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 GPOne.com 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.