The future of the Moto2 class looks secure. Reports from the UK and Austria are suggesting that Triumph has finalized a deal to supply the Moto2 class when the current deal with Honda concludes at the end of 2018. From 2019, Triumph will supply a new three-cylinder engine, probably based on the new, larger sports triple they are building for release in 2017.
There had been uncertainty over the future of the Moto2 engine supplier since the beginning of this year. Honda had extended the deal to supply CBR600RR engines until the end of the 2018 season, but as the Japanese manufacturer was stopping production of its middleweight sports bike, it was clear that a replacement would have to be found.
There had been speculation over who might take over the role of official engine supplier. It was clear that the class would remain single supplier - any move to change the current situation would have provoked a rebellion from the teams, who are enamored of the fact that Moto2 costs less to compete in than Moto3 - but the question was who would the supplier be. The candidates were Kawasaki, with the ZX-6R, MV Agusta, and Triumph. As we wrote back in September, in a piece exclusively for MotoMatters.com subscribers, Triumph were the favorites to secure the deal.
According to both Bikesportnews.com, who were first to spot the deal, and Speedweek.com, the deal with Dorna has now been signed, and Triumph is to become the new official engine supplier for Moto2 from 2019. The engine should be ready for testing during the 2018 season, in preparation for 2019.
German-language publication Speedweek claims that the engine is to be a new 750cc triple based on the Daytona 675R engine. However, it seems more likely that the engine will be based on the new 765cc triple rumored to be presented in a new sports-oriented bike at the MCN London Motorcycle Show in February.
A larger-capacity triple would be the ideal package for a new Moto2 machine. One of the main complaints with the Honda CBR600RR engine was that it was too wide. The Triumph should be slimmer, making it more suited to be packaged in a pure racing chassis.
Two question marks hang over the use of the Triumph engine. The first is the serious question of reliability. The Triumph Daytona 675R is still raced in several national Supersport championships (though no longer in World Supersport), and although the bike is relatively nimble and quick, it also had a reputation for engine problems. As a spec engine supplier, Triumph will have to ensure that reliability is guaranteed. Fortunately, they will also have more control over the process, being able to monitor maintenance procedures and swap out engines more often than the three-race schedule currently in use, should it be needed.
The second issue with Triumph's current 675 engine design is the location of the engine mounts. The engine mounts are located on the cylinder head, very high up. This leaves chassis designers little material to work with when trying to engineer flex into the side struts. More modern engine designs have the forward engine mounts located closer to the cylinder base, rather than the cylinder head. Whether Triumph has modified the forward engine mount will become clear when the engine is presented in February.