Hayate To Switch From MotoGP To Moto2?

The Estoril MotoGP round saw the long-awaited announcement of the list of teams whose entries for Moto2 have been accepted. Among the expected candidates was a name which raised one or two eyebrows in the press room: The Hayate team, formerly the factory Kawasaki team, had been granted not one but two entries for the Moto2 class next season.

Despite the fact that the rationale for the Moto2 class is to make racing affordable again, the expense of running two riders in the class alongside a MotoGP entry would seem to be the Hayate team extending themselves beyond their current means. The team has gone almost entirely unsponsored, apart from the funds provided by Dorna and Kawasaki as part of the agreement to allow Kawasaki to leave the series before the end of their contract, which was due to expire at the end of 2011. The chances of Hayate procuring the necessary 5-6 million euros in sponsorship the team would require to run a MotoGP team next season, in addition to the extra million or so euros a two-rider Moto2 team would cost, seem fairly remote.

But the lack of potential sponsors isn't the only sign that Hayate are moving away from continuing in MotoGP. Initially, the team had planned to run a leased Yamaha engine in a modified version of the Hayate chassis, but a number of factors have made that an unlikely option. The first problem - and the most disappointing one, for both Hayate and the rest of the paddock - is the question of cost. Yamaha are believed to be the only factory so far to have shown any enthusiasm for the plan to lease just engines to satellite teams, but even they are asking something in the region of 750,000 euros a season (about 65% of the cost of an entire bike), a sum which is well above what the satellite teams and Dorna had been hoping for.

The second problem is the loss of some of the figures who would have been key to the project. Hidden among the details of Chris Vermeulen's announcement that he was joining Kawasaki in World Superbikes was the level of factory support for Paul Bird's team. The development effort - which will center around a radically changed bike to be introduced in 2011, and rumored to feature a big-bang firing order - is to be led by Ichiro Yoda, the man who led the Hayate effort in 2009, having led both the Kawasaki and Yamaha MotoGP efforts previously. If Hayate were to try and shoehorn a Yamaha engine into the Kawasaki chassis they used last year, not having Ichiro Yoda on board - the man who laid the basis for Yamaha's engine and designed Kawasaki's chassis - would be a huge handicap.

Yoda isn't the only crew member to go missing, though. At least one other member of the Hayate team is making the switch to Kawasaki's World Superbike project along with the Japanese engineering genius, and one or two more could well follow.

So it seems that Hayate team boss Andrea Dosoli has decided to focus his efforts in a class where he can be much more competitive for a great deal less money. Trying to get a Yamaha engine to work in a Kawasaki frame was not impossible, but would have required a good deal of work and would have needed a long lead time before the project became competitive. Electing to buy a chassis from Moriwaki or Suter and using the standard Honda engine is a much easier route to running at the front. The chances of seeing a Hayate in MotoGP again next season look to be very slim indeed.

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Comments

Is it just me or does it seem like MotoGP is trying to make GP more like F1. In F1 each team is required to build its own chassis and they have the opportunity to lease engines from one of several manufacturers. Doesn't it seem like Moto2 is designed to further such systemic changes?

The class was designed to allow private teams to experiment with chassis construction, electronics, and suspension setups so they can develop the expertise needed to build and a rolling chassis. The next major change in the sport after the announcement of Moto2 was the announcement of the engine leasing program---Moto2 and the engine leasing program seem to be intertwined. I think Dorna have given up fighting the manufacturers about the capacity, but I do believe that Dorna and the IRTA are both hugely dissatisfied with the cost of satellite bikes and the results that can be achieved with inferior equipment in the 800cc era.

I'm beginning to think that Moto2 was not the MSMA's baby; instead, a love child between Dorna and the IRTA who are trying to wrestle some of the power back from the MSMA. One of the most important sources of power the IRTA will have in Moto2 will be the ability to get the top talent under contract before the MSMA can get them under contract. Obviously, that arrangement is useless if you run satellite bikes b/c your contracted riders will still be looking for a way out of your team.

Now I see why Herve was somewhat put off by Kropotkin's assertion that the factory teams would simply set up their own satellite teams. Herve's operation is largely controlled by Yamaha. He isn't worried about being replaced, he's worried about liberating himself from Yamaha. Moto2 was designed to give him the expertise he needed to make his own chassis, the engine leasing rule was designed to deliver the engines.

I think the big picture is starting to come together.

There may be 39 slots and another ten in reserve, but I don't think we'll see 10 rows on the starting grid. I'd guess closer to 30 with wild variations in successful packages, rider talent and combinations of the two. I'm not sure if this will make for a great show, disappointed teams that won't qualify or a disaster of back-markers. But it will almost certainly be interesting. Aprilia and Honda reached near parity through years of competition. And even now with a control engine there is probably more opportunity for the bike to matter. It will probably settle out after a year or two and I just hope that a default chassis doesn't result from too much imbalanced success. The opportunity for a wild card entry seems sadly impossible now. I'd like to see some solution for this.

With any amount of luck, the current paradigm will implode. No real changes of benefit will take place until something catastrophic happens. The current structure has run it's course.