The Power Electronics Aspar Team confirmed today that they extended the contracts of current riders Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro for the 2013 season. Both the Frenchman and the Spaniard are to remain with Aspar for another year, and will once again contest the season on Aprilia-built ART machines under the Claiming Rule Team regulations. The two teammates are currently battling it out to take the honors as top CRT rider for 2012.
The Aspar team has been the showcase for the CRT rules this season, with both De Puniet and Espargaro closing the gap on the prototype bikes. How the team will fare next year when most of the other CRT bikes will start to use the highly advanced Magneti Marelli ECU, while they stick with Aprilia's electronics package developed in World Superbikes remains to be seen, and will provide a good yardstick by which to measure the spec ECU on offer.
With the prototype rides all filling up quickly, remaining with Aspar was the best option for both men. With a year of development on them, the Aprilia CRT bikes should be even closer to the prototypes next year, allowing De Puniet and Espargaro to put themselves in the shop window for the 2014 season, when Suzuki make a return to MotoGP, and more factory rides should be available.
Below is the press release from the Aspar team announcing the re-signing of their current riders:
POWER ELECTRONICS ASPAR TEAM CONFIRM DE PUNIET AND ESPARGARÓ FOR 2013
New deals agreed with Frenchman and Spaniard during recent Aragón GP
A magnificent season of results for the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team and its two riders Randy De Puniet and Aleix Espargaró has led to a new one-year agreement between all parties. The new MotoGP concept of CRT racing is only a year old but the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team is already the standard bearer. Despite scepticism from some quarters surrounding the new regulations the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team embraced them and moved quickly to secure the best material and the best riders, blending the experience of Randy De Puniet with the youth of Aleix Espargaró on board ART machines.
With fourteen rounds gone the decision taken by the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team has proven to be the right one, with the Frenchman having led the CRT pack home on five occasions and the Spaniard on six. The pair have locked out the top two CRT positions in the championship, making it an easy decision for the Spanish team to move for an extension of both of their contracts through 2013. The objective, clearly, is to carry on their dominance from this season and to continue to develop the ART machine.
Jorge Martínez 'Aspar': "We are delighted to be able to confirm both Aleix Espargaró and Randy De Puniet for next season. Aleix started the season a little behind Randy but with the right system and a lot of hard work he is now at an outstanding level, both in terms of the technical aspect and his riding. He has improved a lot and we are all very happy with that. All I am asking him is to keep going like this because I think he has the potential to continue developing and growing in the future. Randy is having a very strong season. Thanks also to him the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team is the reference point in the new concept of MotoGP. Randy has proven his expertise at MotoGP level and every other category he has raced in and I am very happy to continue with such a solid project. I hope that with these two riders in place the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team can continue to move forward."
Randy De Puniet: "I am very happy to extend my contract with the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team. Even though the season is not yet over it has been a positive one for us and the best option for my future career is to stay where I am. Over the course of the year I have managed to develop an almost perfect understanding with my engineers, which is something very important, especially looking towards next year. I hope we can be just as competitive next season, which will be another year of preparation and experience for 2014 when the major rule changes take place."
Aleix Espargaró: "When I signed with 'Aspar' for the 2012 season there were a lot of unknowns and the CRT project was completely new. Even so I knew I was signing for a team that would have the best available material and the best technical staff. Now, fourteen races later, I can confirm that I was absolutely right. I have learnt a lot this season and both Jorge and I myself are very happy. We are fighting to be the best at what we do in every race and with four races remaining I have a chance to finish the year as the top CRT. After such a great season with this team the most logical thing is for us to continue together and for me to enjoy the stability it brings me personally."