Aleix Espargaro made a small piece of history by becoming the first CRT rider to lead a MotoGP
race at Valencia on Sunday, en route
to securing the top 2012 privateer title.
Granted it was in special circumstances, due to the drying track, but the prototype riders Espargaro overtook on the opening lap were also using wet tyres.
The home star remained at the front of the MotoGP
field - ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, Casey Stoner, Valentino Rossi
and Jorge Lorenzo
(slicks) - until lap 3 when he began dropping back and, like the other wet tyre starters, was forced to pit for his dry bike.
Espargaro went onto finish eleventh, one place ahead of Aspar Aprilia team-mate Randy de Puniet, who was the only rider that could have beaten him to top CRT in the final 2012 standings.
“I am very happy, because finally we were able to claim the prize for best CRT riders of the year,” said Espargaro, who finished twelve points ahead of de Puniet and twelfth out of 27 riders in the overall MotoGP
“The race was very strange, as on the grid I was a little nervous about the tyre choice. I knew that I could go faster with the slicks, but it was very risky so I used the wets.
“Once the race began, I focused on going as hard as I could until the tyre went off, then I changed bikes. I concentrated on catching Randy [who started on slicks] and when I passed him I relaxed a bit to enjoy the race and finish as high up as possible.
“I think that we have had a formidable season and that this has been reflected with the best CRT prize.
“The most important thing is that the team has supported me, which I value a lot. Jorge gave me a lot of confidence from the start and I want to thank him and enjoy having reached our goal.”
The CRT ('Claiming Rule Team') category was introduced for MotoGP
this season, without which there would have only been twelve factory-built bikes on the grid.
The nine CRTs used modified superbike engines in a prototype chassis and were given fuel and engine change concessions relative to the 'full' manufacturer prototypes from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
The Aprilia ART comfortably won the CRT Constructors' title, scoring 100 points relative to 43 for FTR.