Randy de Puniet said an encouraging first test with Aspar, for whom he will compete in MotoGP next year, had left him optimistic ahead of his 2012 campaign.
De Puniet had tested for Suzuki this winter, but when the Japanese manufacturer withdrew its works team at the end of this season he announced a deal with Aspar, where he will compete alongside Aleix Espargaro. The team will use Aprilia-powered CRT bikes for 2012, which were rolled out for the first time in a private test at Jerez recently.
De Puniet admitted that the team's pace was still a long way off that of the prototypes, but that good first impressions to an overall feeling of optimism within the Aspar camp.
"It was a good first impression and so the two days were encouraging," the 30-year-old said. "We had great testing conditions for the two days, we made some progress and I had fun with this bike.
"I'm happy with my times and my pace – we are still far from the prototypes, but I think we can be pleased because it was the first time riding the bike, and it's far from the bike that it will be in January. I worked with Aspar in 2005, my last GP win was with them and it's a very competent team. I know they will do everything possible to have the best material and I'm very optimistic about this new project."
De Puniet said the test had also helped the team find the best direction to develop the bike.
"The objective of this test was to try to decide on a direction to build a chassis and I think the team now has a good idea of how to move forward," he explained. "We will do more testing at Jerez in late January, before going to Sepang with a bike that won't yet be final, as we'll continue to develop it, but it will be the basis of what we'll have next season."
Following two days of testing at Jerez, De Puniet underwent minor and successful surgery to remove the titanium rod and screw that were inserted into his left tibia as a result of an injury sustained last year at the Sachsenring. Two screws from his left ankle – the result of a motocross crash in 2009 – were also taken out.