Moto2 started as a low-cost racing formula based on a standard single engine, the Honda CBR600RR. Being a Honda-engine-only series, no factory team even thought of fielding a bike with its own colors, but then KTM broke the spell and entered a couple of rather successful bikes that contributed to the development of the RC16 MotoGP racer. Now Moto2 is on the verge of switching from the Honda CBR600RR-derived unit to the Triumph Daytona-derived three-cylinder unit. MV Agusta is a direct competitor to Triumph in the mid-weight three-cylinder segment with a line of models powered by a brilliant 675/800cc three-cylinder engine and the MV F3 proved to be highly competitive in the Supersport series.

inline triple
The MV Agusta entry into Moto2 is powered by an inline triple from Triumph.Courtesy of MV Agusta

The experience gathered in Supersport could be easily poured into the project of a three-cylinder-powered bike that would compete in the reformulated Moto2 series. Giovanni Castiglioni did not miss the opportunity to bring the revered MV Agusta name back to GP racing, though in Moto2 for now. In this adventure MV Agusta teamed up with Swiss-based Forward Racing, a team with very strong experience that began in 2009 on the cinders of the Kawasaki GP team effort. Forward team owner Giovanni Cuzari, CEO of Media Action, a prominent communication agency, focused on Moto2 in 2010, fielding a team based on two young stars: Jules Cluzel and Claudio Corti.

In 2011, Forward Racing acquired sponsorship from NGM Mobile, a mobile phone manufacturer, and this allowed Cuzari to field in 2012 both a MotoGP team, led by none other than Colin Edwards, and continue its presence in Moto2 with Alex de Angelis and Yuki Takahashi. In 2014, Forward Racing Team won the MotoGP Open class with Aleix Espargaró. Through the years, Forward Racing consolidated its experience and its organization, even collaborating with VR46, the team created and fully supported by Valentino Rossi. For 2018, Cuzari hired two young talents, Stefano Manzi and European Moto2 2017 Champion Eric Granado.

MV Agusta does not need any introduction—a legend of motorcycle racing with its 75 world championships, racing, winning, and creating some of the most legendary racing bikes ever from 1952 to 1974. MV Agusta has been missed on the GP scene since then, and its presence in the Superbike and Supersport series never compensated for its absence on the main stage of motorcycle racing.

Moto2 effort
MV Agusta has teamed with Swiss-based Forward Racing to field a Moto2 effort.Courtesy of MV Agusta

The MV Agusta Moto2 bike was developed and finalized by San Marino Republic-based Castiglioni Research Centre (CRC), the spearhead of MV Agusta’s R&D department that was founded by two great characters who influenced the motorcycling world with their passion and creativeness: Claudio Castiglioni and Massimo Tamburini. CRC Director Paolo Bianchi and his team defined as their goal the development of the major variable in a Moto2 bike—the chassis, the determinant factor that differentiates bikes powered by the same engine.

The frame structure appears to be derived from the MV Agusta F3 (but I would underline that “appears to be”), being a well-triangulated steel-tubing trellis frame. But there the similarity ends, not only because of the different engine-to-frame bolting pattern, but also because the Dunlop tires demand a certain degree of chassis flexibility, compared to the Pirelli radials mandatory in Supersport. The trellis structure is integrated by the MV Agusta classic pair of machined aluminum “jaws” that bolt to the rear engine mounts and in the process locate the swingarm pivot. Here the swingarm sports the traditional twin-beam structure.

The chassis spans a 54.4-inch wheelbase and its steering geometry features a 24-degree rake with 4.2-inch trail. All chassis components are top class: suspension by Öhlins, braking by Brembo, forged magnesium wheels by OZ. The three-cylinder Triumph Daytona-derived powerplant displaces 765cc (78 x 53.38mm bore and stroke). MV Agusta’s chief project engineer is hard at work to get the best possible performance from that engine, with the assistance of Magneti Marelli, the official supplier of the engine-integrated ignition-injection management system, and of SC Exhaust Systems, a Milan-based firm that has grown to a very solid position in the field.

MV Agusta Moto2
The MV Agusta Moto2 machine showed promise in its first testing sessions at Misano.Courtesy of MV Agusta

The bike was in Misano on August 1 for its first outing and tests. In a 100-plus-degree day it piled up a remarkable 81 laps in testing, with no major hitches once ECU teething problems were fixed. In the hands of former Ducati Superbike team rider Lorenzo Lanzi, the MV Agusta Moto2 racer recorded a best lap time that was only 1.5 seconds slower than the pole time set last year at the San Marino GP round on the same track. This must be regarded as a promising start to the new adventure, given a rear wheel power barely exceeding 130 hp in the present state of tune.

“Being able to bring MV Agusta, the winningest name in motorcycling racing, back to the GP races is a great honor for me,” MV Agusta President Giovanni Castiglioni commented. “Moto2 Championship is extremely competitive and to succeed we must pour into the project our most advanced technology and experience.”

Godspeed, Giovanni!