Ten Kate Lose Interest In Moto2 Over Single Engine Proposal

When the Moto2 class was announced, the purpose behind the series was immediately clear. The introduction of a 20,000 euro engine claiming rule and the emphasis on a prototype chassis was aimed at tempting private companies into the series to build chassis for lightly tweaked production engines. After years of Aprilia being able to pick and choose winners by deciding who to supply with factory-spec 250s, and often ending up with the highest bidder, something had to be done about reducing the price of competing in MotoGP's support class.

And after the rules were announced, a number of teams and chassis builders showed an interest in the class, just as Dorna and the FIM had predicted and hoped. There was, however, a rather large fly in the ointment. The elephant in the room during all these announcements was the agreement that FGSport - now Infront Motor Sports - claims to have with the FIM, giving them the monopoly on world championship racing with production motorcycles, and allowing Dorna to race with prototypes. 

At the IRTA tests in Jerez, the FIM and Dorna shocked the motorcycle racing world by announcing a possible solution to this thorny problem: the MSMA had proposed that a single engine supplier be appointed for the class, eliminating the most costly part of running a bike in the class. A sensible proposal, and realistically the only way around the problem of using production engines, but the proposal has also had the unfortunate effect of scaring off the very people the class was intended to attract. 

The Ten Kate team, for example, had previously indicated that they were very interested in the series. But the single engine proposal had changed their minds. MotoGPMatters.com cornered Ronald and Gerrit ten Kate of the Ten Kate Honda team about the new proposals, and asked their opinion.

MotoGPMatters.com: You said earlier that you were interested in Moto2, but does the announcement that this will be a single series change anything?

Ronald ten Kate: If Honda is the engine supplier, then we could still be interested. In all the racing series we do, we're allied with Honda. If another manufacturer is selected, we definitely won't be participating. But if they do go with a single engine, then ...

Gerrit ten Kate: ... then it'll take all the fun out of it for us. It becomes a Cup series - Honda Cup, Kawasaki Cup, Suzuki Cup ...

Ronald ten Kate: We're not a mass manufacturer.

MotoGPMatters.com: Well the idea is that the series becomes interesting for chassis builders, where the chassis can make the difference. But are you more engine tuners than chassis builders, or is that exaggerating?

Ronald ten Kate: Not really. Of course it's all connected, if you take a look at what we do now, we never just sell an engine on its own. We always send out complete bikes, a complete package with customizations for riders, data packages for data engineers, we send out a complete package. But neither Gerrit or I are fans of the whole Cup-type idea. If you're going to have a single engine, why not just make it a proper Cup series, and have the rider be the differentiating factor.

Gerrit ten Kate: I think they (Dorna) have lost their way a little. Someone told me that they're just like grasshoppers, one minute they're here, the next they hop off somewhere else. They decide something, then when they hear Rossi doesn't agree with them, they say something else.

Ronald ten Kate: It's about time that the people who make decisions there engage their brains before opening their mouths. That's not happening right now. Because of the financial crisis, there's such a sense of panic, that they keep announcing news instead of staying calm, and examining the situation. The whole Moto2 situation at the moment, there's nothing there yet.

Gerrit ten Kate: They made a lot of noise about introducing Moto2 in Spain this year, but so far, there's only one bike.

Ronald ten Kate: So at the moment, Moto2 is not really interesting for us. There's so much turbulence surrounding it at the moment, it's no good.

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Sounds to me like they should stay with the 250's.

Normally you're right on the money, but this time you've kindof got a little lost. You are right, the purpose of Moto2 is to "tempt private companies..to build chassis..for tuned production engines". But then you say the single engine proposal is "scaring off the very people the class was intended to attract", which you back up with a reference to the Ten Kate's lack of interest. Sorry but please explain to me when the Ten Kate team became noted as a prototype chassis builder? As Honda production bike tuners you wouldn't expect them to have any interest unless the engine supplier happens to be Honda.

Now, as for the real "people the class was intended to attract", that is the prototype chassis builders, what could be better than a single engine? Rather than scaring them away, it's a godsend. The focus is squarely on the chassis as far as bike performance is concerned (which you point out in your Ten Kate interview).

And of course central to the "people the class was intended to attract" are the current 250 teams, who would then hire the independent chassis builders. Please remember that Moto2 is specifically NOT aimed at supersport teams, in that Moto2 grid places go first to current 250 and MotoGP teams, and new entrants will only be considered after the GP teams have been given the option to enter.

I still see a lot of interest in the class and I think it will work. Granted, whether it's single engine or not can change the mix of exactly who is interested, depending on brand-loyalties and focus (whether you're a team, rider, constructor, or a mass manufacturer). But the bottom-line interest in a proper adjustable racing bike with a cost-controlled engine is still there, regardless of whether supersport teams are interested or not.

 I think you are being a little unfair on Ten Kate. They are very much more than a Supersport team. They design and build custom parts for Supersport and Superbike machinery, everything from engine parts to chassis parts to suspension. Knowing what I do about Ten Kate, they are in the same league as the classic chassis builders such as Harris, with the added ability to run a ruthlessly efficient race team.

You are right that the prototype chassis builders are the target market, and that a single engine could work into their hands. But my fear is that race teams are not interested in competition, but in domination, RSA style. People spend a lot of money to go racing, and want a return on their investment. An exciting dice for 10th is not what they had in mind. A runaway victory by 30 seconds is more what they are after.

Yep, that's exactly the point! If it's more difficult to build an all-conquering bike (viz Aprilia RSA) more of the teams will have more of a chance to be at the front. Closer racing, more focus on the rider, more focus on the team's setup ability.

If they're serious about cost cutting, a one engine formula is a perfect route forward. Of course it would need to be made by someone OUTSIDE of the current membership of the MSMA. Following the model proposed by the FIA for F1 would be ideal. This would leave the focus on rider and chassis without the weaknesses of a 'cup' formula or use of production hardware and provide a formula significantly superior in technical challenge, interest and speed to Supersport.

Oh dear I'm getting lost again. Exactly what are you saying? I intended no disrespect of Ten Kate and their tuning skills. If they are up for it they need only take their "...chassis parts to suspension parts..." along with their ruthlessly efficient team to Moto2 and have a go, provided they can get an entry (unfortunately as it stands, it appears they will have to leave their engine parts back in Nederland).

Once again you are exactly right, race teams desire domination above all else, but I think it's not a fear, it's a fact of life (well, racing life..:-)). However, IF it's managed correctly (and that's far from certain yet) the good old RSA-style runaway 30-second victory you mention should be much, much harder to come by when your Moto2 engine is roughly the same as the rest of the grid, and victory depends more on your chassis setup and your rider.

If someone does get the runaway victory they feel is their just return on investment, then the most likely reason should be that they have discovered the next Valentino (or Troy, or whoever) - and isn't that what the class is all about?? We all know it's not about cutting-edge technical development and who-can-spend-the-most-to-find-horsepower, it's a rider development class, much more so than SS where the chassis is non-adjustable. Long may it be so, and if they desire the utter domination of technical advantage, then there's a MotoGP class awaiting them.

I have a feeling we agree here (?). Moto2 is intended to develop riders and teams, MotoGP is the progression if you want to indulge in conspicuous technological development. I think the teams understand this, so the fact that a 250/Moto2 team can't spend cubic euros to dominate by engine development is not really a disincentive for them to enter the class.

I think we do agree, actually. I can see that a spec engine could be good for the class, and allow chassis builders to showcase their talent. At the same time, it is also scaring off another class of potential entrants into the class, who are interested in showcasing their tuning skills. The 20K euro engine claiming rule would be enough to discourage companies from throwing cubic euros at the engines, and look for the difference elsewhere.

The tragedy of the Moto2 class is that it would be absolutely perfect with lightly modified road engines. But at the first sign of an engine that looked like it had just been in the same room as a road bike, the Flamminis will be along with a lorry load of lawyers to stop the fun. Which leaves a spec engine as possibly the only viable route for the class. It's just a shame that this will prevent potential new entrants - such as Ten Kate or perhaps even Yoshimura - which have strong links to a particular manufacturer from participating.

And in all honesty, I posted the original article late at night, and was probably not at my most coherent. I should go back and look at it again.

Valid points gents.
What is really scaring everyone off is the changing of rules on what now seems to be a quarterly basis. Haven't they all learned a lesson by now? The rules for Moto2 had great potential for low cost Grand Prix / TV exposure compared to what it takes to be one of the annointed ones who gets an Aprilia RSA. A lease, give the bike back at the end of the year, will cost about 1.3M for said Aprilia.

So, to avoid the problem with 'screamin' meemies', I mean Flamminis, and thier attorneys, we designed our own V4-600 in our own chassis all within the rules and well within the claiming rules. I will be happy to sell our motor at the end of a race as Cosomoto will make a profit. Unfortunately our idea of circumnavigating the potential law suits affects does not seem to be working. I am open to suggestions.

www.moto2-usa.com Check it out. More to come.

A spec motor will create a bastard cup series.

Scott Kolb

The idea of a spec engine for GP racing is just distasteful. GP racing is about innovation and allowing different solutiuons to compete to see which is best. Having a cost and specification cap does not end innovtion, it just makes it happen more efficiently. Having a spec engine completely cuts out the possibility of innovation. It changes the series from a GP status to a cup status, not at all what is needed at his level of racing.

That said, why can't the factories produce a production race engine for under 20k? I can. There are aftermarket suppliers (hint- non-production source) for everything from pistons, conrods, valves, springs, and cams, to transmissions and clutches, so all that is really needed is needed is a crankcase, head and crank. How much effort would it take Honda or any other manufacturer to massage the crankcase CAD for their supersport 600 engine and produce sand cast parts from it? Even a casting house could enter the fray with minimal outlay. These would not be production parts but economical race engines. Each manufacturer could do it for a minimal investment and be able to have some inexpensive advertizing presence in the new class and not squeeze out the small guys like myself trying to make a name. Likely 90%+ of the paddock would choose that solution, more than enough to have a good customer base without totally eliminating any other suppliers through a spec engine rule. Once the Moto2 series catches on and creates national feeder series throughout Europe and the US the market for these engines will only increase.

It seems that the spec engine rule is not in anyone's interest but the company that stands to gain the contract. I wonder who that will be.

Chris Cosentino


Pretty damn good argument, Chris. I can only imagine how immensely annoying it must be to do something different--something probably better, but regardless, something DIFFERENT--and then to have doors shut in your face.

Trying to get people to try something they haven't tried, to change their actions or thoughts in some way, shape, or form...it's like...I'm not gonna go there.

I like the chassis, and I really like the engine. Wouldn't it be really awesome if Dorna actually DID something for the good of the racers? They could put Moto GP back to 990cc, they could put in a similar electronics package to WSBK, and/or they could let their "affordable" new Moto2 class actually be open to people who otherwise couldn't afford to race!

This really winds me up.

You have my total respect, Chris.

I'm gonna go back to making myself feel better about life...by snickering about how the "fastest, most powerful bike" in MotoGP is going to get hammered this year by the "not-the-fastest, not-the-most-powerful bike".

It's the rider, boys...