The Moto2 rider line-up for 2011 is slowly starting to take something resembling its final shape, with more and more riders signing contracts to ride next year. Kenan Sofuoglu's signing for the Technomag CIP squad provided one catalyst, provoking a spate of moves to secure the known quantities for next season at the Valencia test. The prime mover in that chase was the team that Sofuoglu turned down, with Gresini securing former Tech 3 rider Yuki Takahashi to take the place of the departing Moto2 champion Toni Elias, with Sofuoglu's former Ten Kate Honda World Supersport teammate Michele Pirro taking the second seat in the biggest team in Moto2.
The Tech 3 team had earlier announced the signing of Bradley Smith and Frenchman Mike di Meglio to take the place of the departing Yuki Takahashi and the disappointing Raffaele de Rosa - the Italian being tipped for a return to the 125cc class, along with Hector Faubel (signed for Bancaja Aspar), Joan Olive and Sergio Gadea. Meanwhile, the other hottest seat in Moto2 - the one left vacant by Di Meglio - has been filled by one of the two riders making the jump from the Spanish CEV Moto2 championship, Xavi Fores signing with the Mapfre Aspar team for 2011, joining his CEV Moto2 rival Kev Coghlan on the world stage.
Over at the Jack&Jones team, the gap left by Joan Olive has been filled by former Speed Up rider Gabor Talmacsi, according to the Hungarian press, with the team also ditching the Harris chassis in favor of the more competitive Suter. And speaking of uncompetitive chassis, Ant West has finally given in and signed a contract extension with MZ, where he will be joined by former WSBK rider Max Neukirchner. The team is to be run by Peter Rubatto and Marco Nicotari, the latter formerly responsible for the Pro-Ride Honda WSBK squad, that never made it to the grid last season. MZ is also to enter a squad in the Spanish CEV Moto2 championship, which they will use to help develop the MZ's tubular steel trellis chassis. There have been persistent rumors that the managers of both West and Neukirchner have been trying to persuade the man behind the MZ chassis, Martin Wimmer, to run an FTR chassis alongside the MZ - or even to replace the MZ chassis altogether - to give the team a baseline to use to develop the steel chassis against. Wimmer, however, is not keen on such a solution, preferring to continue work on his brainchild using the data from the two riders and the new CEV team.
The most striking difference between the list from 2010 and that of 2011 is the drastic reduction in the number of chassis. Where last year there were 13 different chassis on the grid - though the Speed Up bike successfully campaigned by Andrea Iannone and Gabor Talmacsi was really an FTR with bodywork refinements by the team themselves - in 2011, there will be just 6 chassis makers, and possibly as few as 5. Suter is the big winner from the 2010 season, the Swiss chassis builder having provided extensive support and a clever range of price options for teams, matched to suit just about any budget. FTR, Moriwaki and Kalex have all been forced to improve in these areas, with FTR due to greatly expand their service levels for 2011, with a truck expected to be at all of the European rounds for next season. Despite the problems, FTR and Kalex will both be expanding their presence in the World Championship for next season, with FTR fielding at least 7 bikes, and Kalex doubling its involvement from 2 to 4 machines, with the addition of the Viessmann Kiefer squad to the Tenerife Pons team.
While most of the seats are already taken, two desirable seats remain open. Alex de Angelis still has no partner at the JiR Moto2 squad, though there is every likelihood this could stay that way, while at Forward Racing, the seat alongside Jules Cluzel also remains vacant. 2010 Forward rider Claudio Corti had a pretty strong rookie year, and could still be in the frame for either of these seats.
Here's the Moto2 line-up as we know it so far:
|Team||Bike||Rider 1||Rider 2|
|Aeroport de Castello||FTR||Kev Coghlan|
|Forward Racing||Suter||Jules Cluzel||???|
|G22 Racing Team||Suter||Fonsi Nieto||Yannick Guerra|
|Gresini Racing||Moriwaki||Yuki Takahashi||Michele Pirro|
|Holiday Gym Racing *||Moriwaki||Xavier Simeon|
|Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2 *||Suter||Thomas Luthi|
|Iodaracing Project||FTR||Simone Corsi||Mattia Pasini?|
|Italtrans Racing Team||Suter||Roby Rolfo?||???|
|Jack & Jones by A. Banderas||Suter||Kenny Noyes||Gabor Talmacsi|
|JIR Moto2||Motobi||Alex de Angelis||???|
|Mapfre Aspar Team||Suter||Julian Simon||Xavi Fores|
|Marc VDS Racing||Suter||Scott Redding||Mika Kallio|
|Monlau Competicion *||FTR||Marc Marquez|
|MZ Motor||MZ/FTR||Max Neukirchner||Ant West|
|QMMF Racing Team||Suter||Mashel al Naimi||???|
|Racing Team By Quereseno||FTR||Esteve Rabat||Yonny Hernandez?|
|Stop and Go Racing Team||Bimota/FTR?||Ratthapark Wilairot||Lukas Pesek?|
|Tech 3 Racing||Tech 3||Bradley Smith||Mike di Meglio|
|Technomag CIP||Suter||Kenan Sofuoglu||Dominique Aegerter|
|Tenerife 40 Pons||Kalex||Axel Pons||Aleix Espargaro|
|Tuenti Speed Up||FTR||Pol Espargaro|
|Viessman Kiefer Racing||Kalex||Stefan Bradl||Randy Krummenacher|
|WTR/Speed Master Team *||Suter||Andrea Iannone|
* Single rider team
name? - Rider not yet certain
??? - Rider unknown / to be announced