The perilous state of the MotoGP grid has long been a topic of conversation among MotoGP fans. The grid threatened to drop to just 15 bikes earlier this year, but intervention from Dorna allowed Pramac to keep running two machines instead of dropping to one, and a sponsorship boost from Repsol helped Honda field three riders in its factory team, freeing up space at Gresini for Hiroshi Aoyama.
That still leaves the grid at just 17 bikes, however: six Hondas (three Repsols, two Gresinis and one LCR), six Ducatis (two Marlboro factory bikes, two Pramac bikes, one Aspar bike and one Cardion bike for Karel Abraham), four Yamahas (the factory squad and Tech 3) and a solitary Suzuki, Rizla having pulled out and the factory unwilling to run two machines. This is a long way from Dorna's ideal grid size of 24 bikes, but as long as the manufacturers control the technical rules, there is little hope that this might change any time soon.
Some relief could be on its way in the shape of the Inmotec MotoGP project, however. Testing has been underway on the Spanish-based V4 MotoGP machine for some time now, but the company has struggled for funding of the project. The Inmotec MotoGP bike was initially scheduled to be presented at the Barcelona MotoGP round, but had to wait for two and a half months for the Inaugural Aragon MotoGP race to make its debut in front of the MotoGP paddock, though only as a stationary model. The bike did not venture out onto the track.
That looks set to change at Valencia. Inmotec now looks set to take part in the post-race test after the final MotoGP round at Valencia, in the hands of Inmotec's test rider, Ivan Silva. A lot will be riding on the times the Spaniard sets: According to both Motoworld and Dennis Noyes, Inmotec has a Spanish sponsor lined up willing to invest in the project if the times are promising enough. The Inmotec bike would then be entered into the 2011 MotoGP championship with Silva at the helm, the team being run by BQR, who are currently fielding Yonny Hernandez and Mashel Al Naimi in the Moto2 category. The participation of Inmotec would bring the grid back up to 18 bikes for 2011.
A more surprising option comes from the UK. Rumors from UK's F1 corridor - where much of England's racing engineering firms are based - suggest that Norton could be preparing to collaborate with Inmotec for the legendary British marque's return to MotoGP. Unconfirmed rumors have it that Stuart Garner, the man who bought the legendary British brand and has reintroduced a range of naked retro sports twins, is unsatisfied with the pace of production for the new range of four cylinder engines he was hoping to use in Norton's new range of ultra-modern sports machines, which were to form the basis of the brand's MotoGP entry from 2012, and is looking to Inmotec for help in building engines for the Norton MotoGP effort. So far, Garner has failed to respond to MotoMatters.com's requests for information, so for the moment, these suggestions are still no more than industry gossip.