Team Aspar has confirmed it will expand to two riders in the MotoGP World Championship next season with the signing of Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro.
Having made the decision to adopt the new CRT regulations, Aspar will in turn double its efforts for 2012, two years after making its category debut with a single Ducati for Spaniard Hector Barbera.
The signing of de Puniet comes after the Frenchman this week sampled the early development model of its CRT machine, based loosely on the Aprilia RSV-4 superbike. Though the team does not confirm its chassis for 2012, it will use a modified Aprilia RSV-4 1000cc engine.
For de Puniet, the decision to join Aspar comes after he was left with few options on the MotoGP grid having parted ways with Pramac Ducati after just a single season. With a new challenge awaiting him at Aspar, he is looking forward to helping develop the new CRT era machines.
"I am very happy to return to the Aspar Team, having already raced with them in 2005 during my 250cc career. I have very fond memories of that time and now we are taking on a new challenge together in the shape of CRT. I know that this is a very competitive team and they will be fighting to have the best material available. We have already tested and gathered a lot of good feedback. CRT is the future of MotoGP and even though we have a lot of work ahead of us it will be enjoyable.
“The objective for next season will be to adapt as soon as possible to this new prototype and gradually close the gap to the factory bikes. Testing at Jerez was very productive, we had good weather and managed to gather a lot of good data. The lap times were interesting even though we are obviously a long way off the motorcycle we will start the season with so I am very pleased with how everything is coming together."
Espargaro, meanwhile, returns to the MotoGP stage having competed during the 2010 season for Pramac Ducati, the Spaniard spending this season participating in the Moto2 World Championship.
"First of all I am very excited to join the Aspar Team and especially to be returning to MotoGP, which is a huge source of motivation for me. In 2010 I had a pretty positive season and I would have liked to continue for another year. I think that with my height and weight I should be more suited to the category and I am sure we'll have a good year and get some great results for the Aspar Team.
“CRT is a totally new concept and we will have a lot of work to do at the start but I have joined the Aspar Team because they comes with certain guarantees and I know they won't take this challenge lightly. They are very professional and I am sure they will develop a great motorcycle. I am delighted to be involved with this new project."