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Aspar confirms CRT riders for 2012

Team Aspar announces a two-man line-up for the 2012 MotoGP World Championship season with Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro riding its Aprilia-engined CRT entry.

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."

Though the CRT concept has been a discussion point over the season, not least because early tests of the prototype chassis-production engine combination have been well down on pace compared to the current machines, Aspar's defection follows PBM, Speed Master and Forward Racing confirming its place, while Gresini has also announced it will enter a CRT machine alongside a Honda for Alvaro Bautista.

For team manager Jorge 'Aspar' Martinez, CRT was the logical decision with regards to the future direction of MotoGP and the opportunity to expand.

"We are really happy because we find ourselves with a brand new challenge ahead of us and we have full faith that CRT is the future of MotoGP, which is why we are amongst the first to join this initiative. As a team we continue to grow and after having a single rider for our first two seasons in MotoGP we will now have two in Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro.

"I am pleased to welcome Randy back to the team; he was already with us back in 2005 and we have good memories. Aleix was also with us in 2009 although it was only for two races. We are sure that this will be a successful project with the riders we have but also with the engine supplier, which will be Aprilia.

"We always wanted to stick with them for this project because of the fabulous relationship we have with them and their pedigree in the smaller classes. Our objective this season is to be the best CRT team and to prepare for another step forward in 2013.

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