You may have noticed that pre-season testing resumes this week at the Sepang International Circuit. If you are anything like me, you've no doubt been counting down the days between fly-tipping the Christmas tree (Disclaimer: No fly tipping actually took place) and having some actual, bona fide MotoGP action to mull over. Just knowing that most of the main players in the premier class will be back on track with their 1000cc bikes is an exciting prospect.
So exciting, in fact, that you'll probably have tracked down at least the first day's timesheet to see what happened in Malaysia by the time you read this. You'll have seen who has turned up and who has suffered the inevitable bout of food poisoning which seems to plague at least one rider every time they change continents.
Closer to home, there is another intriguing private CRT test that will kick off on Monday. I spoke to one of the key men behind the Aspar Team project, Gino Borsoi, this past Friday to get an update about their new venture and why they chose not to head to the guaranteed warm conditions of Asia for their first run-out.
"We aren't going to Sepang simply because we would have had to send all our materials in advance; the bike was finished this past week," Borsoi told me.
"This test in Malaysia will show us whether we need more changes and we are still preparing spare parts, so that ruled test number two at Sepang out as well. It's a new bike and we can't run the risk of going all that way and then not having something that we need. Sending and changing pieces is easier in Europe and that margin for correction matters a lot to us."
Don't expect to see the biggest CRT outfit on the grid undertaking any private tests outside of Europe this pre-season. Their schedule is currently to head to Valencia, Jerez and Aragon before the MotoGP official test — only one more run than the factory teams at a more advanced stage of development.
Borsoi and the Aspar Team — one of the most successful in the history of grand prix motorcycle racing — remain convinced that the late switch from Ducati satellite team to CRT was the correct choice.
"Maybe we could have got better results this year with a satellite bike, but you never know. We will have a competitive bike and there will be races in which we will fight for good positions. We want to be at the forefront, and if CRT is the future then the best thing to do is dive straight in, even if the first step will be hard.
Riled West shot out of MotoGP
"How's it going, Ant?"
"Yeah, it's alright. Bike's no good."
"Keep at it mate, someone will see what you can do. Where are you staying?"
"Motorhome. Haven't got the money for a hotel or flights. (Insert name of previous team here) still haven't paid me for last year."
A typical conversation with Anthony West in his garage during pre-season testing at any time in the past six years: a script more formulaic than that of a Scooby Doo episode. A rider/journalist's rider rather than a sponsor's dream, the Australian has seen history repeat itself in 2012.
The Speed Master CRT ride wasn't ever going to be West's chance to make a title push in the premier class, but neither should it have been the lobby of the MotoGP exit door. In fact, even though he is a rider whose career has had as many last-ditch comebacks as it has disappointing fall-throughs, the 30-year-old may just be out of the World Championship for good.
"I had my car, motocross bike and my house for sale trying to keep the ride and even gave the house as a guarantee if I did not find the money, but [it] was not enough," he said in his statement last Friday.
Plans to sell space on his bike and leathers had been the warning sign. If the 2010 team world champions couldn't find a title sponsor for their 2011 defence, then imagine what the situation must be like for the less celebrated riders.
For the man who spent a 'year out' working for McDonald's after his Honda team pulled out of MotoGP in 2002, this may very well be a permanent move back to real life. You wouldn't blame him for not wanting another season with a temporary team.
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