Moto2 - An Exciting Racing Future

Now that the FIM and Dorna have unveiled their replacement for the 250GP class, the second tier of the World Championships could get really interesting again.

With their proposal of 600 four stroke engines, from any source, in a prototype frame, older frame manufacturers and new teams can easily get involved again. This will be just like the old Formula 2 championship from the early 1980’s, when standard road bike crankcases had to be used but everything else was free.

Moriwaki have already unveiled their bike, based on a Honda CBR600 engine, and Bimota are getting interested. These are two companies that used to be heavily involved in international racing, but over recent years have been unable to successfully run a team due to complications beyond their control. With the present Moto2 proposals, engines will have a claiming rule, where any team can buy another team’s engine for 20,000 euros. While this should put a limit on engine development, things don’t always work out as planned.

No small team would want to spend 40,000 euros on an engine, and have to sell it to a competitor for 20,000, but some larger well funded teams might think this is worth the cost of winning. When this engine is bought, what state will it be in? Will it be able to complete the season, or will it need a rebuild? Will the team that supplied it be able to rebuild it in time for the next race, or will they be conveniently too busy?

Let’s look at this ruling from the other side. Imagine a small team who manage to build a race winning engine for 16,000 euros, and are forced to sell it for 20,000. “Great!” they’re thinking, “We’ve just made 4000 euros towards our racing budget, let’s just build another one.”. This is good for the first couple of sales, but after that, the team are spending more time building new engines than looking after their own racing bikes. What happens if the team can’t supply another engine due to time constraints, will they get penalised for building a good engine within budget?

The engines are to have a maximum capacity of 600cc, but be of any configuration, with different rev. limits. Strangely, the more cylinders the engine has, up to a maximum of four, the higher the limit. This means four cylinders immediately have an advantage, while engines with less cylinders need a capacity advantage to compete with a lower rev limit.

The other problem with this rule is that any manufacturers who do not currently make a four cylinder 600cc engine, are shut out of the series. This is not good news for Aprilia and KTM who are currently keeping the 250 class going. What are they supposed to do, just quit or use another manufacturers engine. Developing a brand new engine will definitely exceed the 20,000 euro limit. I propose the engines should be production based 600cc fours, 675cc triples, and 750cc twins, with different rev limits for all three. The engines are to have control ECU’s anyway, so the rev limits can easily be set. Now nearly all manufacturers can enter an engine from a standard production bike.

These engines can go to private teams who will construct the rest of the bike to their own design. To keep the costs down without having a claiming rule, there could be minimum weights and sizes for all the major engine components. This would stop expensive exotic materials being used. What’s the point of having expensive titanium components, if they have to be the same weight as the steel originals. Restrictions like these allow parts to be changed for reliability, but there’ll be no performance gain.

Consider all the teams and manufacturers who could now enter, to give the class some real depth. Harris have been building racing frames for many years, and now they could build frames for any of the available engines. Spondon could build a frame under the banner of Norton, their sister company these days, with a Triumph 675 engine, to create a reborn Triton.

Norton’s new boss says he wants to get back into racing on the world stage, and what easier way than this. Bimota would likely build customer chassis kits, in the same way as they did with the YB3, for riders like Randy Mamola in the 350 World Championship years ago. No doubt these bikes would form the basis for some beautiful road bikes.

Aprilia already have a 750cc V-twin, so a racing bike could be formed from that. Maybe that engine would fit into an RS250 frame with a bit of work, and go on to become a new production model. KTM don’t currently have an engine in their range that would be suitable, but their 950cc twin could possibly be reduced to 750cc for minimal cost. In the same way, BMW have an 800cc twin in their range that could become 750cc with a different bore or crank.

Ducati used to have the 748, but now that’s evolved into the 848, the parts are still there to build a 748/848 hybrid for minimal cost. Let’s not forget all the European frame manufacturers who made GP bikes in the past. In these times of global recession, is this what we need to kick start the industry back into life, with exciting, competitive racing for very little cost. If all this worked out, there’d be more different bikes than grid positions, and any team could construct a bike of their own design and be competitive.

There’d be no need to sweet talk the manufacturers, in the hope of gaining some works equipment, just to get into the top ten. Any manufacturers could come and go as they pleased, while the racing would still go on at a decent level. It will be sad to see 250 two strokes go, but what is the cost to manufacturers and privateers these days, with engines that are no longer of any relevance to the emission restricted road bikes. Let the new Championship begin.

Dan D

Reader's article

By Dan D