Triumph have finally confirmed the intense rumours that have been coursing through the MotoGP paddock are true – they are the new engine supplier for Moto2, with the switch from Honda happening for the 2019 season.
It’s an incredibly bold step back into world-class racing for the British manufacturer, elevating the Hinckley firm from low-level racing support of supersport teams on short circuits and in road racing, to a position firmly under the biggest spotlight in racing.
Road-bred Triumph Moto2 race engine
The engine that will power the entire Moto2 grid for the three-year deal is derived from the new Street Triple RS 765cc road engine – and the changes are fewer than you might imagine.
In road trim Triumph claim performance figures of 121bhp and 56.7ftlb, (while MCN’s dyno measured our test bike at 125.8bhp and 59ftlb, see p36). But for the Moto2 engine the firm has pushed those claimed figures out to 131bhp and 59ftlb by making a few key changes to the engine’s ability to breathe harder and burn more fuel – combined with fewer electronic restrictions. The inlet and exhaust valves are both bigger than stock, the valves are now titanium to reduce inertia, and they use stiffer springs to allow a higher (undisclosed) rev ceiling. And more revs means more peak power.
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Other key changes include the use of a tuneable FCC slipper clutch, and a race kit alternator that helps reduce inertia, while the new alternator cover can now be slimmer to improve ground clearance. The sump has been redesigned, too – maintaining the same volume, but having a flatter symmetrical profile to allow teams the option of routing the exhaust headers down either side of the bike.
Supply and demand
While Triumph can’t confirm exact numbers, there is a minimum supply agreement for 34 teams in Moto2, which equates to around 150 engines needed to feed the grid, along with service kits to keep them refreshed. These engines will be delivered to ExternPro in Spain, the independent firm that already builds and maintains engines for the series under contract to Dorna. Triumph will supply the engine in kit form, and these will then be built up and supplied to teams in exactly the same way that Honda’s units are currently.
“It is incredibly exciting to be working with the iconic Triumph motorcycle company in supplying engines for Moto2,” says Trevor Morris, Technical Director at ExternPro. “I have been a fan of the triple for a long time, its unique characteristics and performance will ensure and enhance the future success of the championship.”
While the engine parts are being bred for racing, they will be produced by Triumph’s existing production facilities in the UK (for camshafts, crankshafts and conrods) and Thailand (for castings, crankcases, and machined heads) – with other common parts coming from existing suppliers, and new partners such as FCC.
There’s still a long way to go until the first grid of Moto2 bikes will form up displaying their ‘Powered by Triumph’ decals. Amazingly, first discussions took place less than a year ago, with development starting almost immediately. “We started developing the Street Triple 765 three years ago, but we only started working on the Moto2 engine about a year ago after discussions with Dorna,” says Steve Sargent, Triumph’s Chief Product Officer and one of the key drivers for the Moto2 project. “It’s derived from the RS engine, but we have made changes to give Dorna what they want in terms of an engine they believe will deliver an exciting race series. We’ve worked on delivering more power, more torque, increasing the revs, and reducing the inertia so the engine spins up faster. We’ve seen over 131bhp on the dyno, but still have over 12 months of development to go.” The development team is entirely based in-house at Triumph in the UK, and comprises around six members of the firm’s top engineers.
While teams and frame builders won’t receive engines for some time yet, Triumph will now feed them with technical information to start the process of redesigning their bikes. “We’re putting together an information kit for the teams now with key dimensions they need for chassis design. We’ll also supply them with external CAD data to allow them to package fairings around the engine,” says Sargent. “The main difference the teams will notice is where the frame-to-engine mount points are. That will set them a bit of a challenge to get the stiffness they need. Hopefully it will inspire more chassis builders to come into the series, too.” But Triumph aren’t planning to be one of them. “It’s not in the spirit of the series to come in as the official engine supplier and to also have a chassis package. A lot of the other teams would probably cry foul in that scenario. We won’t enter a team in 2019 – whether we might at a later stage is something we’ll have to think about.”
But the lack of team access doesn’t mean there’s been no testing. While Triumph don’t have a Moto2 chassis, they have been testing the new engine (one of three built so far) in a modified Daytona 675 chassis on track with 2009 125cc World Champion and Moto2 runner-up, Julian Simon. “He was grinning from ear-to-ear when he got off the bike,” says Sargent. “The engine feels strong and in particular the mid-range is very impressive,” adds Simon. “The feel between the throttle and the rear wheel is very direct and controllable. The general feeling is very good and the engine shows great potential.”
Moto2 is a big stage, which could bring huge development opportunities for the brand, and which exposes them to extreme scrutiny, but Triumph have no concerns over reliability. “We have a huge pedigree with racing,” says Paul Stroud, Triumph Chief Commercial Officer. “What this gives us is a chance to promote Triumph to a global audience of more than 34 million race fans. We have had a lot of success on the track with the 675 engine, and we haven’t had major or minor reliability issues.”
“If you think about some of the places we’ve been racing: the TT, one of the toughest races; Daytona 200, one of the longest and toughest races; the NW200 – that engine has proven itself around the world,” adds Sargent. “We want to go into this with 100% reliable engines, and we have a test programme to ensure that happens.”
“Moto2 is a key category in feeding talent into MotoGP," adds Herve Poncharal, President of IRTA. “We’re seeing a lot of top riders in MotoGP all come through the intermediate category. The arrival of Triumph as the sole engine supplier and with new ECU’s in the intermediate class, marks a new era that is sure to prove another incredible step in its evolution, making it remain the ultimate category on the way to MotoGP.”
So where’s the new Triumph Daytona 765?
With so much focus on performance, will the firm’s Daytona supersport bike feature as either the chicken or the egg in the Moto2 engine story? “We’re not commenting on product plans,” comes the answer after a short silence. “In the last 12 months we’ve launched 14 new models,” says Stroud “our plans going forward are equally as exciting.”
The project is likely to have reinvigorated interest at Triumph in the future of the Daytona. The 675 engine doesn’t meet Euro4, but can be sold under derogation until 2019 – the same year in which Triumph will blast onto the world racing stage in Moto2.
That almost guarantees that it’ll be replaced by the 765, doesn’t it? Well, no – but we wouldn’t bet against it. While the supersport market is in a malaise so deep that it’s hard to imagine why any firms are bothering, the example Ducati have set with oversized mid-capacity sportsbikes – and the common acceptance that litre-class superbikes are just ‘too much’ on the road – makes the thought of a Daytona 765 truly mouth-watering.
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