KTM has surprised the Grand Prix world by announcing that they have built a complete Moto2 bike, together with their partner WP Suspension. The Austrian manufacturer is to give the bike its first rollout at Almeria this week, and announced the existence of the bike on Sunday.
KTM have decided to view Moto2 as part of a wider strategy in Grand Prix. After the success of their Moto3 project, and with their MotoGP project due to make its debut in 2017, having a representative in the intermediate class would provide a path for KTM to bring young talent through the ranks.
That strategy is already being played out in part the Ajo team, who run the factory Red Bull KTM project in Moto3, and run 2015 world champion Johann Zarco in Moto2. The Ajo team are the logical partners for KTM when they enter MotoGP next season.
The existence of KTM’s Moto2 project had been kept a closely guarded secret, and came as a surprise to many.
The fact that Moto2 uses a spec Honda CBR600RR engine has been a huge obstacle to manufacturers wanting to get involved in the class. Aprilia had originally planned to enter Moto2, but decided against it for this very reason.
Having a Moto2 bike would complete KTM’s lineup. The Austrian manufacturer appears to have accepted that to enter Moto2, they will have to build a bike to house an engine not manufactured by them.
That may change from 2019. Honda’s contract to supply the spec Moto2 engine ends after the 2018 season, and Honda have indicated that they are not interested in continuing.
There has been speculation as to what could replace the current Moto2 engine configuration, but anyone hoping the class could be open to competition is likely to be disappointed.
The Moto2 teams are dead set against any changes to the spec engine situation, because of the incredibly low cost of competing in Moto2.
It is considerably cheaper to race in Moto2 than it is in Moto3, because of the price of machinery, despite attempts at capping costs in the junior class. As one senior factory figure put it this week, the cost of competition is directly proportional to manufacturer interest in a class.
“The Moto2 project has a great significance for us. Through our growth and long-term investments we are in a position to close this final gap in our activities in the sport of Grand Prix road racing,” said KTM CEO Stefan Pierer.
“A young rider can gather his first experience in the Rookies Cup and then advance to our own in-house Moto3 team, then further, via the new Moto2 project into the MotoGP class. These are concepts that have repeatedly proved to be successful for KTM and WP in professional racing, and in the future we want to have riders for our MotoGP project that have advanced right through the entire KTM Academy.”
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.