A day after the provisional entry lists for the Grand Prix classes were released by the FIM, and there's one change already. Today, Husqvarna announced that they would be joining the Moto3 world championship, and fielding a factory team.
The Red Bull Husqvarna Factory Racing team will be run by Aki Ajo, and have Danny Kent as rider. Furthermore, Husqvarna will also be providing support for Niklas Ajo in the Avant Tecno team.
The announcement that Husqvarna is racing in Moto3 does not mean a brand new bike will be entered. The Husqvarna will be a rebadged KTM, run under a similar arrangement as Gilera and Derbi in the 250cc and 125cc classes, which were really just rebadged Aprilias. Danny Kent's Moto3 bike will be a factory KTM with a Husqvarna badge on the tank. That KTM would use such an arrangement is not unusual: Pierer Industries, the majority stakeholder in KTM, is also 100% owner of Husqvarna, having acquired the brand earlier this year. Husqvarna off-road bikes are currently being produced in KTM's factory in Mattighofen, Austria.
The entry of Husqvarna into Moto3 is very much a return, rather than a new entry. The Swedish brand known for its motocross and other off-road machinery raced in the 250cc class in the mid-Sixties, scoring points with Kent Andersson in 1966. That bike was a single cylinder two stroke built around a modified motocross engine. They also raced in the 500cc class, with another Swede, Bo Granath at the controls. That bike was a 500cc two-stroke twin in a Seeley frame. For a little more background on the subject, see the article on Motoworld.es.
Below is the press release from Husqvarna on their entry in Moto3:
HUSQVARNA MOTORCYCLES ENTER 2014 MOTO3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
THE OFFICIAL TEAM WILL BE NAMED RED BULL HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING AND DIRECTED BY TEAM MANAGER AKI AJO. OFFICIAL TEAM RIDER WILL BE BRITAIN’S DANNY KENT.
Husqvarna Motorcycles is pleased to announce their participation in the 2014 Moto3 World Championship, which starts in Doha, Qatar on March 23. The official team will be named Red Bull Husqvarna Factory Racing and directed by team manager Aki Ajo. Official team rider will be Britain’s Danny Kent.
Under the watchful eye of experienced former racer Aki Ajo, who has enjoyed a long and successful career in motorsport racing and team management, Danny Kent will challenge for the Moto3 World Championship title. A second Husqvarna will be ridden by the promising young rider Niklas Ajo from Finland. Stepping into Grand Prix Road Racing in 2014, Husqvarna Motorcycle’s will begin an exciting new racing chapter.
The Moto3 class was introduced in 2012, replacing the 125cc two-stroke category. The class highlights up-and-coming young talent and is a proving ground for racers aiming to progress into Moto2 and eventually into the main MotoGP class. Machinery is restricted to single-cylinder 250cc four-stroke engines. The minimum total weight for motorcycle and rider is 148 kg (326 lb.). Riders in the Moto3 class cannot be older than 28 years.
Stefan Pierer, KTM AG CEO: “Running Husqvarna in the Moto3 World Championship will bring considerable interest to both the category and the brand. With its history of 110 years the Husqvarna brand is highly known throughout the world of racing. The Moto3 stage will give a further boost to grow Husqvarna stronger than ever. We’re looking forward to see great competition next year. ”
Pit Beirer, head of Husqvarna Motorsport: “After our strong commitment to offroad competition, entering the Moto3 World Championship is a new milestone in the history of Husqvarna. With the full support of Mr. Pierer and the Husqvarna Motorcycles Board of Directors, we are extremely excited about this new project. We will bring the best people and all the necessary energies together to give the project the success it deserves. Danny Kent will be our official factory rider, with Niklas Ajo our official support rider. Both hugely talented young racers, we are looking forward to the start of Husqvarna’s new journey into Grand Prix Road Racing.”