MZ And Ant West Now An Official Moto2 Entry

With the official withdrawal of the Kino Racing team from the Moto2 field yesterday comes a new opportunity. To fill the place vacated by the Argentinian rider Fabrizio Perren, the first reserve rider has been allowed onto the grid, in the shape of Ant West and the MZ team. West has been testing with MZ since last year, though the team started out with one of West's former CBR600RR Stiggy Honda Supersport machines. Since then, Martin Wimmer and former 250 star Ralf Waldmann have been working on a trellis framed prototype which West has tested at Valencia, Barcelona and Jerez.

There is a certain poetic irony to the return of the MZ name to the middle class. The former East German factory revolutionized the 250s and sounded in the two stroke era when Walter Kaaden took the technology he had learned building V1 rockets and applied it to two-stroke exhausts. After a modest debut in 1957, the factory returned with a vengeance in 1958, its two-stroke engine radicalizing engine design throughout the 1960s, eventually forcing the four strokes out of the sport. It took a rule change imposed by the MSMA to finally kill off the two strokes in the intermediate class, and the introduction of the 600cc four-stroke Moto2 bikes.

And so MZ has come full circle. Once again, a poorly funded effort with a talented rider will take on the might of the established forces in Moto2 - in as far as there can be said to be any. Indeed, Ant West is also a fitting rider for the MZ effort, having been the rider who brought the Austrian KTM team back into the 250 class. So now, West takes it upon himself to bring forward another German-speaking team and develop a brand new bike. It will be fascinating to see whether the new MZ can live up to the fame of the old name.

For those of you interested in the history of MZ and how they changed motorcycle racing, see Mat Oxley's excellent book "Stealing Speed."

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A little personal story about MZ's expansion chamber. Prior to 1964 Go Kart racing in America was dominated by McCulloch chain saw engines. These were reed valve motors with ports. We ran Mikuni pumper carbs. The exhaust was nothing more then a horn. Extra power was pursued through porting, multiple carbs and race fuel. Some of us ran twin carbs off the barrel and one off the crank case. Some ran two off the bottom and two on top. The weak point of course, was going lean with all that air...and a split connecting rod. Both tended to cause spectacular failures. It was not uncommon to see crank cases patched with epoxy. The Italian Parilla motors showed up about then. They were incredibly powerful with an exhaust pipe that looked like a muffler. They made everything else obsolete. Some muffler!

I'm very much in support of them. MZ have a long and glorious but also tragic history. I sincerely hope that they can continue to take it to the field, as is their way.

Yeah, it's too bad they can't really do anything with the engine. If there is some wet races, Westy will be sure to be up front.