After a slow start, the 2012 Moto2 grid is starting to fill out, as teams are starting to find riders for the upcoming season. The provisional grid now stands at 30 riders, with 2 more names likely to be confirmed some time in the next few weeks. With Dorna aiming for a maximum of 32 entries in the class, there is little room for new names to appear in the final run up to the 2012 season opener at Qatar in April.
The majority of the Moto2 list is very much as expected: Toni Elias returns to Moto2 with Aspar, where he joins Aspar's reigning 125cc World Champion Nico Terol; Marc Marquez and Andrea Iannone stay where they were, as do Bradley Smith, Scott Redding, Mika Kallio, Simone Corsi, Thom Luthi, Ratthapark Wilairot, Randy Krummenacher and Dominique Aegerter. Slightly less expected was Julian Simon moving to the BQR team, while Tito Rabat leaves BQR to take a spot at the Pons squad, alongside Pol Espargaro, who takes the seat at Pons vacated by brother Aleix, who has moved up to MotoGP. Alex de Angelis moves to the Forward Racing team after an impressive year on the Motobi at JiR, while his seat at JiR is taken by Johann Zarco, the Frenchman who pushed Nico Terol so hard to the final 125cc title. Former World Superbike rider Max Neukirchner moves to fill the very big boots left empty by 2011 champion Stefan Bradl at Kiefer, meanwhile.
The Moto2 class also sees some interesting newcomers. As well as Terol and Zarco, many people will be watching Angel Rodriguez, the former Spanish champion who was forced to stop racing for a couple of years after testing positive for illegal drugs. 'Rodri' was very highly regarded before he was suspended by the Spanish federation, and his return will be closely watched. Jonas Folger also moves up to Moto2, joining the MZ team and taking the place of Neukirchner. Folger's form was mixed in 125s, brilliant one week and forgettable the next, and the German will need to find some consistency to be competitive in Moto2. World Supersport rider Gino Rea looks almost certain to join the Gresini team, adding another promising young British rider to the grid. Rea - no relation to World Superbike rider Johnny Rea, and pronouncing his name differently (Ree-ah instead of Ray) as well - will serve as another test case as to whether WSS can serve as a feeder class for Moto2.
One rookie likely to generate a lot of media interest regardless of results is Elena Rosell. The 25-year-old Spaniard becomes only the fourth woman to race full time at the Grand Prix level, joining a select company including Katja Poensgen of Germany, Taru Rinne of Finland and the Japanese rider Tomoko Igata. Rosell rode as a wildcard with the Aspar team at Assen, Aragon and Valencia, though she - and the Aspar team - faced criticism for failing to qualify at Assen, and failing to impress at either of the Spanish races. Rosell struggled at Aragon as well, but at Valencia, the Spaniard was much closer to the pace of the Grand Prix regulars, though still finishing 25th. The massive media interest in her at all three of her appearances may have been a factor in her results, and a full season in Moto2 should give everyone concerned a much better view of Rosell's real ability, and open the doors for more female riders.
A more interesting development is in the area of chassis. Both Suter and FTR have fallen out of favor, with Suter supplying just 7 bikes instead of 13 last year, and FTR down 4, with 8 probable customers rather than 12. Kalex is the big winner, as expected after Stefan Bradl took the title on a Kalex in 2011, with 5 riders switching to the German chassis maker. Marc VDS Racing is probably the biggest team to make the switch, with both Scott Redding and Mika Kallio pronouncing themselves happy with the new chassis, but Andrea Iannone is also said to be on the brink of making the switch, after having tested the Kalex at Valencia and ignoring the FTR he had in the garage as well.
Success clearly sells, though the perceived favoritism that Suter showed to Marc Marquez was also a factor for some teams to decide to drop the Swiss firm. For FTR, their failure to book solid and consistent results - despite several podiums - worked against the British firm, while several teams also expressed their concern at the amount of work FTR were taking on, building both Moto2 and Moto3 bikes, along with separate MotoGP machines for Gresini and BQR, as well as planning a chassis for the Aprilia engine.
The risk is that Kalex could also find themselves overextended in 2012, with the German chassis builder supplying 9 riders in Moto2, as well as partnering with KTM to supply at least 3 Moto3 riders, a major expansion of their program from 2011. Last season, Kalex had just 4 bikes on the Moto2 grid.
The number of chassis manufacturers looks to have settled at six. Kalex, FTR and Suter continue to dominate the class, with Moriwaki supplying the QMMF team, and Tech 3 cutting their involvement from 3 to 2 bikes (partly due to Guy Coulon starting work on both a Moto3 and a MotoGP chassis for when the team moves to take on CRT status in 2013). Motobi - basically, a Japanese TSR chassis badged with an old Italian motorcycle brand - continue to support the JiR team, expanding their commitment from 1 to 2 bikes.
Below is the latest list, as of December 13th 2011. A revised list can also be found here.
|3||Simone Corsi||FTR||IODA Racing|
|4||Randy Krummenacher||Kalex||GP Team Switzerland|
|9||Kenny Noyes||AJR||Bainet Sport|
|12||Thom Luthi||Suter||TT Motion Events|
|14||Ratthapark Wilairot||FTR||Team SAG|
|15||Alex de Angelis||Suter||Forward Racing|
|18||Nico Terol||Suter||Mapfre Aspar|
|19||Xavier Simeon||Tech 3||Tech 3|
|21||Alessandro Andreozzi||FTR||Speed Up|
|24||Toni Elias||Suter||Mapfre Aspar|
|29||Andrea Iannone||FTR Speed Up||Speed Master|
|36||Mika Kallio||Kalex||Marc VDS|
|38||Bradley Smith||Tech 3||Tech 3|
|44||Roby Rolfo||Suter||Technomag CIP|
|45||Scott Redding||Kalex||Marc VDS|
|47||Angel Rodriguez||FTR||Team SAG|
|72||Yuki Takahashi||Suter||Forward Racing|
|76||Max Neukirchner||Kalex||Kiefer Racing|
|77||Dominique Aegerter||Suter||Technomag CIP|
|93||Marc Marquez||Suter||Monlau Competicion|
Rider numbers not final yet. Numbers from riders entering the championship based on numbers used in previous championships.