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RideFast Magazine March 2020

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PADDOCK NEWS Brought to

PADDOCK NEWS Brought to you by TWO- STROKES TO MAKE MOTOGP RETURN BY 2026? KAWASAKI AND REA LOOKING FOR MOTOGP WILDCARD? The news comes after Ezpeleta confirmed in an interview with GPOne in which he confirmed the question was raised and quickly quashed. He said, “Kawasaki asked me for the possibility of doing wildcard with their Superbike. I replied no, because wildcards are reserved for those who participate in MotoGP.” In the interview, the Dorna CEO went on to explain how he felt WSBK fitted into the grand scheme of the things by saying, “I went to the SBK paddock and said clearly that they were second division”. Kawasaki exited MotoGP ahead of the 2009 season citing pressures prompted by the global financial crisis but in lieu siphoned resources towards its WorldSBK effort which at the time was struggling compared with its factory-backed rivals. It proved a shrewd move with Tom Sykes winning its first title in 20 years in 2013 before Jonathan Rea reeled off five consecutive titles between 2015 and 2019. Despite this success, Kawasaki has repeatedly resisted the temptation to return to MotoGP, describing it as ten times more expensive than its WorldSBK effort with no guarantees of success. However, this revelation from Ezpeleta suggests Kawasaki has been considering the prospect of taking an adapted version of its ZX-10RR all the way to MotoGP, though its unclear how it would attempt to do this not least because MotoGP uses Michelin tyres compared with WorldSBK’s Pirelli rubber. Kawasaki did have a minor presence in MotoGP during the CRT era when its engines were used by the Avintia team, while at the time rival ART bikes were ultimately prototype adaptations of the Aprilia RSV4. Ezpeleta doesn’t say which event Kawasaki wanted to wildcard in though a performance at Motegi would be plausible given there is still no Japanese event on the WorldSBK calendar. Of the 13 events on the WorldSBK calendar, MotoGP visited seven of them last season. As a reference, Rea’s Superpole lap during the Jerez round was a 1m 38.247, which would have placed him 19th on the 24-strong grid. Fabio Quartararo’s pole winning lap was a 1m 36.880s Two-stroke engines or motors running on hydrogen could be back in MotoGP by the middle of this decade if targets to make motorsport more carbon neutral are to be achieved. Stinkwheels, as the Americans lovingly referred to them, were canned in MotoGP at the end of the 2001 season as the emissions were far too high and four-strokes were brought in - some say at the behest of Honda - to made reductions. But with new direct injection, pressure charging and other technologies, two-strokes are now more efficient than four-strokes. And hydrogen engines only emit water at the end of a combustion cycle but that tech is still very expensive. F1 chief technical boff Pat Symonds is keen on using a two-stroke formula in its new specification of engine unit in 2025 and MotoGP might follow the same ideas in order to also share development costs. “I’m very keen on it being a twostroke. Much more efficient, great sound from the exhaust and a lot of the problems with the old twostrokes are just not relevant any more,” he said. “Direct injection, pressure charging, and new ignition systems have all allowed new forms of two-stroke engines to be very efficient and very emission-friendly. I think there’s a good future for them.” 22 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE MARCH 2020

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