The FB Corse project grows more serious in its intent. When it was first announced in September 2009, there was some scepticism as to whether the bike would actually make an appearance on the grid. The inline triple was based around the engine, designed and built by the Italian engineering firm Oral Engineering, which BMW had intended to use for their abandoned MotoGP project, and there was some doubt that the engine design could be competitive. As the start of the season approaches, however, the participation of FB Corse is looking ever more likely.
The team had previously announced that they had signed former Suzuki and Kawasaki MotoGP star John Hopkins, though Hopkins' manager denied that the American had put his signature to the deal and was still in negotiations. While Hopper's participation is still not 100% certain, the role of test rider has already been agreed with Luca Cadalora, former 125 and 250cc World Champion, and 500cc race winner. The 46-year-old Italian has followed the progress of the FB Corse project with interest, and has agreed to give the bike a shakedown test at Vallelunga in the next few weeks.
After the test at Vallelunga, the team's objectives are more ambitious. Speaking to GPOne.com, the head of FB Corse Andrea Ferrari confirmed their intention to take part in the final official MotoGP test at Qatar set for March 17-19th, with a view to contesting all 18 races of the 2010 MotoGP season. The team would not make it to the February MotoGP tests at Sepang, instead heading to Spain for further private testing. "We'd prefer to stay closer to our engineering base," Ferrari said. "At this stage, it wouldn't be appropriate to go all the way to Malaysia."
The project is due to be introduced officially on January 21st in Italy, and John Hopkins is expected to be presented as the team's official rider at that event. The American will then remain in Italy with the team for the rest of the month, according to Ferrari.
The most important part of the package has yet to be announced, however. Running a MotoGP team is not cheap, and so far the FB Corse team has been silent on the subject of sponsors. Without a sponsor funding the team, making it to all 18 races would place an insurmountable financial obstacle.
Photos of the FB Corse bike are available over on GPOne.com.