Britain has long been at the cutting edge of Superbike racing evolution, making the big decisions and doing whatever it needs to in order to keep the racing close, the fans entertained and remain at the top of the tree.
Stuart Higgs and his MCE British Superbike team were early adopters of the control tyre and pioneered the use of a control ECU. When 125cc racing was supplanted by Moto3 in the Grand Prix schedule, BSB soon came into line but a Moto2 class has been slower in appearing.
With manufacturers losing interest in building Supersport bikes (Yamaha is the only one to introduce a new model this year, Honda has killed off the iconic CBR600), Moto2 has to be the future of domestic middleweight racing, as it is in Spain and Italy.
Higgs has already stated he intends to continue with Supersport racing until the end of the 2019 season after a meeting with teams at Silverstone but the series director is fully aware that moves need to be made now to make sure a medium class is fully fledged when Supersport is forced into retirement.
Tony Scott has been allowed to run his Triumph-engined Moto2 at selected rounds this year but hasn’t been collecting points. It doesn’t conform to Supersport rules as it uses slick tyres. And when it has competed, it has been more than competitive. So what could a British Moto2 Championship look like?
Everyone’s first reaction is: expensive. Which, at the top level, is absolutely the case. Estrella Galicia MarcVDS communications guru Ian Wheeler told bikesportnews.com the minimum spend to build a contemporary Moto2 from scratch would be approximately €120,000 but this doesn’t include the engine, which is supplied by IRTA.
A year-old Kalex from Marc VDS would set you back €60,000 and is supplied without engine, suspension or data. With a test engine and suspension, it would be €90,000.
But before everyone starts to wail and gnash their teeth, a 2014 Kalex including engine and some spares can be found for €30,000. By comparison, the MCAMS team currently has a Supersport-spec R6 on eBay for £27,000 – which is the same price. The only trouble being is you bend the Moto2 frame and Kalex won’t make you a new one as they have skipped the tooling.
So, the price isn’t out of the ballpark, and Higgs believes that an economy Moto2 class could be installed within the Supersport series as early as next year.
“We already have Moto3 teams in the paddock who have riders growing like weeds, and they will need somewhere to go. The teams have the infrastructure but we won’t do anything yet to the detriment of Supersport,” he told BSN.
“Clearly, we are not going to advocate teams going to Kalex and building quarter-million pound bikes to race – the cost levels need to be kept as close to the current Supersport levels as they can.”
Cost is, as always, an issue. Tempus MV Agusta team boss Dave Tyson said one of their bikes could be put on the grid for around £20,000 but to build one that can win, as Jack Kennedy has this year, it costs around £12-£15,000 more when you include Ohlins suspension and Motec electronics.
Tyson said he would look favourably on running a Moto2 outfit in 2019 but added he isn’t interested in something that is a halfway house – it needs to be done properly or not at all.
“I would consider running a Moto2 team, absolutely. I am aware of the costs involved in doing it but I’m not interested unless it’s done properly. The bikes need to be Moto2 bikes, not some old lash-up frame with a ten-year old engine in it,” said Tyson, speaking to BSN.
“The rules need to keep costs as low as possible, obviously, but it needs to be a prestigious series – almost as prestigious as the headline act, I think – and the spec of bike should reflect that.”
Instead of purchasing an ex-GP bike, teams can have the option of buying a new frame from engineers such as Harris, who have already been in talks with Higgs about supply of some sort.
“We would develop and manufacture frame kits or rolling chassis for a BSB Moto2,” said the firm’s Stephen Bayford.
“While we have our preferences with regards to engine unit, component parts and regulations, as manufacturers we would design, develop, manufacture and supply within the parameters and budget for the series as stipulated by the organiser of a stand-alone series or to be incorporated within an existing championship.
“As a company we feel that it would be an exiting opportunity for manufacturers, teams and sponsors to support this class, and would give less experienced and established riders and engineers the opportunity to develop and race affordable prototype chassis in the midweight class.”
Bayford wasn’t able to put any ballpark figures on how much individual packages would cost at such an early stage and also pointed out some of the pitfalls of buying an ex-GP bike.
“Until an indication of regulations and allowable engine/chassis components is indicated it is hard to give prices for an unknown. However we are confident that we would supply affordable, highly-competitive frame kits and rolling chassis for the class that would be to customers specification within the confines of the regs that could be maintained going forward cost effectively - so far as any racing is cost effective - and efficiently.
“Buying an ex-GP Moto2 bike seems attractive, that would mean primarily that you have only one choice of power unit, you never really know what you are buying, and maintenance and spare parts going forward for a redundant race bike could provide a challenge.
“It is also possible that many of the components incorporated in a genuine ex-GP machine would not be compliant with a British series and would need to be changed.”
With Harris on board, a Moto2 already in the championship and team managers not averse to switching, a new era could be dawning and dawning as early as 2018…