Aspar To Drop Ducati, Switch To CRT Status

MotoGP's ever-shrinking grid is becoming a reality as the end of the season approaches and teams start unveiling their plans for next year. The latest victim of the lack of sponsorship in the paddock is the Mapfre Aspar Ducati team, who look set to pull the plug on their partnership with Ducati and switch to a CRT bike. According to MCN's Matt Birt, the team has failed to reach an agreement with Ducati Corse over the lease price of a Desmosedici GP12 and will therefore be turning to a CRT project as a way to remain in MotoGP and stay within the budget they have available.

The decision was a serious one, and had been coming for a while. According to, Aspar boss Jorge Martinez had even offered a number of compromises to Ducati, including using some of the parts used and discarded by Valentino Rossi during testing for the GP12 earlier this year. Aspar's final gambit was to lease just a single bike for one rider, instead of the pair of bikes that all riders use, MCN reported, but even that failed, leaving Aspar to turn to CRT for their future.

Aspar's strong relationship with Suter means that the BMW-powered Suter is the team's first option for remaining in MotoGP. But MCN is also reporting that talks have been ongoing with Aprilia about leasing RSV4 engines tuned for MotoGP. No chassis manufacturer has been named, but FTR were touting a project consisting of an Aprilia RSV4 engine in an FTR chassis at the Misano round of MotoGP. Even then, selling the project was hard, despite the costs being only around half a million euros a season, a far cry from the multiple millions for a satellite machine. Aspar's historic ties with Aprilia would help ease such a combination, though the combination of a Suter chassis in Moto2 and an FTR frame in MotoGP may cause some logistical problems, with the team having to compartmentalize the data from each of the projects.

The good news is that Aspar remains committed to competing in MotoGP. Making the switch to CRT status allows Aspar to remain in the series at a more affordable cost, and keeps them on the grid in MotoGP. Elsewhere, there are also signs that efforts are being made to keep the grid size up: in the press release announcing the Gresini team extending their sponsorship deal with Italian snack manufacturer San Carlo, Gresini spoke repeatedly of riders, plural, being supported, though the main focus is on Simoncelli. There is a serious chance that Gresini will field a CBR1000-powered CRT effort as a second bike for 2012, though no such bike exists yet.

Aspar's decision to split with Ducati leaves just three confirmed Ducatis on the grid for next year. The Pramac squad is likely to continue, though with just a single machine, but no decision has been taken yet by team owner Paolo Campinoti. Add the three Ducatis to four Yamahas (two factory bikes and two Monster Tech 3 satellite machines), four Hondas (two Repsol bikes, one San Carlo Gresini bike for Simoncelli, and an LCR Honda, with either Alvaro Bautista or Randy de Puniet aboard) and the NGM Forward machine of Colin Edwards, and we have a confirmed grid of just 12 machines. With so few entries, pressure will be stepped up on Marc Marquez to move up to MotoGP in 2012, to help expand the numbers. Former Kawasaki World Superbike team boss Paul Bird also looks like to field at least one CRT bike next year, with MCN reporting his entry has been received by IRTA and will be discussed this weekend. The series is now waiting upon developments from the other CRT entries, who submitted their teams back in June.

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Just three? Isn't Karel Abraham already confirmed as well? I think he has a loyal sponsor.

And why would cause an FTR Aprilia RSV4 logistical problems? Is that worse than having a Suter bike in mototwo and a Ducati D16 in MotoGP?

Anyway, let's hope that Suzuki comes up with a true 1000cc MotoGP bike for Bautista and that they'll put Hopkins on a second one, because if they leave as well, it's going to be a poor show next year.

Three Ducatis: Rossi/Hayden on the Marlboro bikes, and Abraham on the Cardion AB machine. Aspar are now a CRT, and Pramac have yet to make an announcement.

Ah, sorry, I read into it that there would be at least one Pramac Ducati as well, but I see it's not yet confirmed. Thanks!

...If you're going to race for 12-15 then you might as well save a couple million Euros, makes a lot of sense for me.

Spend your money on having the hottest grid-girls... that's what the punters want to see anyway, and much better return for your sponsor than megabucks on an possible 8th place.

A strong team with a strong rider.

I'm not expecting miracles but by the later half of 2012 we could see a few surprises from one or two CRT's. Yes wags I know this is only CRT nr.2 to date.

Big things start in small ways.

I think if he goes CRT, it could be a tipping point for others sitting on the sidelines. The series really doesn't need a slew of them to make the concept a success. The names listed in the other post plus Aspar and Marc VDS make up enough to test the idea. If Pons, Tech3 and Gresini get to join in for 2013 along with a few more it could outnumber regular riders in short order. I bet that even Pramac could go this way soon enough. Then what effect does that have on the Ducati racing budget? They weren't leasing those bikes at cost.

Didn't FTR announce they had shelved their Aprilia project due to the lack of interest at the price Aprilia were asking for their engines? And that it was now too late to re-activate it before 2013?

Maybe they managed to recruit more than one good welder :)

Hm, it's getting very confusing. Didn't CRT mean Claiming Rule Team? So what if somebody else claims your newly purchased and expensive Aprilia engine? I seem to remember a fixed price tag of 20.000 euros, which seems cheap for a factory engine. Won't that mean that nobody will field an engine that is anywhere near factory spec? So what's going to happen with the rumoured Yamaha factory superbike engines and the like? I read that Colin Edwards is going to go that way, but then he might become an engine salesman for his new team...

Are Aprilia and BMW going to slip into MGP through the back door. I was under the impression that Honda had blocked such eventualities. No doubt I've lost my way in the spiderweb pertaining to the rule book for 2012.
I am pleased to see a late surge by some teams to go the CRT route.
Without a doubt they will be uncompetitive to start with,but the more the merrier.
I'm not averse to enjoying 2 tier GP during the transition period of 2012/13.
I enjoyed it when they ran strokers against 990's back then. One just has to employ a mindset in which you compare apples with apples,oranges with oranges and yes,lemons with lemons.

Aspar has always been smart and persuasive in the way he conducts his business (not just his old school racing days), so these news are indeed worthy of big "news flash" importance.
...I just hope he can get two of those bikes (the RSV4/FTR, not the S1000RR/Suter) with two decent riders. So, Barbera on one bike and the other...???

The CRT bikes will not be top contenders but if they beat satellite bikes more often than not, we may be looking at a positive sudden change of plans for future private machinery preferences (against the manufacturers wishes). Maybe inspiring other teams from Moto2 and WSBK to come up and play with the big boys (the actual plan behind this?).

The more interested teams in signing-up/investing with CRT bikes for MotoGP, the less power/control the manufactures may have in the long term. Factory machines for satellite teams would have to get costs lowered significantly, to maintain competitive prices and interests (against CRT alternatives), which is also a big plus.

These are very hard times for everybody but this CRT "silly-season" stuff is actually becoming more interesting than I initially presumed!

...then it would make sense to talk about a sub-class, like the EVO bikes in BSB. That could help provide a bit more impetus: being first CRT bike has got to give more publicity than being 12th overall, no?

Has anyone considered in detail the impact of the spec tires on these CRT machines? With engines likely to produce drastically less HP than the factory prototype units how might tires that have proven to be finicky enough for the factory machines limit the new CRT bikes? I suppose that development of the associated chassis in conjunction may help but I certainly can see tires developed primarily to support forces placed upon them by factory engines not working quite as well for the production based equipment.

It will be very interesting indeed. I'm (surprisingly) quite excited to see what Suter/FTR et al come up with.

Jorge Martinez move is a big plus for the crt teams and hopefully more will take the program seriously, no reason why the rules can't be 'tampered' with mid season to improve things works in wsbk. Good news for Dorna and their future vision and two fingers to the completely out of order honda, charging 4.5 for a bike and a further 0.7 if you want a competitive gearbox in a time of austerity.. .
On the other hand we now have more than the Rossi's fans who've come round to the idea that ducati got it wrong a while ago and the fix is more of the same. Another frameless bike this close to Valencia is an extremely worrying non- development, just how much longer can Ducati honchos allow Presiozi this frameless bike goose chase. Zero guarantees it will every work and I guess they are close to gambling Ducatis entire corse project on it.. you couldn;t make it up...Bonkers..

Perhaps this just reflects Honda's austerity budget and the real costs - in tight economic times, they can't subsidise satellite teams as in the past.

All this talk of CRT bikes possibly being able to challenge Satellite teams is taking away from a Satellite bike is based on the full Factory version.
How close are they comparitively? Is a LCR Honda 80%, 90% as capable as a Repsol? What major differences are there, other than the seamless gearbox?
Tech3 bikes are rumoured to be the closest to the Factory Yamaha's, but still where does that leave them?

Personally Im all for the return of the run what ya brung, privateer race team in the big show.

I think the satellite bike's are more like 98% of factory bikes. And between the factories, it's +/- 0.5%. And CRT bikes will probably be in the range of 95-97%.

When was the last time a bike failed to qualify at 107% of pole time?

send the message to Ducati that until they built a bike worth racing, best not to offer a lesser version to anyone, especially for the amount of money the teams invest. well said earlier about better off campaigning a CRT bike. At this point, the CRT has an honest chance of besting a Satellite Ducati. It's too bad that Primac and the great riders that they have had (then fired) put their trust and money into Ducati for all these years,, far too many years! They would have seen better results on a Satellite Suzuki.

I would not be surprised if Dorna had an indirect hand in making the negotiations with Ducati difficult.

For Dorna a team like Aspar's is the ideal candidate for CRT, but from Aspar point-of-view going down that route is big risk. As long as he can keep leasing a decently competitive bike, why build your own?

Now his hand is forced.....