Aspar's Dilemma: Gino Borsoi On Aprilia, Honda Or Yamaha For 2014

The Power Electronics Aspar team have seized the opportunity offered by the CRT rules with both hands. By teaming up with Aprilia and employing two talented and fast riders, Aspar has helped turn the RSV4-based ART machine into a genuinely competitive machine, in every respect except for horsepower. At Assen, Aleix Espargaro finished eighth, ahead of two factory Ducatis and three other satellite MotoGP machines. The bike is clearly good.

For 2014, however, Aspar must face a dilemma. With the introduction of the spec electronics system, teams choosing to race the ART bikes will lose the current advantage those machines have, a highly-developed and very effective electronics package. Teams running ART machines must choose, either to accept the Magneti Marelli developed software, and keep 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines, or persuade Aprilia to port their software to the spec Marelli ECU, and try to race with 20 liters of fuel and either 5 or 9 engines, depending on whether the Grand Prix Commission decided Aprilia had already been competing in MotoGP as an MSMA member or not.

The subject is highly sensitive in the Aspar team. When I asked team manager Gino Borsoi about the team's plans for 2014, his first response was to deflect the question with a joke: "I will be on holiday, so I don't know what the team is doing!" More seriously, Borsoi said the team faced some serious decisions ahead of them. 

"We haven't decided yet, right now," Borsoi  said. "We have to study with Aprilia what will be the future of our electronics. And after that, we have a clear situation, we can decide if it's better to stay or move to another project like a Yamaha or Honda." The announcement of the Honda production racer and the option to lease Yamaha engines were options which could steer Aspar away from the Aprilia ART bike, Borsoi admitted. "There are three good projects at the moment. Honda, for sure everybody know that when Honda do something, they make a really good job. The Yamaha option for sure is one of the best solutions, because you can get an engine with as much performance as the factory, and you can have 24 liters [of fuel]."

But staying with the Aprilia ART was still a very serious option, especially given the proven competitiveness of the bike. "Our bike now is at a really good level," Borsoi said. "We are fighting with the factory bikes. We have information, we have data, we have a lot of material too, in our truck, so for us it would be a little bit easier if we continue in the same way. But the new rules are really important for us to decide which kind of situation we want to be in." Borsoi agreed that the new rules were hardest on their team, with the Aspar bikes already so competitive.

The key decision for the Aspar team to make is whether they would stay as a non-MSMA entry, and use the standard software, or continue to use the Aprilia software package as an MSMA entry, and accept the cut in fuel allowance to 20 liters and the reduction in engines. Using less fuel would be hard, but it would not provide an insurmountable problem. Were Aspar currently using too much fuel, over the current allowance of 21 liters for the factory prototypes? "Not too much fuel, no," Borsoi admitted. "We are near the limit, but if we have to go with 20 liters, we will have to work a lot." It would be a major challenge, though not impossible. "Not a big step, but definitely not easy," Borsoi said.

The question of engine reliability would be much more difficult if Aspar decided to compete as an MSMA entry. At present, it is unclear whether Aprilia will be regarded as a new factory, who have not raced in MotoGP since 2007 and will therefore be allowed a total of 9 engines, or whether they will be regarded as an existing factory, and have to survive with just 5 engines. In the latter case, it would be almost impossible for Aspar to manage the season, Borsoi admitted. "Five engines, at the moment it's impossible," the Italian former rider said. "Maybe Aprilia decide to change this engine, to make some upgrade to it. But for us, nine engines should be a perfect number. Less [than nine], it's a risk for us."

If Aspar wish to switch to Yamaha, they will have to make a decision soon, as the Japanese factory has indicated they want to know by the summer break which teams will be using their leased engine options. If they decide to switch to Honda or stay with Aprilia, they have a little more time. But at some point, they will have to face up to that dilemma, and make a choice for the future.

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It seems as soon as the CRT/ART machines are starting to get competitive there is a rule change. I would love to see the ART machine with pneumatic valves, extra fuel, Aprilia software and soft tyres compete. This package seems to be a great value $1MM euros for a very competitive bike.

Why would Dorna change to upset this? I thought things were about cost savings.

These constant year to year changes only serve to add more cost to the series and to the teams.

Here is an idea: Let all non-MSMA teams have tyres open access to whatever tyre manufacturer they choose.

We want close racing. Let the "privateers" have a fighting chance to win races and a shot at the title. It would be good to see Dunlop, Pirelli, and Michelin competing.

Dorna is already dumbing down WSBK. At least make it possible that all of the top riders could possibly compete as a wildcard in the GP's.

Thanks, finally some said what I have been thinking all along - Dorna is a total screw up. Dorna makes up rules as it goes and must take responsibility for the current state of affairs. Enough of blaming the economy, the manufacturers, etc.

The MSMA (manufacturers) still have a monopoly on the technical regulations. All of the changes which have helped drive up the cost have been made at the direct request of the manufacturers. It is their rules which MotoGP is following.

Where Dorna has failed has been in raising money. But it is better to apportion blame where it belongs.

Dorna took control of MotoGP (formally 500cc GP) back in 1992. The move away from 2-stroke to 4-stroke racing was probably at their direction and influence; the peak years of 500cc GP racing (pre-Doohan) & MotoGP in and around 05/06 was under their control; the introduction and development of on-board cameras/telemetry was no doubt heavily encouraged by them… so really have they done such a terrible job?
The sport is in the middle of a storm at the moment, no doubt - kind of like F1 was when M.Sch was winning every race. But rule changes in every guise of racing is inevitable and once these rules are finalised in the near future, it will return to a balance… only for some rule changes to be introduced in 2019 when we’ll go through the same cycle all over again ; )
Prepare for bombardment of rebuttal…

It has to be extremely frustrating to run in a series where rule changes are the only constant and the rules never seem to make it easier for teams/manufacturers to compete at a lower cost (which is their aim?.....)

I really hope they can get their sh** together so MotoGP can have a stable field of bikes competing at a high level while attracting new marquees and teams.. not raising questions about joining the series.

CRT was/is a good thing. in spite of all scepticism, they turned out OK. Lets trust dorna for a while. we see what Aprilia is capable of. It is, a factory effort, killing the competition! Shed build bikes are not competitive. And calling Suter or FTR bike a shed build one is a bold statement, but they re nowhere. Only Aspar is getting dirty end of the stick, but all others are getting a fair/ish chance to fight factory racers, Aprilia is de facto already one of them. Today two bikes are capable of decent GP pace, next year, all Yamaha engined bikes should be closer, much closer than ART is now.

Maybe it's me, but I wonder if the 24 liters/more engines option is a red herring. More horsepower isn't making these machines any faster. Look at the top speeds from qualifying at Catalunya; the Ducatis were in with and faster than some of the Hondas, and all of the Ducatis were faster than all of the Yamahas. It's a similar story in qualifying at Assen, with Hayden significantly faster than Rossi. Yet come race day ...

And the more electronic aids you take away from these machines, the less more horsepower is going to matter.

Well done. The only thing I would like to know further about the Power Electronics Aspar team's bikes are these: 1, are the frames a close copy of the Aprilia RSV4 production bike frame; 2, do the engines run the gear-driven camshafts that were employed in the 2010 Superbike World Championship season; 3, how much different are the engines to the current Laverty & Guintoli Superbike engines?

Other than those questions, you have made the dilemma facing the Power Electronics Aspar team abundantly clear.

Looking from the outside, it would seem sticking with the bike they know would be the preferred option, but that hinges on matters beyond their control. The Yamaha option means getting a chassis sorted in time for the start of the 2014 season, and unless there are relaxations of the testing limitations, then that will be a tough choice.

So, the Honda option may be the way the way they go, depending on what Aprilia comes up with.

People keep calling the ART a factory effort... I'm not so sure. Where is the horsepower? In any case, Aprilia has something that works, so it only makes sense for Dorna to try and squash it. Hopefully they let them do the halfway deal and get the 9 engines they need. Satellite Hondas are no good, so further dumbed down Hondas will be even worse. And they don't have time to build a competitive bike around the Yamaha motor. Maybe they can get one of those rental Desmos and answer the question of whether satellite Ducs can beat the factory ones (with the super soft tires)

twist of fate if Ducati made their engines available at a competitive price to the Yamaha engine and someone took them up and built a frame that their rider could use. My guess is this is why we will never see the Duc engine outside of a Duc frame. Honda's V5 in the KR frame was highly competitive (at times).

I hope that rumors about pneumatic valve springs for Aprilia engine are true because if not Aprilia is facing difficult task to find customers for next season. It's very important to know that ART is currently the most expensive CRT bike a couple times more expensive than any other.

The major difference between the WSBK Aprilia and the ART engine is the that (IRRC) Biaggi's team used 30 engines in his final year.

Making max horsepower is not the problem. Making max horsepower that will not grenade the engine is difficult.

The top riders are making the difference no matter what rules are put in place. The rest is just wasted money & effort.

Let the CRT, ART or leased Hondas have whatever they need to close the 30 second gap to the podium. Chasing Aprilla away just so Honda & Yamaha are the only names talked about does not make the series look better. Even Suzuki know they won't be competitive for a few years.