Moto2 – Defining Fair and Square

When the new Moto2 class was introduced in 2010 the general perception in the media and racing community was less than positive – ‘Boring, NASCAR gets introduced to MotoGP’ about sums up the reaction. Some said spec racing was for the hobby racer, or those just starting out. Others said it eliminated the element of surprise. The bottom line, it was claimed, was that the rules had legislated the mediocre, racing’s greatest sin. INSIDE says it was the best idea that the governing body of MotoGP ever had.

The facts…

  • 44 – The number of different riders mounting the podium.
  • 26 – The number of different race winners we have seen so far.
  • 24 – The number of different chassis manufacturers

As much as they are missed, there’s one overriding reason the 250’s were replaced by the Moto2 class…cost. The virtual monopoly that Aprilia had in the 250cc class meant that the Italian Manufacturer could ask whatever it liked for a competitive bike, and could pick and choose whom to bless with competitive machinery. If you wanted to win races and have a shot at the title, you had little choice but to stump up the million-plus euros Aprilia was asking for a factory-spec RSA 250. It was possible to compete on the cheap – a privateer LE spec machine could be had for as little as 250,000 euros, although engine and chassis upgrades were still extremely expensive – but the only chance of success would come in the rain, when the power advantage of the top bikes disappeared.

The idea behind Moto2 is incredibly simple: As the engine and the electronics suck up most of the cost of development in racing motorcycles, replace the engine with a reasonably priced and available production-based unit, wire it to a controlled ECU, and stick it all in a prototype chassis for an affordable race bike.

Then it all comes down to pure engineering skills for chassis makers – today there are only four of note: Kalex, Suter, SpeedUp and Tech 3.

But just how ‘affordable’ is a Moto2 machine? We estimated costs as much as 400,000 euro a season, per rider and if you want to find a place in a top team then double that figure.

  1. There aren’t any registration fees as reported in some articles. You need to become a member of IRTA and then there will be applicable fees but not fees as such for the rider.
  1. Around 120,000 euro per machine, although this is an average. The chassis alone is priced at 70,000 euro for a Suter, 67,000 euro for a Kalex and 67,500 euro for a SpeedUp – following which you need to get your cheque book out again for wheels, suspension kit and brakes.
  1. Engine lease and maintenance costs are around 63,500 euro a season.
  1. A 7,500 euro bond has to be paid if the team believes the engine is not performing as expected, and wish to return the engine before the 1,500km or 3 race period is up. If Externpro, who conduct the maintenance on the engine, test it and find it is within spec (max of 3 percent difference between all engines) then the team will forfeit that 7,500 euro.
  1. 12 Dunlop tyres per race weekend use to cost a grand total of 40,000 euro a season. That gives each team 204 tyres a season, at an average cost of just under 200 euro a tyre (tyres are now mostly paid for by IRTA and Dorna – 5 front and 6 rear).
  1. 3,500 euro for the 2D data logger used on all the bikes

Of course, there’s a lot that isn’t include here. The most obvious omission would appear to be the salaries paid to the riders, but an educated guess suggests that at least half of the current grid will be riding for free, with the majority of those required to actually bring money to the team. The going rate use to be around 200,000 euro but today most teams ask for at least 500,000 euro for a competent rider to join a competent team.

While the riders race for free, either spending their parents money or that brought to the team by sponsors, the mechanics, team manager, hospitality staff, press officers, and photographers need to be paid in cold, hard cash.

Some of those jobs are farmed out to assignment – photography responsibility is often assigned to one of the army of freelancers or private agencies present at every race, but even that costs around 15,000 euro a year from some of the better agencies in the paddock. Hospitality staff often kip in the trucks, and so do not need accommodation and lodging for the weekend, but still need paying. The hospitality units themselves are specially designed units, as are the race trucks used to transport the bikes from circuit to circuit. And speaking of transportation, everyone needs to be moved around Europe and the World, and given food and lodging for the duration of their stay.

Just calculate the airfares of a dozen people flying to Japan. Add daily F&B, accommodation, and then guess how much a full-time Moto2 mechanic makes…huge costs for a single trip cost to Japan where the rider may crash the bike to pieces just doing his job – preforming at 100% in the most competitive motorcycle-racing field in the world.

Add these ‘incidentals’ to the cost of the bike, and you have a hefty sum that needs to be laid out to go racing for just one season. A team could probably recoup a big chunk of the investment in bikes by selling them on at the end of the year – something that was impossible with the 250’s, which were only available under a lease agreement – and while the cost of a race truck and hospitality can be amortized over multiple riders, classes and even seasons, that’s still a big chunk of change just to turn up to a race.

So, if you’re considering taking the job of a team manger and running a team of two riders make sure your you have a friend or two to lasso a budget of at least 1.5 million euro. And if you want a better chance of winning make that 2.5 million euro (the budget VDC Racing calculates for a season).

Although the bikes may be cheap, the surrounding logistics mean you are unlikely to see much change from 1.5 million euro for a two-team rider team.

So what are the options?

How about an old season bike?

Estimates of what a Moto2 race bike would actually cost vary wildly, so lets review what’s been seen in the market lately.

A Suter race bike as ridden by Gino Rea during the 2014 season was offered for 60,000 euro. The bike came with a 2015 – spec long chassis, Ohlins front and rear suspension, Brembo brakes, OZ wheels, a Moto2-spec Honda CBR600RR engine, and an SC exhaust system.

The Marc VDS Kalex, ridden to the 2014 Moto2 World Championship by Tito Rabat, was up for 75,000 euro. The complete title-winning bike include Ohlins suspension, Brembo brakes, OZ wheels and an Akrapovic exhaust system. A chassis setup kit including swing arm pivot inserts ranging from position 0 to position 4, optional suspension link A and steering stem inserts A, B and C came with the bike.

The Caterham Suter race bike ridden by Johann Zarco finished on the podium during the season finale at Valencia, and includes the 2015-spec long chassis, a prototype swing arm, complete Moto2 engine, WP suspension, Brembo brakes, OZ wheels a 2D data-logging system and Graves Motorsports exhaust system was yours for 65,000 euro.

The Caterham Suter ridden first by American Josh Herrin and then by Thailand’s Ratthapark Wilairot during the 2014 season was priced at 58,000 euro but it had the non-updated 2014-spec chassis along with WP suspension, Brembo brakes, OZ wheels and Graves exhaust system.

So despite all the cost’s you’ve still decided that the job as a team manager is still a good idea. What exactly are all those pesky Moto2 regulations and what specifications do all the manufacturers have to abide by?

  1. Chassis design ‘must be a prototype’, the rules state, with no production parts used. At the same time, exotic metals and electronic suspension are banned, and brakes must be steel rather than the costly carbon used by MotoGP. There’s no minimum weight for a Moto2 bike – its combined weight with the rider must be at least 215kg. Fuel tank size and shape is free – there are no fuel consumption limits for the stock engines. As with MotoGP, fuel is carried as low as central as possible. Eni is the series sole supplier.
  1. Crucially, organizers will also supply the engine management system, with a same for all standard ECU (Delorto). Certain basic tweaks will be permitted using a standard software setting tool, which comes as part of the Moto2 kit. Other software modifications are banned, and the Technical Director has the power to swap ECU’s, as well as to check their recorded data. A standard data logger system is also supplied.
  1. Each rider is allocated a sealed engine from a pool of identical 4-cylinder 600cc Honda units. Only the fuel and oil provided by the official fuel supplier can be used. The engine produces about 132bhp but there’s never been an official statement. And teams can’t run engines on dynos as the engines will be sealed after each race with a special plug for the crank shaft sensor, which will be sealed by IRTA after each race and only released by them before the next race. These engines will last for 3 race meetings and allocated to teams in a lucky draw before the first race meeting and after the 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th and so on.

All maintenance is performed centrally. Teams may not touch the engines beyond basic set-up and running maintenance such as oil changes or replacing plates in the standard slipper clutches.

  1. Radiators are free but use of the standard oil cooler is compulsory.
  1. Air intake design is free but must feed a standard airbox, as supplied to the teams. Throttle bodies and injectors are also supplied, along with fuel lines (fuel lines can be changed to suit each manufacturer).
  1. Two different Dunlop tyre specifications of front and rear tyres give riders a limited choice. Each gets eight front and nine rear tyres for the race weekend plus three sets of wet-weathers. All the tyres are bar coded and allocated to each rider on the day before practice starts by the Technical Director. Some circuits will require ‘dual’ tyres, with different compounds on the left and right shoulders and in some special cases like Australia’s Phillip Island also possibly asymmetric construction. As in MotoGP, no ‘intermediate’ tyres will be supplied.
  1. The chassis ‘must be prototype’, with no production parts. Designers are free to explore chassis possibilities, within existing racing rules. As in all classes, full streamlining is banned.
  1. Choice of front and rear suspension is free but electronic suspension controls are banned, along with high-pressure hydraulic systems.
  1. Wheel dimensions are fixed at 3.75” x 17” front and 6.00” x 17” rear. Composite construction wheels (e.g.) carbon fibre reinforced and carbon brakes are banned. Both rules help control costs.
  1. Exhaust is free but maximum noise level is set at 115dB/A.

So there you have it, a quick look at the Moto2 class, how much it will cost you to take part and why we at INSIDE believe it will continue to flourish in years to come…just one last thought – even cheap racing not cheap, even for cheapskate.

Related projects