When the Moto2 class was announced, the purpose behind the series was immediately clear. The introduction of a 20,000 euro engine claiming rule and the emphasis on a prototype chassis was aimed at tempting private companies into the series to build chassis for lightly tweaked production engines. After years of Aprilia being able to pick and choose winners by deciding who to supply with factory-spec 250s, and often ending up with the highest bidder, something had to be done about reducing the price of competing in MotoGP's support class.
And after the rules were announced, a number of teams and chassis builders showed an interest in the class, just as Dorna and the FIM had predicted and hoped. There was, however, a rather large fly in the ointment. The elephant in the room during all these announcements was the agreement that FGSport - now Infront Motor Sports - claims to have with the FIM, giving them the monopoly on world championship racing with production motorcycles, and allowing Dorna to race with prototypes.
At the IRTA tests in Jerez, the FIM and Dorna shocked the motorcycle racing world by announcing a possible solution to this thorny problem: the MSMA had proposed that a single engine supplier be appointed for the class, eliminating the most costly part of running a bike in the class. A sensible proposal, and realistically the only way around the problem of using production engines, but the proposal has also had the unfortunate effect of scaring off the very people the class was intended to attract.
The Ten Kate team, for example, had previously indicated that they were very interested in the series. But the single engine proposal had changed their minds. MotoGPMatters.com cornered Ronald and Gerrit ten Kate of the Ten Kate Honda team about the new proposals, and asked their opinion.
MotoGPMatters.com: You said earlier that you were interested in Moto2, but does the announcement that this will be a single series change anything?
Ronald ten Kate: If Honda is the engine supplier, then we could still be interested. In all the racing series we do, we're allied with Honda. If another manufacturer is selected, we definitely won't be participating. But if they do go with a single engine, then ...
Gerrit ten Kate: ... then it'll take all the fun out of it for us. It becomes a Cup series - Honda Cup, Kawasaki Cup, Suzuki Cup ...
Ronald ten Kate: We're not a mass manufacturer.
MotoGPMatters.com: Well the idea is that the series becomes interesting for chassis builders, where the chassis can make the difference. But are you more engine tuners than chassis builders, or is that exaggerating?
Ronald ten Kate: Not really. Of course it's all connected, if you take a look at what we do now, we never just sell an engine on its own. We always send out complete bikes, a complete package with customizations for riders, data packages for data engineers, we send out a complete package. But neither Gerrit or I are fans of the whole Cup-type idea. If you're going to have a single engine, why not just make it a proper Cup series, and have the rider be the differentiating factor.
Gerrit ten Kate: I think they (Dorna) have lost their way a little. Someone told me that they're just like grasshoppers, one minute they're here, the next they hop off somewhere else. They decide something, then when they hear Rossi doesn't agree with them, they say something else.
Ronald ten Kate: It's about time that the people who make decisions there engage their brains before opening their mouths. That's not happening right now. Because of the financial crisis, there's such a sense of panic, that they keep announcing news instead of staying calm, and examining the situation. The whole Moto2 situation at the moment, there's nothing there yet.
Gerrit ten Kate: They made a lot of noise about introducing Moto2 in Spain this year, but so far, there's only one bike.
Ronald ten Kate: So at the moment, Moto2 is not really interesting for us. There's so much turbulence surrounding it at the moment, it's no good.