Kawasaki To Get Moto2 Spec Engine Deal?
Ever since it was realized that any attempt to field modified road bikes in Moto2 would be scuppered by a nuclear strike from Infront Motor Sports, the organization that runs World Superbikes and has an exclusive contract with the FIM to race production motorcycles, Dorna, the FIM and the teams have been casting about for a solution. What they came up with to avoid the confrontation with the Flammini brothers was for the the engines to be supplied by a single supplier, thus handily sidestepping the "production" problem altogether.
The contract for the spec engine was to open to public tender, and would last for three years. But ever since the proposal emerged at the IRTA Test at Jerez, there have been murmurings that the deal to supply the series had already been stitched up behind closed doors, and the open tender process would be a mere formality.
According to Visordown's MotoGP mole - an anonymous but often well-informed source - this is precisely what has happened. Visordown is reporting that the Moto2 engine deal will be awarded to Kawasaki, as a way of keeping them in the series without the Japanese manufacturer burning through cash in the way that their MotoGP program did.
While keeping a manufacturer in the series is to be applauded - Kawasaki only returned to MotoGP after the series went four stroke, after an absense of nearly 20 years - any such deal would also close the door to entirely new entrants. The name of Ilmor has been linked to the Moto2 class almost since the new rules were mooted, and several smaller engineering companies, such as the US-based Cosentino Engineering, have expressed serious interest in the class. Bringing such companies into the paddock would allow them to gain experience of the series in a restricted environment, and give them exposure to the MotoGP paddock, making the step up into the premier class significantly smaller. In the medium to long term, this could lead to such companies providing bikes to help fill the MotoGP grid, and perhaps even bring down the costs of the premier class.
It would also remove any grounds Infront Motor Sports would have for blocking the new series. If a Japanese supplier, such as Kawasaki, was to field a racing version of their middleweight sports bike, then there's every chance that IMS would either sue, or demand that the FIM step in - "we are certain that the FIM will protect our interests," as an Infront Motorsports spokesperson put it to us at Valencia. A specialist engineering company which isn't involved in road bike manufacturing would circumvent any and all of those problems.