On Saturday, shortly before qualifying practice for the MotoGP class was about to kick off, the FIM and Dorna released a joint statement announcing that Honda had won the contract to supply the standard engine for Moto2. But the announcement from the Permanent Bureau, as the FIM / Dorna committee styles itself, was light on detail, saying only that Honda "offers high level performance engine," and that "the horse power will be over 150."
After the announcement, Shuhei Nakamoto, vice president of HRC, spoke to GPOne.com, revealing more information about the engine. The engine, which Motorcycle News reports has been under development for the past two years, will be based on the unit which powers Honda's roadgoing CBR600RR sports bike. The engine will have a wet clutch and unusually for a race bike will not feature a cassette-style gearbox. Cassette gearboxes allow the gear shafts to be extracted from the side of the bike, without having to remove the engine from the chassis.
Honda will provide an ECU for the engine, but it is unknown whether that ECU will have traction control capabilities. The current World Supersport machines are not using a great deal of traction control, but the extra power from the Moto2 engine may make it more of a necessity. The shape and size of the airbox will be unregulated, and up to the teams to get the most out of.
Cost of the unit will be around 24,000 euros, or 17,000 without a gearbox. Dorna will buy the engines from Honda, who will pass the engines on to the team. The engines will have a service life of around 2,000 km, meaning that the teams should only need 3 engines to last a season. The 150 horsepower rating is "obviously more powerful than the engine which is in the Supersport," according to Nakamoto. "We expect to be ready in October," Nakamoto said, "and the engines will be prepared by Honda R&D, as HRC doesn't have the capacity to produce them. But the two departments will collaborate very closely on this." Though the engines will only be ready in October, the teams are expected so receive CAD drawings which they can use to start designing a chassis around within the next few weeks.
With Nakamoto publicly admitting that the engine will be based on the CBR600 unit, the question is how will the Flammini brothers and Infront Motor Sports react. The Flamminis claim they have exclusive rights to production-based motorcycle racing, an agreement which the Moto2 unit could be said to violate, or at least that's what could be argued in the courts. We shall see how IMS responds in the next few days.