The Moto2 saga is edging to a conclusion, and the well-connected Italian site GPOne.com is reporting the preliminary results. GPOne.com sums the series up in Jeopardy! style: Honda, free, Ten Kate, open, today or tomorrow. Which are the one-word answers to the most important questions surrounding the class.
Put less briefly, the class will look as follows: Honda will be awarded the engine contract for the Moto2 series, and will make the engines available to Dorna. Dorna will make the engines available to the teams at zero cost. The engines will be farmed out to the Ten Kate Racing workshop in the Netherlands for maintenance, as Ten Kate have a lot of experience with Honda's four-stroke racing engines. Tires for the class will be open to competition, so there will not be a spec tire, and the decision is expected to be formally announced today or tomorrow.
With these measures, Dorna hopes to have a grid of 28 bikes competing in the Moto2 class next year, and GPOne.com says that contrary to earlier reports, the 2010 season will not see mixed grids. This means that 2010 will see the middleweight class featuring only the 600cc four strokes, with the 250cc two strokes sent off to an early grave, or more likely dispatched to race in various local series (or grace collectors' front rooms, no doubt).
Though the teams will no doubt welcome a decision, this will leave the class with two problems. The first is large, but can be overcome by a lot of hard work: The teams now have just 6 months to design and build a custom frame around an engine they have not yet seen. With the point of the class being to allow chassis experts to build a complete prototype rolling chassis for one or more teams, 6 months is not a lot of time to start almost from scratch. Some three or four bikes have already emerged, and the Blusens and LaGlisse bikes have actually hit the track in the Spanish Championship, but these were based on production engines, which will not be available for use in the new class.
Which brings us to our next problem: The Flammini brothers have always asserted that they would demand the FIM defend their interests over the new Moto2 class, a phrase which they use to mean the monopoly the World Superbike rights holders have over production-based bike racing. So far, Dorna has been very clever about avoiding any potential traps which Infront Motor Sports may have laid, and by controlling the engines, they block much of the charge that the engines are production units. After all, if they're not freely available, then they cannot be regarded as production motorcycle engines.
Meanwhile, the Flamminis will be studying the dimensions and mounting points of the spec engine carefully. If the engine is all too obviously a CBR600RR knock off, they will cry foul to the FIM, as they are believed to have done over WCM's R1 based engine. However, it shouldn't be too difficult for Honda to produce an engine with virtually the same internals, but with modified casings and a cassette gearbox which will pass the production litmus test.
But until the official announcement, we will have to wait for the response from both the teams inside the MotoGP paddock and the Flamminis. If the class is ever to get off the ground, the decision has to come very soon indeed.