In the Moto3 World Championship, not everything is as fine and pretty as it seems at first glance. And the problems behind the scenes have to do with the policy of Factory Racing KTM, which clones its bikes under different brands with the aim of total dominance in the junior class market. Honda, however, IRTA, Dorna, and FIM benefit from the current situation.
Looking soberly at the situation in the Moto Grand Prix junior class, there are only two strong teams left in Moto3 representing Honda racing – the independent Leopard Racing Team and Honda Asia, the de facto factory development team.
Let me remind you that the Moto3 class appeared in 2012 to replace the GP125. In the first season, 8 different manufacturers of engines and chassis were involved at once, but after 3 seasons, the competition survived only two major factories – Honda and KTM, the others left the scene. Moreover, KTM in the beginning decided to act cunningly: under different signs in the championship began to enter new manufacturers, which de facto used the ready-made factory models KTM RC16, but in other colors and with a slightly modified design facing. Thus, Husqvarna, GasGas and CFMoto appeared in Moto3.
A behind-the-scenes confrontation between some KTM and Leopard Racing teams emerged in 2017. The Honda NSF250RW has a very strong and tr active motor, which has always bothered KTM’s rivals, especially on tracks with long straights. A real information war started against the Honda teams, Leopard in the first place – they were accused of violating technical regulations, cheating with electronic engine revolutions control units, illegal engine manipulation… and so on. Dorna Sports and the Directorate of the championship even initiated a couple of investigations, but they all showed that in Leopard Racing all is clear! In the end, some particularly ardent “black PR people” were prosecuted – heavily fined for slander in the paddock.
But it seems that it was the turn of the leopard of the race and Honda to demand justice.
German makes reported that after the Grand Prix of the Netherlands Leopard Racing received an official protest to the MotoGP Race Directorate, and then to the FIM, demanding to recognize the illegal use of identical prototypes in the KTM Manufacturers Cup, at least for violation of a clause of the new regulations.
If you read the Technical Regulations of the MotoGP race literally, it says: that the prototype must be unique, at least in chassis and engine design. However, the fact is that KTM motorcycles and Husqvarna, GasGas, and CFMOTO do not differ even in the details of the bodywork, but only the names and colors. And now they will be identical.
Leopard Racing has protested twice, as it turned out – after the Italian Grand Prix, and also in the Netherlands. The main reason for the protest is the violation by KTM of the new paragraph of the Moto3 Technical Regulations, according to which the electrical circuits (“braid” – a set of electrical wires linking all components) must be unique and now refer to the type of performance part components (tuning), their cost will also be limited from 2023 so that wealthy teams do not use “golden wire”. All KTM prototypes (Husqvarna, GasGas, etc.) use the same circuit – 100% factory, like the Red Bull KTM AHO team. In and Leopard Honda felt it directly violated the new regulations.
But both times the protest was rejected, which means that neither Honda nor Leopard Racing can demand satisfaction for the third time, and KTM gets an indulgence for 100% cloning of not only engines and chassis, but also electronic circuits. According to the administrative code, Leopard now has to pay 7500 euros for the costs, according to the FIM administrative code.
That the change in the IRTA regulations was that the changes in the 2021-22 regulations were adopted taking into account the wishes of all MSMA members, including Honda Racing. Thus, the conventionally adopted rules should suit Honda as a manufacturer, and the team’s claims, in this case, are negligible.
After the Dutch Grand Prix Moto3 constructors’ cup with a whopping 54 points leads GasGas, while Honda is in 2nd place, 7 points ahead of KTM. But until a couple of races ago, GasGas and KTM were coming in 1-2.
The position in the Moto3 Manufacturers Cup after the DutchGP:
- GazGas – 235 points.
- Honda – 181
- KTM – 174
- Husqvarna – 133
- CFMoto – 95