RACING STEPS FOUNDATION GEARS UP FOR MULTI-CHAMPIONSHIP MOTO3 CAMPAIGN
Riders switch from two to four-strokes with all-new KRP-built M3-01 Hondas
The Racing Steps Foundation backed motorcycle racing squad is switching from the 125cc category to Moto3 for 2012, it announced today.
The KRP-run team - comprising John McPhee (Oban, Argyll), Fraser Rogers (Chippenham, Wilts) and Wayne Ryan (New Romney, Kent) - is swapping its recently retired Aprilia and Honda two-strokes for the new 250cc four-stroke machines which will be campaigned across Europe.
The extensive test and race programme takes in the three main continental championships for the Moto3 class - the CEV Buckler, CIV and IDM series in Spain, Italy, and Germany - along with the single-round UEM European Championship at Albacete in October.
The squad also hopes to earn wildcard entries to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in June and two other European rounds on the World Championship calendar.
The RSF riders - who competed in Spain's CEV Buckler and British 125GP Championships last year - will step up to the new category astride KRP's own-design Hondas.
The KRP M3-01 machines - which are being built by the Buckinghamshire-based team to its own Moto3-compliant specification - feature innovative chassis and swingarms designed by long-time KRP associate BORA Specialised Fabrications.
KRP team boss-turned-constructor Mark Keen and RSF motorcycle racing co-ordinator Peter Ball are also working closely with ex-Honda and Ferrari engineer Osamu Goto's Lausanne-based Geo Technology on engine supply and race kits.
The prototype chassis are at an advanced stage awaiting delivery of the NSF 250R powerplants and add-ons.
Keen and Ball have scheduled the riders to put the prototype through its paces at Albacete in early March following preliminary test runs in the UK in mid to late February.
"The step up to Moto3 is an exciting challenge," said Ball. "Our preparation is going well, albeit it's going to be a race against time to get the bikes ready and tested for the start of the season due to delays in the supply of Honda engines and other essential components.
"But practically all the other teams are in the same boat so it's going be a more or less level playing field for the majority of us."
Team boss Keen added: "It will be interesting see how the other teams and bikes perform on the basis that we're all starting from scratch. As a constructor our hope is that we've built a better bike than the others. But only time will tell."
The RSF riders will compete in all seven of the CEV rounds in Spain together with selected non-clashing rounds in the Italian CIV and German IDM Championships.
McPhee, aged 17, and Rogers (16), return to action after their debut seasons in the CEV 125cc Championship in which they finished 10th and 18th. McPhee will also draw on the experience gained from three 125cc World Championship rides in 2010/11.
Ryan (15) hits the continental series with two years' experience in the British 125GP Championship under his belt. The teenager - who finished the 2011 UK series as Vice-Champion - also competed in three of the 2011 CEV rounds.
RSF founder Graham Sharp has singled out Dorna's CEV Buckler Moto3 Championship as the team's main focus over the course of the season.
"Dorna has shown time and again that it's the best proving ground for the MotoGP riders of the future," he said. "And MotoGP is where we want our riders to be. That was our aim when we added motorcycle racing to the RSF's remit and that's what we're working hard to achieve. Consequently the CEV Championship is an essential part of our plan."
The team's first race will be round one of the CIV Championship at Mugello on March 25. The opening round of the CEV Buckler Championship takes place at Jerez on April 1.