Aprilla Comes Undone as Moto GP goes “Open”

As the Moto GP season winds its way towards its close with 3 races left in Australia, Japan and Valencia, Dorna the sports commericial rights holder has started looking to 2014 as has Aspar having all but wrapped up a second CRT title with Aleix Espargaro.

Firstly with the new rules next year the CRT class (for “privateers”) will become known as the “Open” class and the full prototypes will become “Factory”. However over the past few weeks teams have signed up their manufacturers for next season and something funny has happened. After Dorna made the factory teams help out the privateer teams they have gone and done just that, Honda with a full production racer bike and Yamaha with the lease of full spec M1 engines.

The open class teams do get 4 more litres of fuel, the softer tyre and 12 engines throughout the season, however they are stuck using the spec ECU. The “Factory” teams will have one litre less than this year, only 5 engines but are allowed to write their own software onto the new spec ECU. This addition to the rules meant Suzuki delayed their entry until 2015 to give them time to port their software across to the new platform – despite this I am surprised they didn’t strike a deal with a team to run a “open” version of the bike with the standard ECU for a season.

With the introduction of these two new privateer options from HRC and Yamaha have seen quite the shuffle in the riders and hardware the teams will use next year.

Forward Racing
Colin Edwards has lead Forward Racing for the past two seasons and this year has performed well on the FTR-Kawasaki, however they have been the team to take the plunge opting to lease the full Yamaha M1 engine. They will be helped out this year by Yamaha with their chassis design which should help them out greatly. This has seen Aleix Espargaro jump ship and pay his way out his contract with Aspar.

Aspar
Despite strong links to Aprilia over the years, the possible weakening of the package with the sepc ECU and the move of the head of racing to Ducati Corsi has lead Aspar to opt for the Honda RCV1000R production racer. Honda have also provided some fiscal help one assumes as they have announced that 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden will race for the team next year. The second seat is unconfirmed as Randy De Puniet will move to testing duties at Suzuki and look to return on a factory bike in 2015.

Gresini Honda
Gresini have opted to trade in their Honda powered FTR bike for the production Honda as expected due to their close ties with the manufacturer (their other bike is a Satellite Factory bike with full support). Bryan Starling will make way for Moto2 leader Scott Redding.

Cardion AB
Karel Abraham’s family run team will drop the ART as well next season and run the RCV1000R alongside those listed above. No prizes for guessing who will pilot the single bike here.

All of this leaves Paul Bird as the only team who currently run a Aprilia machine to announce what they will do next year. However PBM have been developing their own chassis this year around the Aprilia engine and have indicated they wish to continue that next year with two bikes.

All this movement over the past month or so has now left Aprilia with a problem, an upgraded bike with seamless shift and pneumatic valves but no teams to run it. So they have the option of entering as a factory however they would severely struggle with the engine limit even though as a new Factory team they would be granted 9 engines for the following year, enter a quasi factory team into the open class or get one of the other teams to take up the package for next year.

We must really hope that Dorna hasn’t shot itself in the foot with getting the factory teams to assist the privateer entries and edge out other manufacturers who took up Dorna’s new vision for the class. If the Aprilia project fails it will point to failure of the new format which ART have under taken in earnest and have looked to be heading towards producing a full factory effort long term. If they have been edged out of the equation by further restricted factory bikes then it will have all been for nothing.

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