Prior to the 2010 season, the Moto2 class spawned a huge burst of creativity, with 13 chassis builders supplying teams for the inaugural season. But by the combined processes of attrition and fear of not having what someone else had, that number had been whittled away, and the provisional entry list for the 2011 season featured just 7 chassis.
That number looks likely to be cut down to just 6: MotoMatters.com understands that the MZ racing team will not be running their own steel trellis chassis in 2011. Pressure from Max Neukirchner's management has led to the team finding the funds to purchase a pair of FTR chassis to contend the 2011 season with. Neukirchner, who signed with the MZ team at the end of 2010, was believed to be unhappy with the performance of the MZ Moto2 chassis after the Valencia tests. Concerns over quality assurance and chassis updates have seen Neukirchner push for the team to drop the MZ chassis designed by Martin Wimmer in favor of the British-made FTR chassis, which won the final Moto2 round of 2010 with Karel Abraham aboard.
There is still some uncertainty over whether Neukirchner's teammate Ant West will also be switching to the FTR. West's management told MotoMatters.com that at this point, West will still be testing the 2011 MZ chassis at the official IRTA test at Jerez next week, though West is also rumored to be unhappy with the development of the steel trellis frame. A pair of 2010-spec FTR Moto2 machines is rumored to be on its way to Jerez, with one of the machines earmarked for Neukirchner, and the other optionally available for West.
The problem for the MZ team is mainly one of branding. MZ are examining a return to producing motorcycles, and fielding a race bike with a chassis from another manufacturer would not be the ideal solution for marketing the brand. But a solution could be found for MZ's problems, along the lines of the IODA and Speed Up teams. Both Speed Up and IODA will be running FTR M211 machines for 2011, but the bikes will be entered under the IODA and Speed Up names. Max Neukirchner could be entered as riding an MZ-FTR, much as the current machine is branded as an MZ-RE Honda.
With the defection of the MZ team, the number of chassis makers in Moto2 would be down to 6, less than half the number who started the 2010 season. The number of FTRs on the grid would rise to 12, or 11 if West was forced to stick with the MZ chassis. That would put FTR second to Suter, the Swiss firm having 13 bikes on the grid for 2011. Moriwaki is the 3rd largest chassis builder, with just 6 bikes entered for 2011, while Kalex has doubled its 2010 entry from 2 to 4 bikes. Tech 3 will be entering 3 chassis, and Motobi - actually a TSR chassis - will have just a single bike, in the capable hands of Alex de Angelis.