Brand New FB Corse Bike To Join MotoGP Grid In 2010?

The one complaint that has dogged the MotoGP series all this year is the number of bikes on the grid. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta had to use all of his powers of persuasion - including some of the darker arts at his disposal - to keep at least one Kawasaki on the grid and keep the numbers up to 18. All of his hard work went to waste by mid-season, when the fickle construction mogul Francisco Hernando pulled the plug on his eponymous team, leaving Sete Gibernau stranded and the grid down to 17.

Since then, the Grand Prix Commission has been hard at work looking for ways to increase the grid again. Using production engines in prototype chassis was one idea that was mooted, a move the MSMA countered with a proposal to lease engines without chassis at a much more affordable cost. That the MSMA has a different definition of "affordable" became apparent at Indianapolis, where the price for a single engine being bandied about was in the region of 700,000 euros, or about 65% of an entire bike.

Things may not be as bad as they seem, though. For a new team could enter the 2010 MotoGP championship, in the shape of former World Superbike team FB Corse. Today, the team announced that they were aiming to enter the series next season, with a bike built and designed by the Italian team themselves. The bike is an in-line three-cylinder four stroke, designed by Mauro Forghieri of the Oral Engineering Group, an engineer with a history in Ferrari's Formula One program, as well as having designed engines for Bugatti and Lamborghini. According to the published specifications, the engine will produce over 150 kW, or between 200 and 210 horsepower, a number which seems to be around 10% below what the current crop of bikes on the grid are producing. According to, this was the three-cylinder engine that BMW was building its MotoGP project around, before the German company switched tacks and aimed at racing in World Superbikes instead.

The bike has a couple of interesting innovations, one of which has actually caused the team a serious problem. The bike uses a hydraulically-actived semi-automatic six speed gearbox, but hydraulically controlled clutches were banned at a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission ealier this year. As a consequence, a shakedown test planned for the Valencia Grand Prix has had to be postponed while a solution is being sought. Dorna CEO is very keen to see more bikes on the grid, so no doubt negotiations are underway to make sure the bike could be made legal somehow.

No riders have yet been named by the team, but as the bike is an all-Italian project - the FB Corse team ran in the Italian Superbike championship with Giovanni Bussei (probably the coolest motorcycle racer on the planet) and Mauro Sanchini, and were involved in the DFX Corse World Superbike effort this year - it is very likely that the team will want an Italian rider. This would put Alex de Angelis in the hot seat for the ride, if the Italian is left without a bike with one of the existing teams in 2010. However, Roger Burnett, James Toseland's manager, told the BBC that he was also looking at a "new MotoGP project" without mentioning any names, and this could potentially be the project he was referring to.

There are photos of the project over on both and on, and there are apparently more details on the FB Corse website. However, given that the FB Corse website is an unusable Flash monstrosity (though very pretty to look at), those details and photos were hard to find.

Specifications, as so far revealed:


  • 3 cylinder in-line four stroke
  • Capacity: 797.99 cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 90 x 41.8 mm
  • Compression ratio: 13.9:1
  • Power: Over 150 kW @ 18,000 rpm
  • Pneumatic valves
  • Electro-mechanically operated variable length intake trumpets
  • Ride by wire mechanically operated throttle actuation
  • 6-speed semi-automatic gearbox
  • Magnetti Marelli ECU


  • Aluminum box section frame
  • Wet weight: 143 kg


  • Carbon fiber bodywork
  • Cx 0.22 in a wind tunnel without a rider, 0.27 with a rider

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,,not one to be the eternal skeptic DE, but hasn't this song been sung before.,, and what happens when this new team tests this winter and laps an Ilmor like 3 seconds plus per lap around the track slower than race pace? Does the plug get pulled? Starting from scratch is noble and all,, but, when Kawasaki churns out a turnkey competitive package,, without even trying, why would someone try to re-invent the wheel. Even with the vast knowledge Aprilia has, they couldn't make a winner with a triple. It just seems that stuffing euro notes into an intake plenum without the benefit of bike sales as a return on investment is a recipe for doom.

I hope I am wrong on my take,, I really liked the RS cube..

"why would someone try to re-invent the wheel?" This reminds me of MotoCzysz (some might also cite Buell, but at least they are producing bikes and are somewhat competitive). I am all for innovation and the efforts of the Davids versus the Goliaths, but the track record of that crowd is not good.

If you stcuk the pics of the bike in front of me and asked me to, in 5 seconds or less tell you what it was, I would say that looks like a 2006 Honda with crazy bodywork on it.

When taking a closer look, some of the dimensional similarities are there but the bits all look a little bit more crude.

Of course, if they can get a sponsor I'll be buying whatever it is they offer if it will help them get onto and stay on teh grid. (my wife is going to give me that look when she finds cases of ladies leg razors in the garage because they are sponsoring FB Corse)

Is this yet another relic of the v-12 F1 wars? Don't get me wrong MotoGP needs more competitors on the track so this would be good for the sport. But alongside the Ilmor and the now defunct Aprilia Cube the three cylinder MotoGP bike has yet to see fruition as a competitive platform. The MotoCzyzz slots into this category for me as well by virtue of the revolutionary thinking involved. All seem like great ideas but never seem to seal the deal. I will of course be first in line to consume my portion of crow when they are competitive against the current state of the art. But for now I remain skeptical.

I don't remember any details about the Ilmor bike, but if I recall correctly, Aprilia's Cube made plenty of power. With the Cube, it was not the amount of power that was the problem. It was the way in which the power was delivered.

With the FB Corse bike, since it's down on power, maybe they've placed a lot of emphasis on power deliver. That might be a good sign.

Of course two years ago, it didn't matter how the Japanese bikes were delivering their power. The Ducati ran away from them on the the straights.

Oh well, I suppose anyone supporting FB Corse will be hoping against hope. But from a fan's perspective, hope doesn't cost anything, so here's hoping the new bike works.

" was not the amount of power that was the problem. It was the way in which..." it caught on fire! 

Haga was quoted as saying, on his way to WSBK (paraphrased), "I'd rather ride an analog bike than this digital one!"

The Ilmor engine was mounted in a suspect frame.  It (the engine) was not necessarily going to beat Ducati right away, but power was not its weak suit.

The big difference between the Aprilia Cube days and now is the smaller displacement (and smaller fuel tanks).  Back then, Honda had the torque/power balance figured out perfectly and Aprilia had emphasized pure speed.  Now the formula change has flipped that equation over, as indicated by Honda's troubles.

It is possible they could figure out a way to make more torque and better delivery from a 3-cylinder, but it will probably come with a top-end tradeoff.  Or, perhaps they've already done their homework on "interial torque" and have a plan to shock the world. ;-)

How that would turn into profit for continued racing is the problem Ilmor never got around...

Typically a rider will go out and test the bike and come back in to the pits and say it handles great, one of the best bikes he has ever ridden. but if the best bike he has ridden is a F06 WSBK Ducati then there way off the pace.
We have a joke at work, when some one tells us it the best bike they have ever ridden.. then we look at there times and there 5 seconds off the pace.. and we LOL Then give the bike 50hp more and all of a sudden the bike is one of the worst bikes they have ever ridden and they carnt seem to get there head around it, and there now 8 seconds off the pace..

The 3 cylinder will fail, always has! if cosworth could not get it right these guys wont. it will only be good as a road bike engine, put a nice pipe on it and makes the customer happy.

Why doesnt some one in UK put money in to the Norton Rotary engine for motogp. at 800cc it would make 230hp and be so smooth to ride it power.

They had to make the moto2 600's a four cylinder and control engnie as the Norton project would have killed the four cyliner in 600cc format.

An engine costs 700,000 euros to deliver approximately 230hp. That's about 3,000 euros per horsepower, or 1,000 euros for each initial kilometer before a rebuild is required. That's really quite remarkable.

In any event, this FB Corse team can't possibly think they underpowered 3 cylinder is a design strength of their bike. They should try to come up with the money to lease an engine.

we remember Team Roberts times with both 2 stroke, 4 stroke, and the Honda engine.

I think he had a good deal of Sponser cash and F1 connections in his first couple years. Things did'nt go to well.

It's pleasantly surprising to hear that two new race teams on new race bikes may be potentially joining the MotoGP grid in 2010. I'm not getting my hopes up too much for this or the Gil Motorsports effort just yet, but still...both are good news for the sport should they come to fruitation. Even if these teams bring up the rear of the grid at each race next season, as long as the MotoGP rules still dictate the use of 800cc machines, this is at least a start in the right direction to getting grid numbers back up to a respectable level. And who knows....with the right rider on board, a 3-cylinder machine like this may give a number of the slower 4-cylinder machines fits next season.

Criticizing this effort is unfair at so many levels...

"It won't be competitive" it won't win. No one born of this earth will win a race (under normal circumstances) in the foreseeable future (2 years) so why single this project out? What about ALL the other established teams? What is the difference between finishing 1 minute behind or 1 1/2 minutes?

"3-cylinder bikes have all failed"..Tell that to Freddy Spencer. Anyone care to supply some empirical data to back up that claim? Just because Aprillia gave up on the Cube doesn't mean there wasn't potential.

"Formula 1 engineers only know how to get max. hp" Ridiculous, F1 motors have been shrinking yet they still seem to accelerate off corners pretty well. Same as above...past failures don't guarantee future maybe they (Ilmor have actually learned something.

Perhaps, under the current formula, a 3-cylinder motor might actually be SUPERIOR with a better blend of rideability...who knows until someone ACTUALLY races one?
MotoGP has been heading in the wrong direction for years (4 strokes) & I applaud a team going back to the true spirit of creative unconventional thinking. Yes, they have a snowball's chance...every race has 16 losers;1 more won't change a thing.

If they can get it together and get that bike on the grid, I say why the hell not. But don't expect a lot of people to get excited about it when there's a 99% it will finish last or thereabouts every single weekend.