The official outline of what the new intermediate class will look like is still in development, but there is talk of the four-cylinder 600 bikes and new arrivals being grouped into distinct classifications. A good idea or too complicated to explain?
The cover image perfectly sums up the current Supersport concept, with the Yamaha R6 bikes dominating and making up a good part of the grid, the Kawasakis on the defence, fielding only a few Ninjas, and MV Agusta doing what it can, and standing out with Nikki Tuuli.
This is a framework that will soon be revolutionised, but will it really be as they say? Will the arrival of the Ducati 955 V2, the Varese 800 three-cylinder and the Triumph 765 cc three-cylinder turn the results around? To optimise costs, the space-time ratio and with the aim of using credible data, Dorna and FIM have come up with the following idea.
A 2022 intermediate class in which the four-cylinder 600s - assisted by certain modifications such as 320 mm brakes offered by the racing kit, a rear pump activated by the left handlebar, a blipper that can be used despite the absence of Ride By Wire and other small refinements to make them more competitive – would represent the ‘real’ world championship, while the new arrivals would be considered separately.
As we have written, what better test than a race weekend? The track and weather conditions are the same for everyone, the Pirelli tyres too, all you have to do is head out on track and open the throttle. And because there are points and relative prizes up for grabs, riders and teams avoid any particular strategy.
What do we mean? Well, have you have seen or taken part in a comparison test, carried out in order to create the framework for a future regulation? Certain riders might purposely fail to express the bike’s real potential, a strategic move in order to ‘request’ greater freedom when it comes to preparing the model in question.
Or, for one reason or another (for example, the particular bent of one model at a given circuit, something its rider is perhaps well aware of), you see exaggerated performance from X and Y but only in one particular case and then not at any other tracks. To remove any doubt, get everyone together from the first championship round and then make the necessary adjustments and considerations. It’s already been done after all.
With the announcement of the 990 four strokes, four manufacturers took to the world championship grid in 2002: Honda – far and away the strongest with its five-cylinder, Yamaha with an M1 that was more production-derived than prototype, Suzuki and its strange GSV-R, Aprilia and the revolutionary Cube, an extraordinary but costly three-cylinder. And at the end of the year, Kawasaki, not part of the championship now.
The rest of the grid comprised "old" 500 two strokes. Or rather legendary 500 two strokes that, with only a few exceptions and thanks to the ability of those riding them (remember Jeremy McWilliams’ pole with the Proton KR3 at Phillip Island?), came in behind the new arrivals, which were immediately more technological and less difficult to ride, the manufacturers recognising that these bikes were in fact the future of MotoGP.
And who remembers that hybrid season? It wasn’t the best, not least because many of those watching on TV or reading the papers struggled to understand the real levels of the various teams. And there was no separate classification like with the CRT or EVO class, so it was even more complicated.
And so to the crux of the matter – the intermediate class is about to undergo a change but will it be ready for it? It’s already mid-October and, considering the work that needs to be done before teams line up for the 2022 season start in March, time is ticking.
Riders and teams will be looking for answers at San Juan, but will Dorna and the FIM be forthcoming? And what will happen if they’re not? Should teams continue to wait, ready to use the R6 and ZX-6R models they already have in the garage, or invest in Ducatis, MV Agustas and Triumphs? Without forgetting that, on the back of the upcoming experiment, the category will welcome additional new models.
Some manufacturers will churn out an "R" or "SP" version, complete with relevant kit. The New Era or New Generation – the name is still to be defined – is looming and, although we continue to await the all-important pdf file with the new regulation, the feeling is that those who need to know, do in fact already know. And have done for a while.
Translated by Heather Watson