For those of you who do not follow the MotoGP series, there is a new second tier class this year. After sixty years, the 250cc category was replaced this year by Moto2. The change from 250cc two strokes, to 600cc four strokes has divided opinions on the Internet forums.
The new class has a “control” engine supplied by Honda and “control” tyres, supplied by Dunlop. I suspect the rules for the category were finalised at around the time of the Global Financial Crisis and have been heavily influenced by the desire to keep the costs of this class down. As with the earlier change from 500cc two strokes, to the 990cc four stroke in the premier MotoGP class, this change in formula has generated a renewed enthusiasm amongst the racing fraternity. As a result, around forty-three riders are partaking in the formula.
The rules, plus the sheer number of bikes on the track have made for some quite interesting racing in the opening two events this year. The knockers are quick to point out that the lap times are slower than the 250cc two strokes they replaced, but racing where plenty of overtaking takes place overrides this concern.
When a new and significantly different category of racing starts, it ‘levels the playing fields” between the different teams. Data gathered from previous years is no longer relevant and so, most teams feel they have a fighting chance of being “up at the pointy end of the field”. Unfortunately, this only really lasts for one season. The introduction of 990cc four strokes in MotoGP saw renewed enthusiasm from manufacturers with Aprilia and Kawasaki fielding entries, and Ducati following the next year.
Several years later, Aprilia and Kawasaki are gone. Without good results, sponsorship is hard to come by. Somehow, Suzuki still field bikes despite their lack of decent results. Will the same fate of shrinking numbers on the grid befall Moto2? Given the current huge number of bikes in the competition, you would expect some reduction in numbers over the next couple of years. Hopefully the measures put in place to restrict costs will stop the wholesale decimation of the grid numbers.
As for me: personally, I am just hoping to see a good season of close racing and maybe witness the rise of a new champion in the sport. Bring it on!