After 10 days of delay, the list of 2012 MotoGP entries has finally been announced. Or rather, the list of entries under the CRT rules, as the new manufacturers (such as Norton) talking about entering the class on the same footing as the factory teams have yet to be announced, with talks ongoing between the FIM, Dorna, IRTA and the new manufacturers about who will be admitted and on what grounds.
The lack of manufacturers underlines the problems the 2012 entry process has created. The entry list was initially expected to be issued during the Barcelona Grand Prix weekend, but arguments over the claiming rule prevented the list from being finalized. With a number of potential entrants talking to Aprilia about leasing WSBK-spec RSV4 engines, the right of the manufacturers to claim an engine was hotly disputed, with an escape route being asked in such cases for the CRT teams to switch to factory status and lose the 3 extra liters of fuel and 3 extra engines they would be allowed under the CRT rules.
The list announced include six Moto2 teams - BQR (Blusens), Forward, Viessmann Kiefer, Marc VDS, Paddock GP (Interwetten) and Speed Master - generally regarded as being among the best (and best-funded) in the paddock. Each team will be given a slot for one rider next year, though riders have not yet had to be entered. However, given the teams entered, we can take a guess at who will be riding a CRT bike in 2012. Here's the current best-effort guess at the CRT teams for 2012:
|By Querosono Racing (BQR)||Tito Rabat?||Kawasaki ZX-10R||FTR?|
|Forward Racing||BMW S1000RR?||Suter?|
|Kiefer Racing||Stefan Bradl?||?||Kalex|
|Marc VDS Racing||BMW S1000RR?||Suter|
|Paddock GP Racing||Thomas Luthi||?||?|
|Speed Master||Andrea Iannone||Aprilia RSV4?||FTR?|
Of the riders, only Thomas Luthi and Andrea Iannone are certain - or as certain as we can be at this stage in the game - and of the engines, the BMW and Aprilia are sure to feature, while sources close to BQR say that they will be building a bike around the Kawasaki ZX-10R engine, currently the class leader in horsepower, and with a longer stroke making for a more usable engine. Of the chassis manufacturers, FTR, Kalex and Suter are all known to be building chassis for the CRT teams, with Suter's effort the most public, while FTR is also working on Norton's MotoGP project. The Norton project is rumored to be stalled over internal company issues, which may explain why the new manufacturer entries have yet to be announced.
Questions remain over whether the CRT teams will be competitive. Though the teams will have access to nearly identical electronics systems to the factories - Magneti Marelli is perfectly happy to sell them their latest systems - the problem is the petabytes of data and years of experience the teams have in putting the electronics to use. As we saw recently, when Andrea Zugna and Cristian Battaglia defected from Yamaha to Honda, engineers who can get the best out of the electronics are both in very short supply and their market it price is rising rapidly. There are only a handful of people who understand both motorcycle racing and programming sufficiently enough to get the best out of the electronics systems currently in use in the paddock, and it will be hard for the CRT teams to compete against the factory set up. Opportunities to learn to use the electronics are similarly limited, given that the factories place their own engineers with the satellite teams, rather than allowing the satellite teams a chance to develop their own software and electronics packages. Even in the age of the CRT, electronics will continue to dominate.
Besides the CRT entries, all current MotoGP teams will be offered a slot on the 2012 grid as well, though rumors that the LCR Honda team could switch to become a CRT entry persist. Aspar is close to securing a deal to run two Ducati Desmosedicis for 2012 instead of just one, and strong and credible rumors continue that this will be the last year that Suzuki continues as a MotoGP manufacturer.
Below is the official press release announcing the teams:
MotoGP Class entries in 2012
As previously notified, the existing teams in the MotoGP class will all be offered a contract of participation with IRTA for the 2012 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix season.
Applications from new teams for this class exceeded the likely number of places available. Following the selection procedure it has been decided to offer additional contracts of participation with IRTA to each of the following teams all of whom currently participate in other classes of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix:
BY QUEROSENO RACING
MARC VDS RACING TEAM
PADDOCK GP RACING
In each case the offer is with respect to one rider only and is subject to the submission of their final plans.
Applications from new manufacturers wishing to participate in MotoGP continue to be evaluated. Further information will be provided when a decision has been taken on such applications.