rain, both MotoGP and Moto2 had to overcome the variable climate at the coastal Australian track.

With three turns clocking well over 200 km/h (~125 mph), Phillip Island is a fast circuit, but not necessarily a circuit dominated by bikes with a lot of horsepower. Instead, rhythm is the name of the game at PI, with the riders who are able to navigate the circuit’s intricacies benefiting the most: cue Casey Stoner.

Almost a full season now into the great CRT experiment, Phillip Island is one of the circuits where the production-motor machines can shine brighter, and none of them shine brighter than Team Aspar’s Aprilia ART.

Embarrassing some prototype machines during Saturday’s sessions, Randy de Puniet will start on the grid Sunday right next to Valentino Rossi, having qualified only 0.006 seconds behind the factory Ducati rider. Behind him will be the other prototype Ducatis, with Aleix Espargaro also in the mix.

The progress of the Aprilia ART is said to be down to Aspar getting a new set of motors from Aprilia Racing for the Australian GP, with those new motors making a sizable step in horsepower (+10hp according to Cal Crutchlow).

With the WSBK-spec Aprilia RSV4 Factory proving to be a potent machine in its own right, MotoGP’s CRT riders are clearly benefiting from getting closer to Aprilia Racing’s capabilities, but what about the Honda-powered 600cc Moto2 machines?

With the top Moto2 bikes dangerously close to the lap times of the slower MotoGP CRT machines at Phillip Island, Pol Espargaro managed to do the unthinkable and best Ivan Silva with his Kalex-chassised Moto2 race bike, with a bevy of other riders within MotoGP’s 107% qualifying cut-off.

In fact, if you let the Moto2 riders on the MotoGP grid, you would have an even 40 bikes for Sunday’s race, while Australia’s Kris McLaren would be forced to watch the race from pit lane, as his Avinta Blusens BQR-FTR wasn’t able to make the cut this afternoon.

While many CRT machines have failed to live up to their potential, the Aspar Aprilia ART does show some signs of hope in the class — though there seems to be a three-fold separation in the series now, with CRT teams being behind on machinery, rider talent, and team budgets/preparedness.

For instance, the NGM Forward team has been languishing pretty much all season with its BMW/Suter race bike, but no one would attribute those results to Colin Edwards’ riding ability and the amount of testing that has gone into the project.

Similar thoughts can be said about the other two teams running the Aprilia ART, as both Speed Master and Paul Bird Motorsports have struggled to get out from the back of the pack, despite being on the preferred CRT package.

With PBM said to have basically done no testing this season, and forced to develop the bike on race weekends, the results are not that surprising. It should not be surprising either that the machines in the Aspar garage are a bit different than the ones found at Speedmaster and PBM, a function perhaps of Team Aspar’s funding situation compared to the other smaller outfits.

With only 12 prototypes on the grid next season, and the CRT grid said to expand, it remains to be seen whether the CRTs can make the gap to true MotoGP performance, though things like a spec-ECU might make the difference, as it will allow the less-funded teams to get a boost in their electronics, while simultaneously hindered the factory prototypes.

All of this just fuels the WSBK vs. MotoGP debate, and what differentiates the two series — especially when back in February, Carlos Checa qualified quicker on his Ducati Superbike 1098R than Rossi did on his Ducati Desmosedici GP12.

Qualifying Results from the Australian GP at Phillip Island, Australia:

Pos. Rider Nation Team Bike KM/H Time Diff.
1 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 335.6 1’29.623
2 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 330.6 1’30.140 0.517
3 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 335.7 1’30.575 0.952
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 332.7 1’30.763 1.140
5 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 337.1 1’30.798 1.175
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 334.7 1’31.200 1.577
7 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 334.9 1’31.490 1.867
8 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 337.4 1’31.661 2.038
9 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 323.6 1’31.667 2.044
10 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 334.4 1’31.681 2.058
11 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 339.6 1’31.910 2.287
12 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 319.8 1’31.990 2.367
13 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 334.1 1’32.231 2.608
14 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 316.8 1’33.050 3.427
15 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda-Suter 315.4 1’33.069 3.446
16 Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 321.7 1’33.450 3.827
17 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 317.4 1’33.489 3.866
18 Roberto ROLFO ITA Speed Master ART 314.0 1’33.577 3.954
19 Pol ESPARGARO SPA Tuenti Movil HP 40 Kalex 281.3 1’33.705 4.082
20 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 313.5 1’34.156 4.533
21 Scott REDDING GBR Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex 282.5 1’34.264 4.641
22 Marc MARQUEZ SPA Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol Suter 280.8 1’34.408 4.785
23 Thomas LUTHI SWI Interwetten-Paddock Suter 281.5 1’34.513 4.89
24 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN Italtrans Racing Team Kalex 277.3 1’34.541 4.918
25 Randy KRUMMENACHER SWI GP Team Switzerland Kalex 290.7 1’34.596 4.973
26 Johann ZARCO FRA JIR Moto2 Motobi 285.1 1’34.696 5.073
27 Andrea IANNONE ITA Speed Master Speed Up 281.5 1’34.714 5.091
28 Anthony WEST AUS QMMF Racing Team Speed Up 278.6 1’34.765 5.142
29 Esteve RABAT SPA Tuenti Movil HP 40 Kalex 283.1 1’34.900 5.277
30 Simone CORSI ITA Came IodaRacing Project FTR 277.6 1’34.973 5.35
31 Dominique AEGERTER SWI Technomag-CIP Suter 284.3 1’35.020 5.397
32 Axel PONS SPA Tuenti Movil HP 40 Kalex 281.7 1’35.052 5.429
33 Mika KALLIO FIN Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex 291.3 1’35.071 5.448
34 Bradley SMITH GBR Tech 3 Racing Tech 3 274.1 1’35.169 5.546
35 Xavier SIMEON BEL Tech 3 Racing Tech 3 276.2 1’35.310 5.687
36 Julian SIMON SPA Blusens Avintia Suter 280.4 1’35.466 5.843
37 Toni ELIAS SPA Italtrans Racing Team Kalex 283.3 1’35.546 5.923
38 Mike DI MEGLIO FRA Kiefer Racing Kalex 281.2 1’35.589 5.966
39 Jordi TORRES SPA Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter 275.9 1’35.609 5.986
40 Ricard CARDUS SPA Arguiñano Racing Team AJR 272.0 1’35.864 6.241
DNQ Kris McLAREN AUS Avintia Blusens BQR 311.6 1’36.324 6.701

Source: MotoGP; Photo: © 2012 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved