Spirit Motorcycles: a potted history of the British GP2 pioneers

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Spirit Motorcycles was borne out of passion in June 2016, with the objective of building a prototype Moto2 bike that would be cost effective for younger British riders on which to compete.

That ambition was to encourage talented younger riders to obtain experience with fully adjustable chassis and lighter-weight bikes – aspiring to learn in a similar fashion to their continental cousins, particularly in Spain and Italy.

Spirit convinced British Superbike Series Director Stuart Higgs to afford them the opportunity to run the first bike in 2017 by invitation, so there were no points or prizes on offer. Nonetheless, Spirit secured seven pole positions, four wins, four second places and three third placed finishes out of 14 races. The following season, Higgs announced the British GP2 championship.

To ensure the class matured and the bikes on offer were as close to full Grand Prix level Moto2 machinery, Spirit has developed [over the past two years] a second prototype, the SP2, for the 2020 season.

Substantial investment has been made to offer a world class Moto2 racing motorcycle, utilising the reliable Honda motor, developed over a number of years and as used in the Moto2 World Championship until recently.

An aluminium spar chassis and GP grade swingarm are the core of the Spirit Motorcycles SP2. To compliment the new and highly aerodynamic motorcycle, Spirit chose the Honda 4-cylinder engine as our preferred option, as this is the most common format of engine in world racing. We felt it was important that the upcoming riders developed and learned on this configuration, rather than the more unusual two or three-cylinder middleweight bikes.

The ability of young riders to work with fully adjustable chassis’ and to learn how to provide important feedback to their teams on geometry and suspension settings, is a fundamental objective for Spirit, as we support young riders coming through the British GP2 class. It is hoped that Spirit will be able to field four SP2 motorcycles next season in 2021. In the interim, Spirit is fostered on the development of a state-of-the-art chassis technology for its SP3 for use in the 2022 racing season.

Spirit consists of a small group of highly experienced designers and a network of former MotoGP engineers; this includes chassis expert Steve Bones, who has had huge success designing and fabricating racing motorcycles and components for the MotoGP paddock for decades. Rod McDonagh is the owner of the project and a keen motorcycle enthusiast with a twenty-five year background in corporate and commercial law. Rod has been instrumental in pushing Spirit, to be at the forefront of the development of prototype racing for the next generation of British riders, with the stated aim of supporting future British world champions.

This weekend the team will tackle the Silverstone National Circuit in the British GP2 class. We had a quick catch up with riders Mason Law and Joey Thompson prior to the event, to discuss a weekend that will signify the halfway point in the 2020 season.

Championship leader Law, explained: “Yeah I’m ready for the weekend and ready for Silverstone. We’ve had two rounds now of solid track time, which has been a great help. We’re making good progress with the bike and solving little problems all the time, which is confidence inspiring for everyone involved and shows professional progression. We made a big step in the right direction in the feature race at Snetterton, which resulted in the class win. I think that progress bodes well for Silverstone National Circuit, as there are similarities to Snetterton. We now need to look to start bridging the gap to the Supersport boys and taking it to them. When the time is right we definitely can and hopefully that’s this weekend. I’m looking forward to it.”

Joey Thompson suffered a nasty crash at Snetterton, but has recovered well and is also looking forward to the challenge at Silverstone on the Spirit Moto Corsa SP2 machine.

Joey said: “I took quite a big beating at Snetterton and hurt my back and my elbow. I’ve got a very small fracture on my humerus, but everything is stable and I’m fit to ride. I rode my Suzuki 1000 at Cadwell Park last weekend and had two second places, so that was a good test at a physical track. More than anything, I’m looking forward to getting back on the Spirit GP2, hopefully building on the progress we made at Snetterton and getting myself and the team some good results.”