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Espargaró: "Aprilia will be the bike to beat among the CRTs"

Espargaró: "Aprilia will be the bike to beat among the CRTs"

Just ahead of the second test round of the season for CRT teams and riders next week in Jerez, Aleix Espargaró spoke with about his impressions of the project that will return him to the premier class.

It’s difficult to find someone in the MotoGP™ paddock with the enthusiasm of Aleix Espargaró when facing new adventures, and now that he has the opportunity to return to the top class in 2012 he is especially motivated and enthusiastic. The rider from Granollers, just outside Barcelona, recently debuted the Aspar Team’s ART bike at the first preseason test in Valencia, and will continue developing the bike at the Jerez circuit in a test next week. But first he will make a stop in Paterna (Valencia) where his team will officially present the multinational Power Electronics company as their primary sponsor of the MotoGP Aspar Team. In this interview, Espargaró shared his views on the project and his progress thus far.

Aleix, at the end of last season when you signed with the Aspar team, it was originally to run in the Moto2 class. Then this CRT project for MotoGP came up. Are you where you want to be in 2012?

"MotoGP is better for me, for my size and weight I’ll have less of a handicap. And the start of the project has been exciting. "

On one hand, you’ll have many options to stand out among the other CRTs but on the other hand, having a rider like Randy De Puniet on the same bike and in the same box ...

"Yes, they always say that your friend is your first enemy, and in this case even more so. Randy is a very experienced rider and very very fast. But I really like him, at the Valencia test we talked a lot and we helped each other out, the most important thing is to make our bike the best CRT. It’s a year to gain experience and develop the bike and I think between the two of us we can do a good job."

Do you think it will it be a year of gradual evolution or think you’ll see some quick progress, perhaps after the first part of the championship? What expectations do you have in this regard?

"It’s clear that we will evolve and CRTs will get progressively closer to the front. It’s logical and obvious that we’ll suffer in the first few races, but the idea and the goal must be to get better in every GP and then toward middle or end of the year to be as close as we can to the front, especially at the smaller circuits."

Your opinion after the Valencia test was positive, you even had some pleasant surprises, like with the level of tire grip. What are you going to focus on next with the bike?

"As far as power and riding, the bike is very different from a Moto2 bike, and I have had to re-adjust my riding. But I'm happy, the bike works great. We have to learn to make good use of the electronics, I think that’s the most important thing, and like I said, I also have to adapt and improve the bike gradually. It’s clear that the initial package will be inferior to what we will have at the end of the season, it’s going to evolve."

Regarding suspension, brakes, chassis, tires and other components, it isn’t so different from the MotoGP bikes. Which aspects do you think you’ll have to work on more to optimize the ART CRT ?

"I see it as an improved Superbike. The times are going to be between a Superbike and MotoGP bike. A little faster than the Sperbike, a little slower than a MotoGP bike. In terms of power, I think we can still improve a little. And I think that we’re not too far off. As for electronics, the CRT concept is somewhat less sophisticted than a MotoGP bike, less complex, and with far fewer telemetry channels, but it’s clear that what we have works well and we have to try to improve it."

At the first test in Valencia, there were no other CRTs there, they were at the test in Malaysia, so the first direct comparison between all the 2012 CRT's is coming up shortly. Will you be at the test in Jerez next week?

"I don’t know for sure. Clearly, I would have liked to have gone to Malaysia, but it made sense not to go, the bike is still green and training in Europe is much safer, because if something happens you have the factory next door. So we haven’t been measured against the teams that went to Malaysia, and now we are going to test in Jerez, then in Aragon, and then again at the Official Test in Jerez, which means that we’ll see where we are before the Grand Prix in Qatar, though I think the Aprilia will be the bike to beat in the CRT category."

"We'll see where we are with respect to Colin (Edwards), who seemed to be the best in Malaysia. The Sepang track is a bit misleading though because it’s fast and the power of the 1000cc is really noticeable there, but if we do better than the BMW-Suter on tracks like Aragon, Valencia and Jerez, then the objective has to be 2 to 2.5 seconds off pole."

Experienced and fast riders like Edwards and De Puniet won’t make it easy for you to be the first rider on a CRT ...

"No, nor others like Pasini, a rider with no experience in the class, but really fast ... I think it'll be fun. We’ll get left behind by the MotoGP bikes - but we have to try to be close, because then everything will be more competitive-- but we’ll focus on trying to beat all CRTs. Like I said, I think the Aprilia motorcycle will start as the favorite, so de Puniet will be the strongest rival. I'd be very happy if I could be the first CRT."

What is the atmosphere like in the Aspar team surrounding this new project?

"We are excited, about our team and about the Aprilia. The bike is brand new and the truth is that when it arrived, we liked it a lot. Jorge Martinez and Aprilia are working hard and we all can’t wait to see how far we can go this year."

For someone like you with the reputation of being a good test rider, to embark on a project like this should be particularly exciting ...

"Yes, I was fortunate enough to develop the first Moto2 bikes that were in Spain, with Dani Devahive, and then I went to the World Championship and got on the podium with a Moto2. Now I really want to do something great with this bike. Jorge has one of the best teams in the Championship, it’s a professional environment and with Aprilia it’s great ... it's a very exciting project, I really want us to be competitive and do something big "

And starting tomorrow, you’ll have a new sponsor ....

"Yes, I’ll be at the presentation in Paterna (Valencia) with the team. Jorge is making an amazing effort, he started testing the new bikes without a sponsor. Now the sponsor(Power Electronics)has been finalized and hopefully with a bit of luck and we can do well in the races and in the Championship "

MotoGP, 2012, Aleix Espargaro, Power Electronics Aspar

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