From next year both Yamaha and Honda will offer assistance to Moto GP teams competing under the CRT rules in an effort to boost the competitiveness of the Privateer teams. This is in addition to a 2 bike Suzuki Factory team returning next season after 2 years away from the sport, bringing the grid numbers to 8 factory bikes, 6 satellite bikes and a number of CRT privateer entries.
Yamaha Takes the F1 Route
Yamaha is going to offer privateer teams an engine lease with a very similar spec to the Tech III bikes for around £675,000 a season leaving the cost of around £300,000+ for the 2 chassis’s required to fit the bike depending on how much development takes place. However this should see a dramatic improvement in speed as the CRT bikes this year have shown a real performance increase but are still lacking horsepower to compete with the main factory teams. Teams taking this option cannot have their engines “claimed” but will compete under CRT rules with the 24 litres of fuel and the standard ECU with the standard software (from next year all teams will be running a spec ECU but the factory teams will be allowed to write their own software for it). Thereotically this means you could take this engine and power your way into the mid field with a good frame. Interesting indeed. NGM Forward Racing, this year lead by veteran American Colin Edwards are actively chasing a Yamaha deal for next season to replace their current FTR Kawasaki.
Honda Takes the Same Old Route
Honda have also stated they would help privateer teams but instead of giving them near factory spec engines like Yamaha to give them a real shot at upsetting the “full” Moto GP Prototypes (arguably with an M1 engine and a custom frame that WILL be a full Moto GP bike but anyways….) Honda are producing a new production racer for CRT teams next year. The bike will not have Pneumatic springs (which allows higher revs and increases horsepower – only the prototype bikes have this currently) or Honda’s quick shift gear system but it is likely to be fast out of the box. It also has been developed with Dorna’s original target costs for CRT bikes in mind with a price of £850,000 for two bikes along with engine rebuilds for a season. However unlike the Yamaha deal you will actually purchase the Honda and you wont have to give it back at the end of the season. This isn’t really a great solution from Honda as it essentially gives teams a slow the satellite bike to run around and pick up the minor points it misses the point of Moto GP unlike Yamaha who are only giving you a power plant and leaving the teams to develop the rest of the bike around it.
Aprilla Strike Back?
The best of the CRT bikes over the last 18 months (or so) of the Claiming Rules format has been the Aprilla bike which many have said is a thinly veiled factory effort. Although the FTR frames with the Kawasaki engine in the hands of Hector Barbera have left him snapping at the heels of the factory efforts so far this season it has been the heroics of Aleix Espargaro on the ART that have shone the brightest. The latest news is that Aprilla are readying a Pneumatic Valve update for their engine around September which should see a healthy boost to the engine power. All this comes at a cost for teams however and the ART machine is rumoured to cost around £1 million for the two bikes making it arguably the most expensive of the 3 options for next season but it is the tried and tested route.
The remaining bikes range in prices but the FTR and Ioda bikes are rumoured to cost around £700,000 a season (The Avintia Bluesens FTR-Kawasaki costs a mere £600,000 for a pair) but they have been off the pace of the Aprillas this year and would likely be thrashed by a CRT bike from HRC. However you have to weigh up how much support you will receive from Honda over the year as Yamaha and Aprilla are likely to bring any improvements to the bikes down the food chain. Furthermore if Suzuki get off to a solid start claiming points could be difficult as the Ducati seems to be improving its handling woes and it clearly has the legs over the privateer class, meaning 14 out of the 15 points scoring places could now be filled by prototypes. Furthermore with the option to run a “near Tech III” spec engine or the updated Aprilla could leave the rest in the dust, but whatever happens next year the CRT bikes are really going to be in the mix.