With 14 different chassis manufacturers lining up on the grid in Moto2, it was inevitable that at least one would suffer problems. After a poor start to the season, the Mapfre Aspar team of Julian Simon and Mike di Meglio have decided to switch chassis from Le Mans onwards, according to reports on the Spanish website Motocuatro.com, the Spanish magazine Motociclismo and the Italian website GPOne.com. From the French Grand Prix on, the Aspar riders will be using the Suter MMX chassis which currently dominates the grid.
The decision had apparently been imminent for a while. The Aspar team had expressed their dissatisfaction with progress previously, as well as their concern at the weight of the RSV chassis, which was some 10 kg heavier than the Suter chassis. In addition, the RSV had aerodynamic limitations, which saw the Aspar bikes with top speeds 4-5 km/h down on the fastest bikes at both Qatar and Jerez. GPOne had originally reported the rift last week on Thursday, but the divorce was immediately denied by the RSV Moto2 bike's project leader Salvatore Giorlandino. In the end, team boss Jorge Martinez gave in to pressure from reigning 125cc World Champion Julian Simon, and the Aspar team is due to test the Suter chassis at a private test at Albacete in the coming week.
The Aspar team had originally tested 3 chassis prior to the start of the season: The RSV, the Suter and the Moriwaki. They finally elected to use the RSV because this would allow them to have direct influence over the direction of development of the chassis, something which would be more difficult with either the Moriwaki or the Suter, as both of these chassis have many more bikes on the grid. But according to reports in both the Italian and the Spanish media, that development was not being carried out fast enough.
This left Aspar with a choice of the two chassis the team had tested earlier. Two factors seem likely to have influenced the choice of the Suter: The first was the simple fact of being able to receive the chassis on time for Le Mans. Delivery lead time for a Moriwaki chassis is in the region of 20 days, due in large part to the fact the chassis has to come all the way from Japan. Although initially, it seemed as if a Suter chassis would not be available until Mugello, it seems as if the Swiss manufacturer has been keen to lure a big-name team like Aspar into the fold, and has provided them with a frame and spares in time for next week.
There is good reason to doubt the wisdom of deciding to switch chassis after just two races, and perhaps also reason to be sceptical of the reports themselves, despite the excellent reputations of their sources. Apart from the fact that the development of the chassis has only just begun, the cost of the operation is considerable, despite the relatively low costs of the chassis. RSV are almost certain not to return the money already paid for their chassis, claiming justifiably that Aspar is the party who decided to break the contract. In addition to this, Aspar will have to fork out some 70,000 euros each for both Simon and Di Meglio, for chassis and spares for the Suter MMX. This sum is another reason that Aspar may have plumped for Suter over Moriwaki, as the Japanese chassis is several thousand euros more expensive than the Swiss frame.
Whatever the reasons behind the switch, the operation makes a mockery of the cost-cutting aspect of Moto2. As one senior bike designer pointed out last year, there is no such thing as cost-cutting in racing, as the teams will spend whatever it takes to win.