De Puniet, Espargaro to Aspar MotoGP

Henny Ray Abrams | November 26, 2011

The most successful team owner in the paddock increased his stable by one by adding a second rider in the MotoGP class in 2012.Jorge “Aspar” Martinez, the only team owner to compete in all three World Championship classes, has gone from one rider (Hector Barbera) on a Ducati GP11 prototype to two riders aboard Claiming Rules Team (CRT) machines for 2012.Veteran MotoGP campaigner Frenchman Randy de Puniet returns to the team he last rode for in 2005, while Spaniard Aleix Espargaro comes back to the team he briefly raced for in 2009. In 2011, his sixth year in the MotoGP class, De Puniet, 30, finished 16th racing the Ducati GP11 for the Pramac Racing Team. Espargaro, 22, finished the Moto2 season 12th overall for the Pons Kalex team. The Spaniard raced a partial MotoGP season for Pramac Ducati in 2009, as well as two races for the Aspar team, and a full MotoGP season in 2010.The Aspar Team will race on Aprilia-powered machines. Though no chassis maker was revealed., it will almost certainly be an Aprilia prototype chassis. De Puniet recently tested the Aspar Aprilia in Jerez, Spain, though the team didn’t release times.”We have already tested and gathered a lot of good feedback,” de Puniet said in a team release. “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.”Said Espargaro, “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.”Unofficial 2012 MotoGP Rider List1 Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) Honda RC213V

4 Andrea Dovizioso (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) Yamaha YZR-M1

5 Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing) Suter/BMW

8 Hector Barbera (Pramac Racing Team) Ducati GP12

9 Danilo Petrucci (Ioda Racing Project) Aprilia

11 Ben Spies (Yamaha) Yamaha YZR-M1

14 Randy de Puniet (Aspar Team) Aprilia

17 Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) Ducati GP12

19 Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini) Honda RC213V

26 Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) Honda RC213V

31 Carmelo Morales (Team Laglisse) Suter/BMW

35 Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) Yamaha YZR-M1

41 Aleix Espargaro (Aspar Team) Aprilia

46 Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro) Ducati GP12

51 Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini) FTR MGP12/Honda

65 Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) Honda RC213V

68 Yonny Hernandez (BQR) FTR/Kawasaki

69 Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) Ducati GP12

77 James Ellison (Paul Bird Motorsports) Aprilia

99 Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) Yamaha YZR-M1



Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.