With a final decision expected on who will supply engines to the Moto2 series expected at the Jerez MotoGP race, just a few days from now, word is starting to emerge of the candidates for the position. Initially, it was thought that Kawasaki would be awarded the contract, but today, Motorcycle News is reporting that the Moto2 contract will go to either Yamaha or Honda.
According to MCN's Matthew Birt, Kawasaki had declined to bid for the contract, but both Yamaha and Honda had submitted formal proposals to supply the contract. Under the proposals, the winning bidder would sell the engines to Dorna, who would then provide them to the teams. A crucial point in the discussions centers on the ability of the factories to provide spare parts and engineering backup to the teams, to ensure the continuity of the series.
This point is probably the reason that the contract was only open to the major Japanese factories. As a known quantity with proven track records in building and supplying race-ready engines, the risk of awarding the Moto2 contract to Honda or Yamaha is limited. But the fact that this deal was hammered out in the Grand Prix Commission, which has the MSMA, representing the manufacturers actively involved in MotoGP, as one of its members, makes it hard to escape the suggestion that this was a deal which was never going to be open to outsiders.
The reason for the Moto2 series becoming a single engine series was simple: it was the easiest way of preventing the costs of the new four stroke racing formula from spiralling out of control. Four stroke racing engines are, by their very nature, far more complex and therefore far more expensive to extract performance from than two strokes - though factory-spec Aprilias are hardly a bargain. With multiple engine manufacturers involved in the class, a horsepower war would have been inevitable, and the aim of producing a cheap class where teams and riders can learn their trade would have been lost.
But it is hard not to feel some sorrow at the decision to use a single, spec engine. With a number of small engineering firms expressing an interest in producing engines for the class under a 20,000 euro claiming rule, it seems that a lot of ingenuity and clever new ideas could be lost. And with MotoGP already prohibitively expensive to go racing in, it's hard to see where new manufacturers could go to learn the skills necessary to build a competitive prototype four-stroke racing motorcycle.