2012 MotoGP Silly Season Updates

December 19, 2011
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

The 2012 MotoGP season marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. The premier class pushes forward with 1000cc race bikes, but 2012 also marks the introduction of the Claiming Rules Team – the controversial new CRT entries GP bikes powered by production-based engines.

The upcoming season will see just 12 factory-built prototypes contesting the championship. The three remaining manufacturers – Honda, Yamaha and Ducati – will each back a two-man factory squad and supply bikes for two satellite riders. The rest of the grid will be comprised of CRT bikes. The Grand Prix Commission has confirmed nine such entries, with a tenth CRT spot reserved as of Dec. 14 (Grand Prix Changes 2012 Regulations).

This final testing day of 2011 saw both riders fine tuning elements of their 2012  1000cc machine. As well as testing the new 2012 Bridgestone tires  both riders worked on general set up of the machines.
Casey Stoner leads the HRC charge in 2012 as the defending MotoGP champion – the official factory Honda effort scaling down from four riders to two. Honda will continue to supply bikes for two satellite teams (Gresini/LCR).

The silly season plots and intrigue continue to swirl, but now that GP goes into its winter break, the major pieces are more or less sorted. Here’s the way the ’12 grid stacks up, with this page updated as more CRT details are confirmed.

HONDA

Casey Stoner – Repsol
Zero speculation on this roster spot… Stoner closed out the 800 era the way it started, with title-winning domination – this time for his new HRC employers. The Australian will lead development of the 1000cc RC213V as the title favorite.

Dani Pedrosa – Repsol
The 2012 season marks Pedrosa’s seventh consecutive campaign for the factory Honda squad – by far the longest rider tenure in MotoGP (next closest is fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, who enters his fifth season aboard the factory Yamaha).

Alvaro Bautista – Gresini
Abandoning ship when Suzuki pulled out of MotoGP, Bautista fills the seat vacated by the irreplaceable Marco Simoncelli. Bautista pilots the lone RC213V in the Gresini Racing garage, with the second Gresini entry a CRT bike (see below). Reports indicate that Gresini will not enjoy the same level of HRC support in 2012 as it did in 2011, where Simoncelli was a de facto fourth factory rider.

Stefan Bradl – LCR
The reigning Moto2 champion makes his MotoGP debut for the LCR Honda satellite squad. The LCR team has a solid history of over-achieving rookie performers, including Andrea Dovizioso (2008) and Casey Stoner (2006). 

YAMAHA

Its been a long two days  said Ben Spies. We had a lot of work to do with Jorge not being here but weve got through everything. I think we got the guys working in the right direction  were still quite a way from Qatar and what well be racing with but weve got a good idea of what we need to work on.
Ben Spies was the highest-placed American in 2011.

Jorge Lorenzo – Factory Yamaha
The 2010 champion marks his fifth season in MotoGP, all of them as a factory Yamaha man. Looks to rebound from his runner-up finish in 2011 aboard the 1000cc M1.

Ben Spies – Factory Yamaha
The 2009 World Superbike champ teams with Lorenzo on the still title-sponsorless factory Yamaha team. Top-placing American in the 2011 championship (fifth) will look to further improve in his third GP season, his 2011 results including four podiums and his inaugural GP victory (Assen).

Andrea Dovizioso – Tech 3 Yamaha
The odd man out in the Repsol garage, Dovizioso migrates to the satellite Yamaha for 2012 after four seasons with Honda (three as factory rider). Consistency of seven podiums earned the Italian third overall in 2011.

Cal Crutchlow – Tech 3 Yamaha
British rider returns for sophomore season in MotoGP with the Tech 3 squad. Crutchlow clinched Rookie of the Year honors at the Valencia finale with a fourth-place result – his best GP finish to date.

These were two important days of testing because we needed to collect a lot of data for the next few months of work  which will be crucial. - Valentino Rossi - Valencia 1000cc testing
Number 46 will look for better results in 2012…

DUCATI

Valentino Rossi – Marlboro
Rossi is still searching for his 80th victory in the premier class after a frustratingly futile 2011 campaign, his first with Ducati. Beginning his 17th Grand Prix season, Rossi now holds the distinction of being the most experienced rider in Grand Prix with Loris Capirossi now retired.

Nicky Hayden – Marlboro
Nicky Hayden begins his fourth-consecutive season for Ducati Marlboro. Finished eighth in 2011 points tally, including one podium finish.

Hector Barbera – Pramac Ducati
Spaniard remains aboard a Ducati for his third season in MotoGP. Barbera left Mapfre Aspar when it was evident Aspar would field a CRT effort in 2012. Barbera will be the lone rider for Pramac Racing, with the satellite squad scaling down to a one-rider squad.

Karel Abraham – Cardion AB
Abraham returns after an impressive rookie season, where he tussled with Crutchlow for ROY honors. The lone Czech rider in the premier class, Abraham managed several top-10 results in 2011 aboard the Ducati satellite.

CLAIMING RULES TEAM (CRT)

Colin Edwards – NGM Forward Racing – BMW/Suter
High profile CRT team first revealed at Misano during ’11 season. At first it seemed the Forward project would be powered by Yamaha R1 with a Tech 3 frame (based in part by Edwards’ hints at project unveiling press conference). It was later confirmed at the Sepang round that the Forward CRT would source BMW engine and Suter chassis.

Michele Pirro - 2011 Valencia MotoGP
Michele Pirro moves up from Moto2 to pilot the Gresini CRT.

Michele Pirro – Gresini Racing – Honda/FTR
Fausto Gresini promoted his Moto2 rider, Michele Pirro, to pilot the team’s CRT entry for 2012. Winner of the Valencia Moto2 finale, Pirro takes the reins of a FTR chassis powered by Honda CBR1000R engine. The Gresini MotoGP team will be unique in 2012 as the sole prototype/CRT hybrid in the paddock. 

Randy De Puniet – Aspar Team – Aprilia
Randy de Puniet will lead Team Aspar in 2012, as the Spanish squad mounts a two-bike CRT effort. The French rider briefly tested the Suzuki at the end of the season, shortly before the manufacturer announced its withdrawal. De Puniet then resurfaced testing the Aprilia-based CRT at Jerez. The Aspar CRT project is eyebrow-raising for sourcing a RSV4 engine and frame also from Aprilia – presumably based off the RSV as well. Aspar has a long partnership with Aprilia, having campaigned the manufacturer’s machinery in 125 and 250 (De Puniet riding an Aspar 250 bike in 2005). Team Aspar notably claimed the final 125 title this past year with its rider Nico Terol.

Aleix Espargaro – Aspar Team – Aprilia
Espargaro gets his second shot at the premier class, having contested 2010 with Pramac Ducati. The Spaniard placed 12th in Moto2 last season for Pons Kalex.

Yonni Hernandez BQR  Kawasaki/FTR
The Spanish based BQR team was first reported to be supporting a CRT effort with FTR chassis and Kawasaki engine (CRT Grid Takes Shape). The By Queroseno Racing (BRQ) squad was listed on the initial CRT team list, which also included the now scraped Marc VDS squad (see below). Hernandez piloted the Kawasaki/FTR bike during an end of year private test at Jerez.

Ivan Silva – BQR  
Silva piloted the second BQR mount at the Jerez test in late November.

Anthony West – Speed Master – Aprilia
West is another veteran GP rider who returns to MotoGP via CRT entry – the Speed Master squad’s Aprilia-powered ride (chassis unconfirmed). The 30-year-old Australian first challenged in the premier class way back in 2001 aboard a 500cc Honda. West’s more recent MotoGP foray came in 2007-2008 with Kawasaki. 

James Ellison – Paul Bird Motorsport – Aprilia
Ellison will front the Aprilia-powered PBM CRT entry. Paul Bird Motorsport migrates from World Superbike, where it was dropped as the factory-backed Kawasaki team. Ellison has previous GP experience, racing the WCM entry full-time in 2005 and for Tech 3 Yamaha in 2006. The 30-year-old Englishman has one of the most diverse racing resumes, logging campaigns in British Superbike, World Supersport and AMA Superbike along with his GP seasons.

Possible 2012 CRT

Ioda Racing
Racing website GPone.com broke news that Italian Danilo Petrucci would pilot the Ioda Racing CRT project. Since then the rumored Suter-BMW effort has now shifted to an Aprilia-based CRT. Ioda campaigns one of the stronger Moto2 squads, with rider Simone Corsi running an FTR chassis (placing sixth in 2011 points). 

Marc VDS Racing 2012 motogp prototype
The first CRT to break cover, the BMW/Suter Marc VDS project will not come to fruition – the team splitting with Suter and staying in Moto2 for 2012, this time with a Kalex chassis.

Team Laglisse
Spanish-based team campaigns Suter-chassis Moto2 project in its domestic CEV series in the Moto2 class.

Future CRT?

Marc VDS Racing
The first CRT squad to see regular action, with multiple tests in 2011, the BMW/Sutter Marc VDS project will not race MotoGP in 2012. Instead the team will continue in Moto2 series, the team having split with Suter to run Kalex chassis in the upcoming season.

Tech 3
First linked to possible chassis fabrication for Edwards’ Forward Racing ride, reports suggest Tech 3 will participate in CRT project in future MotoGP seasons.

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