Another Moto2 Chassis Switch: MZ To Swap To FTR Chassis For 2011?

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: 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 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.

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Good news for FTR boss Steve Bones, they seem to be going from strength to strength in Moto2, but what I'd really like to know is if they have any plans to enter MotoGP as a CRT.

There were rumours, perpetuated more likely than not from Dorna, that along with Suter they would be a player, Norton too..but to me, there seemed to be a deafening silence about the whole CRT shebang, that was until I picked up a copy of this weeks MCN last Wednesday.

Inside was an article by Matt Birt on the subject and it's not good news according to him..

Poncheral and Chechinello both said the biggest issue for new teams would be electronics. Traction control being singled out as an area where spending by Factories is so high, independents would have no chance of being competitive despite extra fuel and engines. Both men will continue as satellite team owners and have no plans to build their own bikes.

Norton have asked for details on participation agreements, Ezpeleta said..
"when they tell us what bike and engine they will run we can proceed."

With regard to Aprilia and their V4..
"Any Aprilia engine will not be considered a CRT entry" with the MSMA blocking engine supply to CRTs.

Apparently he is in almost constant contact with BMW..
"I am speaking with BMW and this is a possibility, but there are also other possibilities" and the most interesting bit..
"I hope they come before they win WSBK, because it is not so easy with the existing rules, especially for a non Italian team".

Now if that isn't aimed at the Flamminis and Aprilia? maybe even Ducati, but of course theyr'e not competing,"officially" and are in the MSMA who will block an Aprilia engine competing next year, unless it comes in as a Factory team with 21 litres but with nine engines in the first year, then six.
It seems the BMW engine will not be viewed in the same light.

Marc VDS who have the only bike up and running will see how competitive their times are and decide by the end of August whether to enter or not.

As Birt says "Is CRT a dead duck?" and if it is and there are no entries, will we see the factories spend on developing new bikes, when maybe they'd prefer to stick with 800..especially if we get some good racing this year?

or even Kawasaki or BMW (who are not involved in MotoGP) own traction control system seem good enough for me, especially considering Philip Island laptimes.
With bigger engines, more fuel and WSBK-esque electronics it looks to me that traction control should not be that much of an issue. Obviously Poncharal and Chechinello know better but I don't understand the reasoning behind this?

I was quoting from the article where it was Chechinello who actually said "traction control systems"..which I take to mean the whole shooting match, anti-wheelie, clutch systems as well as the obvious chopping of power to prevent power-slides and fuel's pehaps a bit misleading the way I've written it. The way I understand, it's not so much the hardware, ie. sensors and computer like Mareli gear which Ducati and Kawasaki run in WSB which can be bought realatively cheaply, but the software written by engineers to make it work effectively, which you can't buy for love nor money and is the reason why top engineers are head-hunted for big money. Overlaying all the different maps combining GPS to make 21 litres of fuel last race distance is key.
Factory teams have already have reams of data and dedicated teams of engineers working in this area. For an independant team to come in and match that experience and spending power and be competitive from the start, is not going to happen. BMW might be better placed as they have their own set-up in SBK..but they, like Aprilia would have to enter as a factory and be limited to 21 litres rather than the 24 which is the carrot for CRT teams.

Why would any Aprillia not be considered for a CRT entry? Was there a reason they were excluded? (other than the fact that they are super fast and would blitz everything else) And why is the BMW engine being treated differently?

Good question Bob..

Here's the full extract from MCN 23/02/11:

'Aprilia reportedly said it would not enter MotoGP in 2012 with a full factory effort, but would be happy to supplyengines based on it's RSV4 motor to an independent team.
Theoretically, a team using an RSV4 motor could be rgarded as a CRT and be allowed to use 12 engines and a 24 litre fuel tank capacity-three more engines and three more litres than if Aprilia ran it's own factory project.
But Ezpeleta said he would not allow that to happen: " Any Aprilia engine will not be considered a CRT entry. They've told me they cannot come as a factory team in 2012, but perhaps 2013. I said fine, but the MSMA will not approve you coming with an Aprilia engine supplied to a CRT.
" I will not accept them supplying engines and saying it is nothing to do with the factory. If Aprilia comes, then fantastic, but they will have nine engines in the first year and 21 litres, not 24 litres. In year two it will be six engines like the other factories."'

That sounds to me like RSV4 engines will be considered as factory backed, whoever sticks one in their own frame? something the BMW engine in the Marc VDS Suter framed bike is apparently not.

There's still some bad blood between Dorna and Aprilia, over the way the 250 class evolved. I suspect Ezpeleta's response is connected to this.

...and presumed the "bad blood" had more to do with Ducati and the "official" factory withdrawl from WSB and them persuading the other MSMA members to go along with the Idea.
Either way, it seems the MSMA certainly feel threatened by the power and potential pace of an RSV4 powered GP bike.

Just checked top speeds from last years Moto Gp Vs yesterdays WSB. Stoner got up to 327 Km/hr while the slowest was DP26 @ 305 Km/hr. Max got up to 321 Km/Hr yesterday with standard fuel injectors, new less optimal chain driven cams etc. I know theres 200 cc more in his bike but with less tuning restrictions that engine would be competitive (as long as it had the electronics to back it up) no doubt about it. It would give a CRT a fighting chance, although I guess the CRTs aren't supposed to be even in the points..

Then there's the extra 15kg, carbon brakes and superior Bridgestones? No wonder they don't want them to have an extra 3 litres of fuel.
Seems to me the MSMA are once again moving the goalposts, with the intention of protecting it's current membership and stitching up Aprilia..they don't want them in the club or spoiling the party.

That's a really interesting comparison, as the CRT bikes will have 24 liters of fuel, the same as the WSBK bikes have. Of course, the WSBK bikes run 22 laps of PI (about 98 km) while the MotoGP machines run 27 laps (120 km), but it still gives an idea of the advantage those three extra liters of fuel offer.

Also, what about enginge rebuilds? Would the current RSV4 SBK engine rebuild schedule fit the limit for GP, crt or no?

I'm very happy to hear that they have ditched the water pipe frame. Ant and Matt deserve the best. Both are MotoGP class riders IMO. So glad Matt joined this team...

It was inevitable from its inception that the engineering battlefield of Moto 2 would be fought primarily in the 'land of chassis' with the resultant attrition of suppliers.
Even if it ends up being contested by as few as 4 chassis suppliers,that is okay.
The worrying aspect is the old issue of bang for your buck.
How long will it be before the more well financed teams are able to get better kit from the same manufacturer than the less well heeled,resulting in a sort of factory versus sattelite chassis situation ?
When this happens we will see the front of the field lead by a bunch of regulars as in Moto GP, resulting in a steady decline in the number of entries no doubt.

It looks like natural progression is occurring and we are converging towards one dominant chassis. How long before that one manufacturer can charge whatever it wants for the best chassis on the grid and the cost to compete becomes too expensive?