Spain’s high-profile Aspar squad has officially confirmed it plans to race in the 2012 MotoGP world championship with an Aprilia RSV4-powered 1000cc project.
The team has also confirmed the signing of French rider Randy de Puniet, who tested a hybrid Aprilia machine for two days at the Jerez track in Spain last week.
Former Pramac Ducati rider Aleix Espargaro will be the team’s second rider having initially planned to race for the Aspar Moto2 squad.
Aspar will race under the new CRT rules, which allow teams to tune production engines like the Aprilia RSV4 to race in a prototype chassis.
The Aspar announcement only makes reference to the fact that the team will use Aprilia’s engine next season, without stating which chassis it will run. But it is expected that Aprilia will make a complete bike available for lease.
The Aprilia CRT deal comes after Aspar boss Jorge Martinez was forced to abandon plans to lease two factory Ducati GP12 machines in 2012 because of budget issues.
The former 125GP world champion said: “We are really happy because we find ourselves with a brand new challenge ahead of us and we have full faith that CRT is the future of MotoGP, which is why we are amongst the first to join this initiative.
"As a team we continue to grow and after having a single rider for our first two seasons in MotoGP we will now have two in Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró. I am pleased to welcome Randy back to the team; he was already with us back in 2005 and we have good memories. Aleix was also with us in 2009 although it was only for two races.
"We are sure that this will be a successful project with the riders we have but also with the engine supplier, which will be Aprilia. We always wanted to stick with them for this project because of the fabulous relationship we have with them and their pedigree in the smaller classes.
"Our objective this season is to be the best CRT team and to prepare for another step forward in 2013".
The Aspar deal means at least three CRT projects will run Aprilia engines with British team boss Paul Bird planning to use an RSV4 motor for James Ellison.