FTR To Build Honda-Powered CRT Bike For Gresini MotoGP Team

The changes to MotoGP for 2012 are getting into full swing. After the first mixed test of old-style factory prototypes and CRT machines at Valencia, more projects for 2012 are starting to break cover.

The latest project to emerge is the San Carlo Gresini Honda team's CBR-powered project. While Alvaro Bautista is to pilot the prototype Honda RC213V machine originally destined for Marco Simoncelli, Gresini did not have the budget to run a second factory prototype, and so the team elected to run the second bike as a CRT entry. Today, Gresini announced that the bike is to be built by FTR, and will be powered by a Honda CBR1000RR engine. The rider is yet to be announced, though with the Spaniard Bautista signed to the RC213V machine, the chances are high that it will be an Italian, to keep Gresini's sponsor San Carlo happy. Michele Pirro, currrently racing for Gresini in Moto2, is the current favorite candidate, though his teammate Yuki Takahashi has also been linked to the ride.

Though Gresini's intention to run a second bike as a CRT entry had been known for some time, it took a long time for the exact details of the project to materialize. Gresini's original plan was to run an Aprilia-powered machine, but HRC apparently insisted that both bikes in the garage must be powered by Honda engines. When Ronald and Gerrit ten Kate appeared - the cousins who run the Ten Kate World Superbike squad, currently competing as Castrol Honda - in the paddock at Valencia, rumors emerged that Ten Kate would be building the MotoGP bike for Gresini. Now, Gresini have announced that they have selected FTR to build the chassis for their Honda CBR1000RR-powered machine, though doubtless the experience gained by Ten Kate in WSBK would come in handy when preparing a CBR1000 engine, especially given that whoever tunes the engine will have a free hand to modify and tune the engine as they wish. As the Honda has the narrowest bore (76mm) of the current generation of 1000cc sportsbikes which look likely to power next year's crop of CRT machines, it will be harder to produce the power needed to make the bike competitive. Though the rules allow complete freedom to modify an engine as the team sees fit, increasing the bore of the Honda to the maximum allowable 81mm would require extensive headwork as well, and that would drive up costs significantly.

Producing the chassis for Gresini's machine will be the easiest part of the project. The CBR1000RR engine is not radically different to the CBR600RR powerplant currently being used by the Moto2 machines. FTR also have experience in building a CRT machine for an inline four, having produced the Kawasaki-powered machine to be raced by Yonny Hernandez for BQR next year.

Below is the official press release from Gresini announcing the tie-up:


Team San Carlo Honda Gresini will join forces with British bikes manufacturers FTR Moto as they embark on a new adventure as a CRT (Claiming Rules Team) in the MotoGP World Championship in 2012. The new FTR MGP12 machine will assemble an Honda CBR 1000R engine and will begin testing soon with a rider soon to be announced as the team embarks on the necessary technical development ahead of the new campaign.

Fausto Gresini "It is a source of great satisfaction that we have reached an agreement with FTR Moto to take part in the new MotoGP series, CRT. The battle between the Claiming Rule Teams will be an exciting one and we are entering it with great enthusiasm. Our willingness to take part was always based on the condition that we had the right technical partner and with FTR Moto and a Honda CBR 1000R engine we believe we can build a competitive bike for this new category. It is a new adventure that appeals to our racing spirit and it could prove to be the future of MotoGP. We will work our hardest and I am sure we will have great results together."

Steve Bones (CEO – FTR Moto) "We are absolutely delighted to start up a partnership with Team San Carlo Honda Gresini and to join them on a new adventure in MotoGP. Team Gresini have shown over the years that they are technically competent, as their numerous successes prove, and we are sure that will continue alongside FTR on this new adventure. The growing interest in the new MotoGP-CRT category is exciting for all of us and we can't wait to get on track as soon as possible to start developing the bike and breaking new technical boundaries."

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Obviously, just boring a motor doesn't achieve much, since the point of a big bore is to fit big valves.

However, since getting the fly-by-wire upgrade the Honda seems more than competitive in WSBK with the Aprilia... which is considered fast enough to be a threat in MotoGP.

Plus, the Ducati won that series despite having the least power. Maybe that extra 20hp on top is so little used it will not matter? Intriguing question.

Such teams as Gresini and Forward will be very interesting to follow : with valuable experience, proven staff and riders, they pretty much limit the unknowns in the equation to the CRT concept itself.

The bore subject will be interesting. WSBK followers, does the Fireblade looks underpowered in that championship ?
Anyway, on the road for the most part of the 2000s, 1000 GSX-Rs have a succesful story of relatively long-stroke engines compared to other sportbikes, and yet outpowering them while giving great midrange.
We should know soon enough...

If I get this right, Ten Kate will assist with the tuning of the engine?

Or have they nothing to do with it after all?

The Fireblade seemed to come alive once it get new drive-by-wire technology. And it seemed to happen right away.

If you assume that the FTR frame is going to be similar to the Moto2 frame, and the 1000 cc Honda is similar to the 600 in Moto2, then how fast would a Moto2 bike be with 50% more power?

I would think that if you had either ten Kate or the Honda Europe engine guys working on this with Gresini's MotoGP people, this could be a bike to watch.

I am sure HRC will take more than a passing interest, as well.

The Ten Kate WSBK spec honda was mostly an also ran last season. They managed one win at their home test track of Assen with Jon Rae which they credited to 'fly by wire' being allowed to be added to the bike (though it didn't win them any more races). Their second rider Xaus could have just stayed home all season and scored about as many points. Next year Ruben is replaced by Hiro who will produce more of the same thrilling rides for 10th place.

I don't understand why we are interested in non-factory prototype frames in GP. It's a near meaningless refinement by a 3rd company that does not make motorcycles and will not trickle back into production or improve the racing (none of these bikes will ever win a race while the factory bikes are there).

What is the point of banning stock frames? I could understand a teams desire for a better frame then stock, but to force an arbitrarily different frame... convoluted. There is no synergy. It's legal BS that has nothing to do with racing. You might argue that it drives the cost up which is counter to the stated goal of this whole deal.

Then we top off the mess with a sealed motors and a spec tire. You have 10 guys in the garage playing with lap tops instead of motors.

Why don't we shoot all the lawyers and just make GP an open class. You need one rule - 2 open wheels. The rest can be decided by physics, actual applied ingenuity and of course; budget. Instead we'll get spec computers on the machines soon and teams making endless variations of swing-arms to conform to a spec tire while cost will continue to increase for anyone who actually wants to finish in the top 10.


>>I don't understand why we are interested in non-factory prototype frames in GP. It's a near meaningless refinement by a 3rd company that does not make motorcycles and will not trickle back into production or improve the racing (none of these bikes will ever win a race while the factory bikes are there).<<

Tell that to Bimota or NCR! :-) That's how they started their business before getting into production of exotic bikes, bringing further refinement on both new and old concepts.

In my personal case, and while I think the CRT are a "placebo" instead of a real solution, I'm very interested to see how a hot-rodded production engine (within constraints of the rules) fitted on a 100% prototype racing chassis can perform against the multi-million leeches called "MotoGP factory prototypes", for a fraction of their cost.
That will actually prove a point whether the current insane costs make sense or not. THAT is where the interest is.

IMHO, the only real factor playing against the CRT is the no-name inexperienced riders (with a couple of exceptions) that would probably never stand a chance in "normal" conditions of full factory prototype grid.

The sad part is electronics have ruined the racing. Not much sliding (some, like Stoner, will map the TC to allow them to spin up a particular corner, but not every corner), and for the most part one line around the track, rare battles for a win (hardly ever) and general processional racing. Electronics have caused all this and yet that is what has driven the prototypes up exponentially in price. In turn, this is driving away sponsors, and driving away Sat teams, cost.

Is electronics really worth all that? It ruins the dicing, the passing, the sliding, and the spectacle and it's ruining the sport financially.

What good does all these electronic nannies do again, other than drop a few tenths?

The MFR's need to make chassis, and engines that do not require traction control, period. Let's drop all the sensors and what not and let them focus on engine and chassis development.
It sure would cut cost because that's all they used to do.

And I don't want to hear any luddite bs. These electronic nannies have driven the sport almost into extinction, just look at the grid. 12 factory prototypes at best?

I don't always agree with Ezpeleta but good on him for trying to go to a control ECU. TC only helps lap times. Going by the injuries so many riders have sustained in the 800cc era, TC doesn't save a damn thing.

I don't even want TC on my road bike, not even in the rain. I learned to ride in the rain a long time ago and I"ll always trust my right wrist more than a computer.

Total nonsense. What do you want then, a 1000cc engine with 130hp? Riders riding on eggshells, knowing they could be a lot faster but they can't because the technology is holding them back?

The only thing that might be considered a problem with electronics is the fuel limit and how it affects racing. But that's a problem with the fuel limit in itself and not the electronics controlling it.

The sport needs to move forward. Not backwards.

Yes, the sport does need to move forward but, MotoGP circa 2003/2004 (with 990cc) seemed to have reached a state that wasn't observed in ages.
There were very little rider assistance electronics (existent ones not so intrusive then), riders were happy and so were the fans.

...maybe they should have just "stalled" developments to things that gone as culprits for massive costs today, and kept them going as they were then.
I miss the 500cc 2-strokers really bad but those initial three years of MotoGP were pretty interesting to watch, both in technical aspects (variety of solutions) and riding "flamboyance" (big fast and loud machines sliding/drifting in and out of corners).

The 990s were great (if you discount the Rossi dominance), much better than the 500s. I'm so glad 2 stroke engines are now gone, they were boring and stale.

The problem is not so much the electronics as it is the rules. And especially the fuel limit. It makes racing more strict so to speak. On the other hand, on the technical side that same fuel limit inspired some great technology. Look at the stats Yamaha published. The bikes were made much more fuel efficient while also being a lot faster. I do think the scales have tipped too much to the technical side, leaving the racing side of things wanting.

And we've had some pretty amazing races in the 800 era as well, people seem to forget that. Mostly because there never was much of a tight championship, and that was because in almost every season either one bike/rider was dominant (2007-8) or a major contender was injured or otherwise sidelined (2009-10, arguably 11 too)

I hate the idea of limiting things but I'm willing to accept a compromise in a rev limit. I'm almost completely sure that will provide better racing than a fuel limit.

"The sad part is electronics have ruined the racing. Not much sliding (some, like Stoner, will map the TC to allow them to spin up a particular corner, but not every corner)"

That's some pretty amazing TC software. Did Stoner design it himself or does he have a TC tech developing it?

What is the point of banning stock frames?

I disagree with pretty much everything else you say, but that's a good question...

On one hand the answer is easy: contractual issues with WSBK. Otherwise, it would be interesting to see how much of a handicap a stock frame is or isn't...

If subject to the forces generated by the ultra stiff and grippy Bridgestones. You can see the WSB bike chassis' flexing while racing using the much softer Pirellis. The GP bikes are designed around the tires so I don't think a production frame would be suitable from a stiffness perspective.


Comment on aftermarket swingarms for WSBK was that most are more flexible than stock, not less.
Is it also true of the frames? They aren't that floppy: the use of castings requires thicker sections because of the porosity and lower strength than formed sheet or machined billet, but the Young's modulus isn't degraded... so by default they end up quite stiff, I suspect.

But the only way to know would be to try...

Unless Honda release a new SBK engine with the same engine mounts and significantly higher bore, this is a waste of time and money. I doubt the Honda engine will be competitive in CRT unless the other chassis projects go awry.

It's too bad Gresini didn't tell Honda to fly a kite. The Aprilia FTR would probably be a nice piece of kit.

Yep, that was the first thing that popped in my mind when I saw the confirmation of a CRT for Gresini with a Honda CBR1000RR tuned engine. That engine will require much more modifications than the others (engine base far from being perfect for this). Something like "That will be an expensive CRT!".

Obviously the CBR1000rr engine has been the least favorite engine for liter bikes for years now. The BMW/Aprilia/kawasaki have been at the top of the engine choice list. Honda pressured Gresini into fielding another Honda engine next to the RCV. 2012 will be another long season (same as Ducati's 2011 season) of trial and error for Honda to use as R&D (parts and electronics) for their next liter-bike. Whether that be a V4 or another inline four remains to be seen. The engine may not be bored out to 81mm but it will be more than 76mm that's for sure. If Honda were smart, they would throw Rea at it for a couple rounds as a wildcard! He's been the only well-known racer to ride the CBR1000rr well enough to obtain decent results. If Rea develops the next CBR/RVF for WSB... he could also enter MotoGP on a Honda CRT machine with Gresini or LCR in 2013 when the rules change again.

FTR is getting busy; an overview of there upcoming work:

FTR - Honda (Gresini)
FTR - Kawasaki (BQR)
FTR - Aprilia (PBM ?)

Moto2 chassis package
Moto3 chassis package

Getting all these new chassis built is going to be one thing. But supporting the development on them.... Especially with three different engines in MotoGP.

"The NGM Mobile Forward Racing Team has completed its lineup for the 2012 season; after hiring Moto2 and MotoGP veteran Alex De Angelis, also Yuki Takahashi has signed a one year contract with the team."