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Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro to race Aspar's CRT MotoGP bikes

Randy de PunietAspar has signed Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro for its 2012 MotoGP line-up, when it will run Aprilia-powered CRT bikes.

Jorge 'Aspar' Martinez's ultra-successful lower-category team has used customer Ducatis for the first two years of its MotoGP programme, but is switching to the new lower-technology Claiming Rule Teams class for next season.

De Puniet has been in MotoGP since 2006, initially with the factory Kawasaki team, then LCR Honda, before a single season with Pramac Ducati this year. He tested for Suzuki this winter just before it withdrew its works team from MotoGP.

"I am delighted to return to the Aspar team, a team I raced with in 2005 in 250cc," said de Puniet. "I have very fond memories of that time. Together we will embark on a new challenge, CRT.

"CRT is the future of MotoGP and I think there will be a lot of work ahead, but very rewarding work. The goal for the next season will be to adapt as quickly as possible to the prototype, and gradually catch the frontrunners."

The 30-year-old Frenchman has already tested the CRT bike, and though he acknowledged that it was currently some way off the standard MotoGP machines, he is optimistic.

"Testing in Jerez was productive and I was able to get a lot of information about the bike," de Puniet said. "It's clear that we are still far from what the final motorcycle will be, but I'm very happy with how everything has happened.

"The test in Jerez gave me the opportunity to realise the enormous potential of the new concept of CRT,and I am proud to be one of the pioneering riders in this new category."

De Puniet's team-mate Espargaro will be returning to MotoGP after a year back in Moto2, having contested a season and a half with Pramac in 2009/10.

"Returning to MotoGP is a big motivation for me," said the 22-year-old Spaniard. "2010 was quite positive for me and I would have liked to stay another year. I think for my weight and my height I can adapt well to the category and the bike."

Aspar's 2011 MotoGP rider Hector Barbera has already signed for Pramac Ducati for 2012.

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