The First Of Many Moto3 Defections: Ambrogio Drops Suter Honda For Mahindra

Ambrogio Racing has become the first of what is likely to become a torrent of defections from Honda in the Moto3 class at the end of this year. The Italian team of Brad Binder and Luca Amato - Danny Webb was forced to leave the team over a lack of sponsorship - will be switching from the Suter Honda to a Mahindra from the next round of Moto3 at Misano.

The reasons for the switch are simple. The Honda NSF250R engine simply does not produce sufficient power to be able to rival the KTMs. At every circuit on the calendar so far, the KTMs have simply powered away from the the Hondas, with only some excellent riding by youngsters such as Jack Miller and Alexis Masbou keeping the KTMs in sight, using the stronger handling of the FTR chassis. Binder and Webb have also had good results with the Suter Honda, though again, they have been beaten on sheer horsepower by the KTMs.

The switch from the Suter Honda to the Mahindra is not as large as it seems. The Mahindra MGP30 is being built by Suter in a collaboration between the Swiss firm and the Indian engineering giant, with a large number of Indian engineers working on the engine and chassis at the Suter factory. The chassis is very similar to the Suter Honda chassis, and the engine bears some resemblance too, though the Mahindra power plant produces much more power than the NSF250R.

Current Honda teams are likely to abandon the Japanese engine in droves at the end of this season, switching instead to the KTM or Mahindra. Unless Honda decide to build a completely new engine, it will be even more difficult to compete with the KTM in 2014. Rumors persist in the paddock that Honda is considering building a new engine to take on the KTMs, but that idea has split HRC into two camps. One side believes that Honda should either follow in the spirit of the Moto3 rules or pull out, the other camp believes that Honda should build an engine capable of slaying the KTMs, and only then consider pulling out.

The dispute centers around the concept of Moto3. The series was meant as a cheaper form of racing, with engines to be sold at a maximum price of 12,000 euros each. Honda designed and built their bike around that idea, with chassis builders such as FTR, Suter and TSR leaping at the chance to put an affordable engine in one of their chassis. KTM, however, looked at the letter of the rules and found a way around it, selling the engines at 12,000 euros, but only making them available as part of a complete bike and engine package. That package is several hundred thousand euros, but as the spare engines are sold to KTM teams at the price stated in the FIM rules, they are entirely within their rights to do so.

HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto has publicly vented his displeasure at the situation many times in the past, the latest broadside coming in an interview with German language website Speedweek. Nakamoto accused KTM of 'wanting to destroy motor sports' by demanding prices which are way outside the spirit of the regulations. KTM and Mahindra have made Moto3 more expensive than Moto2, Nakamoto told Speedweek.

The problem is that the rules do not specify that engines must be made available separately to complete motorcycles. Subsection of the FIM regulations specifies that engines may be supplied either separately, or as a complete bike. That is a loophole large enough to drive a very expensive coach and horses through, and that is exactly what KTM and Mahindra have done. understands that chassis suppliers have made requests to both KTM and Mahindra for engines at the 12,000 euro price, but have so far been turned down. Until this loophole is plugged, costs in Moto3 will continue to spiral out of control.

Below are the press releases from Ambrogio Racing and Mahindra:


Silverstone, UK, September 01, 2013: After a highly successful debut in the ultra-competitive Moto3™ grand prix class, Mahindra Racing is pleased to confirm that it will now supply two 2013 Mahindra MGP3O racers to Ambrogio Racing, the team’s first Moto3 customer.

Ambrogio Racing will introduce their new Mahindra bikes to the grid at Misano in two weeks time for the Grand Prix di San Marino e la Riveria di Rimini. The team’s German rider, Luca Amato, and South African teammate Brad Binder will switch to the MGP3O for the remaining six Moto3 races of 2013.

The agreement with Ambrogio will mean that five Mahindra MGP3Os will be seen on the Misano grid. Mahindra Racing’s Italian Championship (CIV) Moto3 class-leader, Andrea Locatelli (16), will make a World Championship wildcard appearance alongside factory-regulars Miguel Oliveira and Efrén Vázquez.

Designed and built at Mahindra Racing’s state of the art factory in Switzerland, the MGP3O single-cylinder, 250cc racer has proved its worth from the first tests. Apart from being reliable, this four-stroke machine is also very competitive. In the first half of its debut season, the prototype has already claimed four front row starts, including one pole position, and has regularly fought in the leading group of the Moto3 class, narrowly missing the podium in a number of races.

Mahindra, the only Indian constructor in grand prix motorcycle racing, is continuing its development of the MGP3O during the remainder of the 2013 season.

Moto3 regulations dictate that manufacturers must be prepared to supply up to 15 riders in the class, and Mahindra Racing has geared up for further production in time for the 2014 season. “So far this season we have definitely proved the reliability and performance of the MGP3O,” said Mufaddal Choonia, CEO of Mahindra Racing. “We are confident of further improvements and there is a lot of development work still under way in Switzerland and India at the moment.

“There has been a great deal of interest from other teams, and we are very excited about seeing five Mahindra MGP3O machines on the grid at Misano. We are looking forward to a fruitful partnership with Ambrogio Racing. I can say that this is almost something historic for Indian automotive engineering.

“The Mahindra race bike is excellent value, as an overall package, and it is great to be breaking new ground as an Indian constructor.”

Team owner of Ambrogio Racing, Fiorenzo Caponera, said: “Improving the team’s performance is our constant target, as we want to give our riders the best possible chance of showing their talent. Mahindra is a recent name in the World Championship, but its commitment and excellent results so far this season make Mahindra the perfect choice for our programme.”

Ambrogio Racing and Mahindra together until the end of 2015

Luxemburg, August 28th, 2013

From the next Misano GP, Ambrogio Racing is going to race with Mahindra bikes. The partnership will last until the end of 2015.

Fiorenzo Caponera (Team Principal) “Improving the team's performance is our constant target, as we want to give our riders the best possible chance of showing their talent. Among several options we decided in favor of Mahindra because of their results in such a short time, but also in account of a strategy common to all the seasons spent by WWR in the World Championship: the team have preferred to invest in young and often rookies riders, to be part of innovative marketing strategies, new challenges, strong partnerships. Mahindra is a recent name among those involved in the World Championship, but its commitment and the excellent results got makes a perfect choice for our program”.

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So are we to believe that Honda are unable to produce a competitive engine at the price the series demands? That doesn't bode well for the production RCV.

You've completely missed the problem. I understand English is not everyone's first language though so no worries.

The issue not that Honda can't produce a satisfactory 12,000 euro engine. They have. It is KTM and Mahindra who have not. They 'sell' a 12,000 euro engine to teams only if the teams also spend a hundred or so extra thousand euro on the chassis etc.

Of course what Honda really wants is to supply identical Honda scooter engines to all teams. It is so unfair that some engines are faster than others.

If the truth is that KTM/Mahindra are breaking the spirit of the regulations then they should be forced to supply engines to whomever requests them. Preferably via Dorna/FIM, so that the person who receives them is anonymous and they cannot favour anyone.
What is the point of rules aimed at equalisation when this is allowed to happen? The people who write these rules don't seem to have a commercial bone in their body or, at least, the ability to see a loophole big enough for a bus....
I don't feel particularly sorry for Honda, but if it is also true that it's cheaper to run Moto2 then it is a daft situation.

6 of one and half a dozen of the other. I'm glad the deadlocked and bogged down Honda 250 rider's have found a way onto more competitive kit. Careers in this game are pretty finite. Lets face it, Binder,Amato,Miller and Masbou are not exactly going to put their respective faces in the frame for a first class ride in M2 or GP whilst trolling around in spite of their efforts on clearly inferior and underpowered kit.
Rossi,Lorenzo,Pedrosa and Marquez in the day settled for nothing less than competitive kit (Aprilia in the day),in their jnr days. Why should these blokes and their respective outfits wobble around as grid filler when they can feature way higher.
High time Ducati ressurected the glorious 250 desmo single.

Agreed! There was a classic race in my tiny little village last week, the 250 class was full of beatiful Ducati 250s. They sounded great. That knowledge can't be all gone can it?

I have a 13-year old kid who's racing. Problem is: where can he go now? Moto3 has become too expensive in all series. In GP's you have to bring half a million euro's. And because of those same prices all national series are on the verge of dying, except for the Spanish CEV (owned by Dorna). Which leaves entry in GP's almost impossible since there is no way to grow towards Moto3.

Older two-strokes were easy to find; because they have been used for half a century it was possible to find something for every budget. Problem with Moto3 is there aren't any in peoples sheds or as back-up bikes, because the concept is still young. Which leaves us were we are, maybe waiting for the kid to grow old enough to ride a 600, where you can start out with an affordable bike and grow, not only as a rider but also in budget.

There are people with small workshops developing Moto3 bikes aimed at affordability. One project I am aware of can be found here:-

In their own words "To reduce costs for Moto3 racing teams, Bakker Framebouw has developed a special Moto3 rolling chassis kit. This kit makes is possible to re-use all parts like front forks, swingarms, suspension etc. as they are used in the existing 125cc 2-stroke road racers."

Nico Bakker has a real racing and frame building pedigree. Some background information:-

There will be others out there I am sure.

Bit rich Nakamoto complaining about others making racing too expensive.

Perhaps HRC should be forced to sell last years RCV prototype's to IRTA?

Whist on this occasion Nakamoto does have a genuine point KTM is not the villain here - a poorly written rule is. If you leave room for interpretation someone will exploit it.

This is Motorsport, people are paid to explore loop holes and work the regulations to their best advantage. Its not as if Honda have never done it before.

Maximum revs and maximum bhp only fair way to do it in a class that puts rider skill before technology. Same for Moto 2. Open it up to any 600cc engine, specify the revs and hp limit on the official dyno and let all the manufacturers play. That'll bring the cost down sharpish.

Would love to see what this kid could do on a KTM. Hes wasted on that Honda.
Any word of his team (San Carlo Team Italia) defecting?

(I thought he was in Gresini team because of the San Carlo sponser, but forgot they are Go & Fun now. Nil chance of Gresini changing from Honda)

Fenati rides for the Italian FIM development team. Its the equivalent of the ACU deciding to run a two man squad to develop UK talent in GP's. Last year they didn't have a sponsor so the cost must be racking up this year enough to make them need a sponsor income.

Imagine what the Honda riders would do on an FTR KTM. Thats the bike I'd like to see, power + fineness.

Still a bit surprised that KTM shunned FTR at the start of Moto3 given the excellent relationship between them back in the 2 smoke days.

...Gresini moto3 has just signed up KTMs for Antonelli in 2014

i always wondered why Kawasaki never bothered to come in to moto3 , or even any other manufacturers, and now i know why! ridiculous to think that 250cc single cylinder machines can cost more than a moto2!

... that as of next season engines would be supplied to Dorna who will supply them to teams. Surely this would be the time to implement a further rule either closing the loophole or requiring a manufacturer to supply a minimum number of engines- that way KTM could not ensure only certain riders receive the best equipment?

FYI: I had thought there had been some rule to require manufacturers to be reay (whatever that means) to supply a set number of teams?

The rules state that manufacturers have to supply 15 riders, if those riders request it. However, the rules also state that it is up to the manufacturer to decide if they supply a whole bike or just the engine. And there's the problem.

Next year, Dorna will supply engines to all of the teams at random. However, the teams being supplied still have to buy the bike first.

... for the rules to be clarified to state that any manufacturer must be willing to provide, through Dorna, an engine for 12000 euros to any team that so requested? Is that feasible or desireable?

Is there any factual basis for Nakamoto's claim that it is costing more than Moto2?Equally, I would love an analysis of costs of the classes vs the two stroke era.

On another track:
Under either interpretation, could the concept of a desmo 250 single be competitive, financially and in performance? If it could, Ducati (with Audi pleased given fleet emissions, perhaps) could score a coup on track, in marketing and sales. With lower capacity sports bikes looking more and more like the future, ever more restrictive licensing and the ongoing need to be frugal it could prove a winner.

"with only some excellent riding by youngsters such as Jack Miller and Alexis Masbou keeping the KTMs in sight"

At 26 years old I bet Alexis would be glad to be called a youngster!

Both Honda riders have been outstanding this year but the truth is Masbou is in his 9th full time GP season...and after racing Malaguti, Loncin (yes, who remembers the 2 seasons he spent on the dreadful chinese 125 GP racer?), years plagued by injury, the outpowered FTR-Honda is probably one if not the best GP bike he ever had the chance to ride.

Masbou's biggest problem is his age, I want to see him stay in a good team but sadly the future is not bright when you're 26 in Moto3.