Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Moto3: 250s are back in 2012!

The birth of Moto3: Single-cylinder four-stroke 250s will replace two-stroke 125s from 2012

The arrival of four-stroke Honda-powered 600cc Moto2 machines meant the demise of the much-loved two-stroke 250cc class. However, 250s will be back after all, in 2012. No, those old two-stroke 250s are history. This time around, it will be single-cylinder four-stroke 250s in the new Moto3 class, which will replace 125cc two-strokes in 2012. And with that, two-strokes will be well and truly dead – the world will only be left with four-stroke motorcycle engines. More or less.

The FIM recently released final specs for the Moto3 class, which will take off in 2012. The rules say that Moto3 machines will all be fitted with normally-aspirated (no turbos, no superchargers) single-cylinder 250cc engines that can rev to a maximum of 14,000rpm. No oval pistons, a maximum bore size of 81mm, a maximum of four valves (pneumatic and/or hydraulic valve systems not permitted, variable valve timing not permitted) and a price not exceeding 12,000 euros for each engine.

Unlike Moto2, where only Honda supply engines to all teams, Moto3 teams will be able to source their engines from various manufacturers, though each Moto3 engine manufacturer would be required to be able to supply sufficient engines and spare parts to a minimum of 15 riders per season, if requested. The gearbox can’t have more than six speeds and electro-mechanical or electro-hydraulic clutch actuating systems are not permitted. Also, for the engine, only the ignition/fuel-injection control units (ECU) approved by the series organiser will be allowed.

As is the case with Moto2, Moto3 teams will be able to use a ‘prototype’ chassis, the design and construction of which will be free (within the specified constraints of the FIM Grand Prix technical regulations), and minimum total weight for each motorcycle + rider is 148kg. There are various other constraints for the bikes – no carbon brakes, no carbon wheels, no active or semi-active suspension, only a certain number of tyres per race and use of iron and cast aluminium alloys for most engine parts. And the number of engines that a rider can use up during a season is limited to eight.

The above isn’t a comprehensive listing of Moto3 rules and regulations, but should still provide a fair idea of what the machines will be like. According to some estimates, Moto3 engines will produce around 45-50bhp, which should be interesting since minimum weight for bike + rider is 148 kilos. Of course, in terms of outright speed and acceleration, Moto3 bikes definitely wouldn’t be comparable to the late, great two-stroke 250cc GP racers. Still, we suppose the new Moto3 class does make more sense than 125cc two-strokes and will have hordes of teams signing up for the 2012 season.

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