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Apr 1, 2013

Randy De Puniet Says New MotoGP Qualifying Format Will Give Good Exposure To CRT Entries

MotoGP World Championship: CRT-class rider Randy De Puniet (14) on his Power Electronics Aspar ART-Aprilia at Sepang.
'I WANT TO BE THE BEST CRT RIDER THIS YEAR'

Not a single race went by last year when Randy de Puniet did not challenge his team-mate Aleix Espargaró for the honour of being the top CRT rider in the MotoGP World Championship and the pair were separated at the end of the campaign by just a handful of points. After setting the fastest time amongst the CRT riders on track in the second Malaysia test and again at Jerez. One of the most experienced riders on the grid the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar man is aiming to go one better than last year and beat his Spanish team-mate to the CRT 'title', starting with a good result in the opening round in Qatar this weekend.

Preseason is over at last. How would you summarise winter testing?

We haven't had much luck with the weather over the nine days. At the first test in Malaysia we struggled for grip but in the second test we did much better, especially on the last day. At Jerez we also had quite a lot of rain but like in Malaysia we had a positive final day.

Ready for the first GP of the year?

Yeah sure, we're ready. I would have liked more dry track time in preseason to test more things but that's the situation we're in and we have to move forward with what we have.

What would make Randy De Puniet happy on Monday morning in Qatar?

Knowing I'd finished as the top CRT rider on Sunday night.

Who do you see as the title favourites this year in MotoGP?

The two factory Honda riders and the two factory Yamaha riders. Of the four I think Pedrosa and Lorenzo are slightly ahead.

What is the new ART like?

The 2012 version ART was already a great bike within the restrictions of the category. The new bike is not that different, it just has more options in terms of the set-up. You can play around with the geometry more, it is stiffer and in my opinion it will again be the best CRT bike out there.

In what other ways is it different to last year's bike?

The swingarm is a big improvement and like I said the chassis offers more set-up alternatives.

What are its strong points and where can it be improved?

It handles really well, it has a huge torsional capacity and that enables you to maintain good speed all the way through the corner. It would be nice to have a little more power and even though the electronics are good it could still be improved.

What's your objective for 2013?

To be the top CRT rider at the end of the year.

Last year you were the only rider who seriously challenged Aleix to be top CRT. . .

After a year of learning all the teams have a better grasp of CRT and they will be more determined this year. I think there will be more riders in the mix to be top CRT, it will be much more interesting. As much as I would like to see the competition improve I hope the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team repeat our double from last year, although in reverse positions with myself ahead of Aleix.

What do you think about the new qualifying format?

I'm looking forward to getting to Qatar and seeing how it works. I think the first session will give some good exposure to the CRT bikes and if we can do a good job and make it into the second session that will be a nice bonus, in terms of on-screen time. It should be more intense and more fun.

What do you think about the new soft tyre compound that will be available to the CRTs?

It's great for us. We had a lot of problems last year because we couldn't use the hard compound so we were running out of tyres over the weekend. Having a soft compound exclusively for us means that we can work hard in every session without worrying about saving tyres, as well as getting closer to the prototypes in qualifying. At circuits where the temperature is not too high we can also considering using the softs in the race and hopefully close the gap to the guys in front.