Ducati uncomfortable with Aprilia CRT project

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Aprilia’s decision to supply a new 1000cc MotoGP bike based on its RSV4 World Superbike machine is not in the spirit of new CRT rules introduced for 2012, according to senior Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali.

The CRT rules were devised to bolster dwindling grid numbers by permitting independent teams unable to lease factory prototypes at extortionate prices to develop their own 1000cc projects at a more affordable cost.

A production-based engine like the BMW S1000R or Honda CBR1000RR could be tuned and housed in a prototype chassis and allowed to race in MotoGP.

Nine CRT bikes will make up the 21-strong entry in 2012. One will be the Suter/BMW project involving Colin Edwards while the BQR squad will run a tweaked Kawasaki ZX-10R motor in a British-built FTR frame.

Other new projects also include a Honda CBR1000RR-powered machine run by Fausto Gresini. Dutch experts Ten Kate will tune that motor and FTR will build the frame.

Much of the focus though on the new CRT entries has fallen on Aprilia.

It is likely to sell a complete machine but there are fears that a bike developed and sold by a factory should be classed as a prototype and not a CRT.

By providing a CRT bike, Aprilia will be able to use 24 litres of fuel and 12 engines. That is three more litres and six more engines than the restrictions currently in place for the factory bikes entered by Ducati, Honda and Yamaha.

Speaking at Ducati’s 2012 team launch at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in Italy, Domenicali gave his thoughts on the Aprilia situation and said: “It is on the limit or a bit on the other side of the limit. It is not the spirit of CRT.

“CRT was born to make the possibility for someone to buy an engine and to tune it and build a prototype. But here we are in front of a superbike machine just painted in a different colour and saying it is a MotoGP bike.

“I don’t think this is very nice but let’s say for one year only we consider it is not a big problem.

“But if we end up with a championship in which every motorcycle manufacturer races with a superbike, it is a different animal and not anymore prototype. And that is a bit of a problem.”

An Aprilia hasn’t raced in MotoGP since the Italian factory quit at the end of 2004 having struggled to make its RS3 Cube 990cc machine competitive.

The highest profile team running an Aprilia in 2012 is the Spanish-based Aspar squad, though it hasn’t confirmed yet whether it will use its own chassis.

British team owner Paul Bird will also use an RSV4 motor with James Ellison.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt