Despite the fact that the 2012 MotoGP season has only just got underway, teams in all three classes of the series have started to do the chassis shuffle. The major player in the dance is British chassis maker FTR, the Buckingham-based firm gaining in Moto3 what they are losing in Moto2 and MotoGP.
Highest profile loss for FTR is the defection of Julian Simon of the Blusens Avintia BQR team. According to respected Spanish publication Motociclismo, Simon asked the team to switch from FTR to Suter after finishing 15th in Qatar. Simon had struggled all preseason with corner entry and braking, and never felt comfortable with the front end. His switch to Suter recalls the same change he made in 2010, when the Aspar squad dropped the RSV chassis in favor of the Swiss chassis, a move which saw Simon end the season as runner up to inaugural Moto2 champion Toni Elias.
The Avintia team is also making a change in MotoGP, though this change is less of a surprise. From Jerez, Ivan Silva will be switching from FTR to a carbon fiber chassis built by Inmotec, and based on the chassis being used by Lucas Mahias in the Spanisch CEV Moto2 championship, and which won the final race of the 2011 CEV championship at Jerez, albeit under very wet conditions. The switch had been expected, as BQR (who run the Avintia teams in all three classes) have a very close working relationship with Inmotec, and had initially planned to actually race the Inmotec V4 MotoGP bike in 2012. They abandoned that idea after the test in Valencia, deciding instead to run both Silva and Yonny Hernandez on the FTR Kawasaki tested by the Colombian. Hernandez, who has so far largely outperformed his Spanish teammate this season, is to continue on the FTR, while Silva will use the Inmotec chassis housing the same Kawasaki engine used previously.
Despite the departures in the upper classes, FTR is flavor of the month so far in Moto3. The Laglisse team of Efren Vazquez and Adrian Martin will be dropping the standard Honda chassis in favor of the FTR frame for their Moto3 campaigns, after disappointing starts to the season. Gresini will also follow suit, with the Italian squad expected to put promising Italian youngster on the FTR as well. The move is a logical one, given Gresini's relationship with FTR in MotoGP, where FTR have built the Ten Kate Honda-powered CRT machine being ridden by Michele Pirro.