Second Day Of Valencia Moto2 Test A Washout: No Times, But Some Intrigue And Gossip

After a first day of useful testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia, the second day was a complete washout. The day started off wet, the rain getting heavier as the day progressed, severely limiting action on track. Just a handful of riders braved the conditions, including Alessandro Andreozzi, Scott Redding and Johann Zarco. Later in the afternoon, Toni Elias followed suit, the Spaniard taking one of the Aspar Suter's out for a spin as he closed on a deal with the team for 2012. Aspar already has Aleix Espargaro and Nico Terol signed, but Espargaro looks like being promoted to ride a CRT Aprilia in MotoGP for the team, making way for Elias to take the Moto2 ride. Contracts are expected to be signed in the next couple of days.

The Elias saga was not the only intrigue going on in the paddock. More contracts were signed and riders announced, with Yuki Takahashi signing for Forward Racing for 2012 to race alongside Alex de Angelis. But most of the speculation centered around the Aprilia garage, where Alex Hofmann had been testing the Aprilia RSV4 on Bridgestones the day before. Hofmann is reported to have set a 1'37.1 on the Bridgestone tires, 2 seconds slower than his time on WSBK-spec Pirellis, the German apparently complaining he was finding it hard to get heat into the tires. That should hardly be surprising, given the Bridgestones' unforgiving nature and exceptionally stiff carcass, and Hofmann had been hoping to improve his times today, though he found himself thwarted by the weather.

The aim is not lap times, however. The aim is to gain the data necessary to build a special chassis for the Aprilia to sell to the CRT entries. The chassis used in WSBK is both illegal (having been homologated for use in World Superbikes) and unsuited to the much stiffer carcass of the Bridgestones, even the slightly softer 2012 tires. Aprilia are therefore designing a chassis with revised stiffness to cope with the different loads. Aprilia's technical director Gigi Dall'Igna told that contracts were yet to be signed, but that they expected to have five machines on the grid next season. The fact that Aprilia are building the chassis is much to the chagrin of the Moto2 chassis builders, who had hoped to gain more business in MotoGP, but the teams are more likely to go with the safer option of taking a complete package from Aprilia. And the fact that the CRT entries are leasing a complete bike from Aprilia does not mean that they will automatically be entered as factory prototypes, and subject to the same rules as the satellite Honda, Yamaha and Ducati teams. The Grand Prix Commission confers CRT status on a team regardless of the bike they are racing, and may take it away as they see fit. As long as the GPC believes the teams are not receiving factory-level support, the teams will retain their CRT status.

There was plenty of gossip surrounding Randy de Puniet as well. The Frenchman is also being linked to a CRT ride in MotoGP, most probably with the Aspar team. Italian media reports have De Puniet riding the bike in Valencia, but confirmation has not been forthcoming that De Puniet actually lapped on the RSV4. With De Puniet also being linked to a role as Ducati test rider, the Frenchman's options appear to be multiplying since losing the possibility of a Suzuki ride with the withdrawal of the Japanese factory.

Testing is due to continue tomorrow, but the weather is looking as tricky on Friday as it was on Thursday, so the final day of testing looks like also being a washout. The Moto2 riders will be hoping the weather holds off.

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In reference to the frames from Aprilia, I hope the word "leasing" is not correct David. Here Dorna (or whoever is responsible) should put their foot down and say that all CRT bikes should be owned outright. The lack of trickle-down of older machinery is what ultimately got us to the point we're at now. If all the CRT bikes are recalled and crushed at the end of each season it'll only be a couple of years before the whole series is owned by a couple of manufacturers again. Look at how Moto2 changed in just 2 years.

For that matter, are Moto2 chassis' leased or owned? Methinks people are not learning from history.


Ezpeleta said in a very recent and interesting interview (well worth a read):

"(A CRT costs) around one million euros to race all year, with the advantage that the bike will be the team’s property. Right now a factory bike costs three million and has to be returned so that they can then give you another one, which isn’t much better, for another three million. That’s a scam and it’s over. They’ve been squeezing and squeezing until the end."

EDIT: here's an english translated version of that enterview:

Here's the original interview in Spanish:

If Aprilia is now going to fabricate a CRT racebike "officially", building a complete package with the intent to lease that to private teams, then it simply makes any of Dorna's CRT initial arguments contradictory (for the least, IMHO), blatantly so according to that interview of Ezpeleta.

But if Aprilia is going to SELL those bikes... now that would be something more in consonance to what Ezpeleta has said and, in that case, this could also represent big news for other manufacturers!

If Aprilia lease these complete 'race only' machines, then the battle is already lost in terms of cost reduction.

Similarly, if the chassis builders won't allow teams to do as they wish with the chassis they provide, then CRTs lose the potential for cunning engineering to give them a competitive edge, which would be a HUGE blow to the sport.

Plus one to this. Big part of the MotoGP problem is a lack of an efficient internal economy. I.e. there isn't enough competition for resources. Indeed, there's almost NO competition - nearly all resources are bound together monolithically, with just a few single entities controlling almost everything from significant numbers of the riders on the grid, to chassis & engine. To introduce competition requires breaking stuff and separating things, making a number of chassis manufacturers compete for the same or a greater number of team customers, engine suppliers compete for chassis manufacturers, etc.. Allowing machinery to easily be bought & sold, from supplier to team or team to team, is a critical part of that. MotoGP needs to ban any anti-competitive practices that try prevent machinery from being sold on.

I want a MotoGP with a diverse number of manufacturers, from traditional bike manufacturers to specialist chassis and/or motor engineering companies, a diverse number of tyre makers (get rid of the one tyre rule, arg!), and an even more diverse array of teams and riders, who then have a good choice of what equipment to use, without being too constrained by far-off factory politics.

Unless these bikes are available to buy and sell, there is no way the various domestic championships can start to include classes for these bikes.

We're now starting to see a few Moto2 'customer bikes' appearing, but we'd need a similar move in MotoGP to create a market for the bikes. These could then be entered in various 'Open' racing classes domestically, with the hope of creating 'proper' classes for these machine in the future.

If it isn't clear, my argument that monolithism is a significant factor in MotoGP's problems today and that separation of entities is needed to fix this, then implies that teams and manufacturers must be kept separate. I.e. factories should be banned from running or owning teams - perhaps even from sponsoring them (at least, from sponsoring any team unequally over another).

I can understand why Suter is not keen on teams modifying their own chassis. Besides selling you the chassis Suter also sells you a support package. It would be very hard for Suter to support a team on items or changes Suter themselves did not make.

I guess it depends on what you buy... if you want support, there's not much point modifying it yourself. If you believe you can do better, you wouldn't take the support contract.

However the reason Suter got away with so much was because of the superstition that his bikes must be much better 'cos a) one of them won last year; b) they cost more.

No wonder he was so keen to throw whatever it took at Marquez to get the title... it might even have worked if not for some bad marshalling/track management in Malaysia.

So last year Bradl won on a Kalex and fastest Suter yesterday was 5th. His business model may have collapsed.

I wonder about this need to make the frames stiffer to deal with the Bridgestones.

Consider the difference in times between WSB and MotoGP... it's a bit tricky this year because of the crap weather, but it looks to me to be of the order of 2%. I think it's reasonable to suppose that a MotoGP bike is at least 2% faster in acceleration and top speed.... so if it is also 2% faster in the corners, that would more than explain the difference (if you can enter the corner faster, automatically you gain in braking).
Now lateral load is mv²/r, so to carry 2% more corner speed you need 4% more grip, ie 4% more lateral loading of the frame.

Are we really supposed to believe that a new frame design is needed to withstand 4% higher loads (which, btw, are at least partly present in WSB when they run qualifiers)? Are production frames optimised that closely to the Pirellis?

And do frame designers really know how to design a frame that gets more heat into tyres? If they do, they obviously weren't working at Yamaha in 2006, or in Bologna any time recently. Or in Switzerland, since initial CRT frames don't seem to have been any better than a stock BMW part, for eg.

Or is all just voodoo belief and marketing BS?

You're approaching a subject that can be touchy (and interesting!), I think that's actually a great point!

The only problem is that, at least with these rules, you can not use a chassis from a stock production bike in GP, nor from SBK, so we may never know the real truth on that.

Common sense would say that 4% is not enough of a difference to warrant an entirely new chassis. I wonder if they'll release more lap times once they get the riding position, suspension, etc. dialed in. I hope so because the Bridgestone "voodoo" is totally confounding to me (as well as Elias).

4% over the course of a race is close to being lapped twice. Ducati is revising chassis and changing entire design philosophies because they are 1% off the pace. So yes, 4% would dictate a new chassis design. Besides the fact that any WSB homogolated frame is not eligible.

Its not so much that the production chassis are designed around the Pirellis than that the GP frames ARE designed around the Bridgestones. The Pirellis slicks seem to be much closer in behavior to street tires and national level slicks than the BS slicks. The BS tires are anomalies and as such so are the chassis designed to maximize their performance.


as they gobble through engines from one year to the next? Or what happens when Aprilia no longer supply parts for these engines as they are not economic to support?

I believe this is where Gigi Dall'Igna is worried about having private teams using Aprilia engines. The potential for them to be tuned to within an 'eenth degree of being combustable, or component life span being exceeded and damaging the reputation of Aprilia is a very valid concern.

In this way, leasing, they can maintain that one step removed support of the series without breeching factory support rules. They're treading a thin line though.

I understand Aprilia's perspective. Dorna has in many ways forced their hand here.

As for hand-me down machines. When has this realistically happened since the mid seventies? Japanese factory machines have always gone to a title winners living room, the factory museum or a skip.

Look at the smaller classes. They always had a stock of owned, customer race bikes of various degrees of sophistication: RS Hondas with A-kits, Yamaha TZ's and TZM's with YEC kits, Aprilia RSW's. Some of them were tuned to the point of exploding... and did so.
It wasn't terminally embarrassing for the manufacturer. Those bikes then worked their way down through national series.

The YZF250 factory bikes Tech 3 ran in 250's in 2000 (1st & 2nd in the title for Jacques & Nakano) were handed down to the Petronas team the next year (although I think a couple of them are now in Guy Coulon's attic).

Also, one of the advantages of buying machines is that you're not obliged to use Aprilia (etc) parts, you can get them made elsewhere. If you think "get them made" sounds expensive, you haven't had a good look at HRC or Aprilia Corse price lists...

Plus, it works in WSBK... Ducati have sold their race bikes, one year behind the factory spec, for years.

The whole idea of using production-derived or production-based engines is that there is a plentiful supply of parts.

I don't think factories can really be worried about POTENTIALLY poor reliability of highly tuned race engines affecting their reputations. If you put a turbo on a Hayabusa drag bike, and it later exploded, would you blame Suzuki?

The factories (past, present or future) should not be allowed to control the activities of true racing teams (Tech3, Aspar, etc) in this way. This is what drives up costs and creates a false economy.

While I agree full factory bikes (title winning or otherwise) rarely see a track in anger again, there are plenty of privateer machines that do. Lots of WSB/BSB machine end up in road racing or Endurance.

>> As for hand-me down machines. When has this realistically happened since the mid seventies? Japanese factory machines have always gone to a title winners living room, the factory museum or a skip. <<

Well, for the premier class, and until late 80's, you would have at least some national and continental championships of 500cc 2-strokes (European champs, for instances), some actually running as wildcards in GP.
This was even done at a time when leasing already had begun, by reusing the mid 80's Suzuki RG500 and Honda NS500 of GP, along with the odd Paton and alikes, all bought and then maintained/modified until those last years.

I can certainly remember Peter Lindén (Sweden) being crowned European champion in 1989, running a patriotic paint in his helmet and in his NS500. :-)

...there are already some Moto2 national championships (Spanish and Italian, for instances), now imagine bringing the premium series back as it was untill the late 80's, now with CRTs!

Actually the Honda RS500 was the production racer (derived from the NS500).
I do believe some RG500 and NS500 factory bikes made it to the hands of privateers in following seasons(?). ...if it was via Japan or not (bought), I have no idea...

What matters in this bit of history for the current situation is this Aprilia "CRT full pack" gossip and what you had in the 80's with those "customer works" bikes (relates somehow).

The Suzuki RG500 Mk series and the Honda RS500 were pretty close to same spec of the previous season factory bikes (obviously, minus the unobtanium) and best solution for many (even used in the IOM-TT, for instances).
By being property of a team, they could be modified, ex: RS500 FIOR (the famous one with the funny front end).

This whole privateer machine thing in the 80s is actually what could (and should?) happen in the long run with CRT.
I'm looking at this Aprilia RSV4 gossip with this supposed base for a "CRT spec full pack" and it could be a nice way to introduce a similar and valid "affordable" solution to privateers as those racebikes were in the 80s. :-)

which he ennunciated some time back, not my invention.

With all due respect the complexities and costs of four strokes far exceed that of the smokers.

Just how long did ROC and Harris last in MotoGP. A hand full of seasons? Paton. The ultimate homespun hero. And every bike gorgeous in green.

I don't doubt the validity of your source, just the validity of Gigi Dall'Igna's arguements in defence of this policy.

Ultimately, I believe that racing is at it's best when it is the business of racing teams; teams who have no other business outside of winning races or, at the very least, building racing only bikes for other teams to win races.

Unfortunately, the simple truth is that the people with the deepest pockets will always win. They can afford the best bikes, the best engineers and the best riders. This model favours factory-backed teams, and the aims of the factories don't always line up with those of the racing teams themselves.

Of course, I don't have an easy cure or cover-all rule to eliminate this, but for now I think bike ownership by CRTs, with the ability to sell on parts as they see fit, is the best 'quick fix' available.

As an aside, shouldn't some idiot have lowered this thread into a slagging match between Stoner and Rossi fans by now? ;o)

Actually ROC were around for quite a while, via the Swissauto V4 ex-sidecar motor. Those bikes and the KR machines had some extended life by running under other colours ... BSL for eg.

However the main reason ROC and Harris had a relatively brief exposure was because Yamaha turned off the engine supply... and neither Honda nor Suzuki would sell or lease engines and of course there were no viable production engine alternatives to start from.

The ill fated (read terminally slow) Buckley Systems Limited 500's out of Auckland N.Z home grown 500 with TZ barrels grafted onto their own bottom end. Another pretty special though.

...but I actually miss those from the 500cc 2-strokes days.
The underdogs, the fully private bikes built from pure ingenuity and small group efforts. :-)
heh... some were a POS in comparison to the front runners, but getting over one would mean new found respect to their riders (2x HP in few RPMs!).

after they gave up on their own bike, they continued for a year with either a KR-3 or a ROC Swiss-auto (or both, can't remember).

Shame about the special itself, but with the same rider it was slower than a modified TZ250...

David, Do you have any cost #'s for the 'electronic' packages for GP, including the 'geeks' that oversee them? What are the 'total' costs for the electronics in Moto GP?

I don't have numbers for this, but the fact that it is costly is borne out by two things: Firstly, every time I ask a press officer if I can talk to the electronics guys ("No, not the data guys") they get a look of terror in their eyes, as if I've just told them that the bomb I have in my pocket is about to go off in 10 seconds. And secondly, the fact that nowadays, satellite bikes come with 2 factory engineers, not one. And their jobs revolve around tweaking the settings on their laptops

Is it electronics specialists like Magneti-Marelli (who seem to supply a few manufacturers, right?) doing most of it or are the factories doing extensive customisation of bought-in packages (from such specialists) or are they doing it all in-house? Or some other mix?

Suppose those two guys are being paid us$150k each (pretty sure you'd already generate a LONG line of applicants for that), it's still a long way from explaining the factor of 10 cost difference between wsbk and mgp, non?

For a million, they ought to be able to get someone who will write a prgram to replace the two engineers :-)

The ECUs have maps up the wazoo for every setting. It takes a lot of track time with test riders to get all these maps in the ballpark so that the factory riders can then tweak the last 1-2%. All of that rough testing the factories do is invisible to us and expensive for satellite/private teams to accomplish. Then any changes to the bike/track/weather/tires/rider's mental state require changes to all these maps to maintain optimum performance.

Also don't forget the travel costs for the technicians too.


I posed this question months ago, and still wonder - how are the CRT's acquiring 6-12 engines per bike? Are they purchasing whole bikes and removing the engine, selling the rest or...? Honda may sell/supply CBR mills for the B side of the Gresini garage, Aprilia may sell engine only or not, sounds like Yamaha won't at this point, is BQR buying whole bikes for the ZX10 engine?
anyone? If a Suter moto2 rolling chassis is 90,000 euros, how is the 1-1.5m euro price tag arrived at for the CRT bike? Is part of this 12 new machines at retail price ?