Aspar's Aleix Espargaro believes the CRT machines have taken a 'huge step forward' after the opening round of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar.

Espargaro, last year's inaugural CRT class winner, finished 11th on his ART behind Ben Spies on the Pramac Racing Ducati and ahead of team-mate and nearest CRT challenger Randy de Puniet.

The Spanish rider was 49 seconds behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo on the Factory Yamaha Racing YZR-M1, a result he hailed as 'quite an achievement' and one that is reflective of the progress made by the CRT teams.

Espargaro, who battled valiantly to keep Spies behind him until the American used the superior speed of his Desmosedici to overtake at the end of the long straight at Losail, said: "Obviously we always want more, and we've been left wanting more tonight.

"We were hoping to fight against some of the MotoGP riders.

"The thing that made that so tough was that we CRT riders lose a lot of distance on the straight and have to take risks on the corners," he added.

"I took advantage of a mistake by Spies to pass him, then I pushed like crazy and I held on for a bit, but eventually he overtook me again at the end of the straight.

"Realistically, we have to be satisfied with our result," said Espargaro.

"We have every reason to be very happy, at a circuit as long as this, with a finish just 49 seconds behind the winner. It is quite an achievement.

"Clearly, we have taken a huge step up from last season."

Espargaro is also pleased to have eliminated some of the chatter problems that he faced last season.

"We could not have started better here, and I am particularly pleased that we have solved a lot of our chattering problems.

"We leave here as leaders of the CRT standings, so it was 'job done'."

His team-mate, Randy de Puniet, rued an airbox issue eight laps from the end that prevented him from challenging Espargaro for the top CRT spot.

"If on Thursday, after the first practice session, I had been told that I would end the weekend as well as I did, then I would have been happy," he said.

"Throughout the weekend, mainly yesterday, we improved our confidence issues with the front end.

"Today I had a good feeling during the first three parts of the race, I could stick with my teammate Aleix and, although he escaped slightly, I could reel him back in," added De Puniet.

"However, with eight laps to go I started having problems with the left handers, as I just couldn't turn into them.

"Later, with eight laps to go, I started to have chatter problems and lost almost two seconds per lap.

"It seemed like the air intake had come unstuck, which impeded me from turning the bars and led to a lot of bouncing.

"It's a shame, as I could have stayed with Aleix throughout if not."


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