This winter has seen Tech 3 not only prepare for what looks like being its biggest season in MotoGP, with star rookie Ben Spies joining top satellite rider Colin Edwards, but also expand its racing activities through a two-rider entry in the new Moto2 class.

That in itself is not unique - Gresini, Aspar and Interwetten will also run both a MotoGP and Moto2 race team in 2010.

However, Tech 3 has gone a step further by choosing to design and build its own chassis for Yuki Takahashi and Raffaele de Rosa to race, rather than purchase ready-made equipment from a third party.

This is the story of Tech 3's Moto2 adventure so far in team principal Herve Poncharal's own words:

"After a shakedown, we went Moto2 testing for the first time in the middle of December, with only one bike for Raffaele, and actually the weather conditions were quite good," began Poncharal, speaking exclusively to Crash.net.

"But everything was brand new, Raffaele had never been on a four-stroke before and - I'm being completely transparent and honest - we had some chatter at the front.

"So we left and Guy [Coulon, technical head of the Moto2 project and crew chief for Edwards] had some ideas. So we made some slight modifications - correcting chassis balance is sometimes a question of very small changes - and then we needed to get back on track to see if it had worked.

"But for two and a half weeks, everywhere we were planning to go, it was pouring down with rain! That was just before Christmas and we didn't know if what we had done was better or not! And by then we needed to build the second bike for Takahashi. So what do we do?

"We decided that the modified bike would be for Raffaele and the second bike, for Takahashi, would be the same as the original bike. Just to understand the difference.

"Then the next time we wanted to go to Jerez, again it rained non-stop. No test. Then we went to Valencia on 7-8-9 January and, my god, it was incredibly cold and wet. You couldn't see anything.

"We have been so unlucky with the weather but eventually we could do 20 laps, out of three days, with four degrees of temperature and incredibly high winds. Luckily, in those 20 laps, we could see that for Raffaele the chatter was gone and for Yuki [using the original design] the chatter was still there. The changes had worked. Phew!

"We then modified the chassis for Takahashi as well and tried to go testing again. Jerez was cancelled again and then we went back to Valencia - first day it was raining, second day rain and really cold, and then on the third day we could ride from 1-5pm.

"At that test they both had the 'spec two' chassis and Yuki did a 1min 37.5sec and Raffaele a 1min 38.4sec, I think. So that was a big improvement because Raffaele's best at the previous Valencia test was a 39.1sec and Yuki was a 40.3sec. So Yuki was almost three seconds quicker.

"Okay the conditions were very different but we managed to get some good information. We had some new little things to sort out - every time you go that much faster you always find new problems - so we tried different swing-arm rigidity, front-bridge rigidity, many things.

"The problem was we had such a small amount of track time that we had to test some things with Raffaele and some other things with Yuki. We never managed to put the optimum package together. We would have needed more time to put the best bike together."

So how do those lap times compare with other Moto2 teams?

"If I remember, at the Valencia test straight after the grand prix Toni Elias did a 1min 37.22sec or something," said Poncharal. "When we were there in December Roberto Rolfo did a 37.8sec - there was no official timing - Julian Simon and Mike di Meglio did around the same.

"But [Aspar riders] Simon and di Meglio set their lap times while trying the FTR, the RSV and the Kalex chassis. Yuki did a 37.5sec. So it looks like everybody is fairly close to each other, which is good news for the championship.

"I always said I don't think there will be a huge difference between the different chassis designs on track and so far that seems to be true, although we will have to wait until the official engine arrives to know for sure."

Until the official Honda-built 600cc Moto2 engine makes its debut in March, teams will continue to use various different powerplant specifications. Tech 3 chose to use only a 'standard' CBR engine for testing, but some teams are believed to be running full World Supersport spec engines.

"Our next test will be on 17, 18, 19 of February at Montmelo, when there will be plenty of Moto2 teams present. It will be the last test with our own engine, before we all get the official engine," said Poncharal.

"It will more difficult at Barcelona to judge performance because of the long straights. If we are down 15-20 horsepower on some other guys then we will have a handicap, but I think we took the right decision to use a standard engine during the winter.

"We didn't want to spend time and money on the engine and the last thing we wanted was not to be able to test because the engine was broken. We just wanted an engine to go around so we could focus on the chassis."

Tech 3's Moto2 design will only be used by de Rosa and Takahashi in 2010, while the most popular chassis is the Suter, which is scheduled to supply 12 of the 39 riders on the official entry list. Moriwaki is next up with six riders.

"If we have one slight advantage - compared with some of the very successful chassis manufacturers that are supplying many Moto2 teams - it is that we are only building two chassis, for ourselves," said Poncharal. "So we have the capacity, the way we have built the chassis and because we are the developer, to modify it quickly.

"Maybe at Valencia, for the first official Moto2 test [March 1-3], we will be in the top five, maybe we will be 15th, maybe we will be 20th. If we are 20th then I will be very disappointed, but it is a possibility.

"The important thing is that wherever we are I can guarantee that we will work for the whole year to improve the chassis. I hope that by the end of the year we will have something that is very competitive and hopefully before."

Expanding Tech 3's grand prix activities, and becoming a constructor, at a time of economic difficulty has been a challenging and worrying experience. Poncharal admits he had his doubts about the Moto2 project, but is now convinced they have made the right decision.

"You know, I am very happy now," he said. "I asked myself many times during the winter 'why did I do this?' because honestly it has been a lot of work and a lot of worry. I wanted to have a little time off and I couldn't. It has been costing us our own money, Guy and I together. The little money I've earned doing this, we've spent it all.

"But I believe this class is going to be a success. For sure year one must be a financial loss in Moto2, but you must calculate your investment over three years. Because a lot of what we have spent money on for year one, we will be able to use in years two and three due to the stability in the rules.

"Also if we manage to do okay this year we might supply another team next year. We might also do something in the CEV [Spanish championship] or there might be some other national championship that could allow us to work with some teams and test some riders.

"With the way MotoGP is at the moment we have a lot of free time between races and we were doing nothing. All our technical guys have always said 'We can design. We have the knowledge and we have the ideas, but we can never use them'.

"So I said: 'This is your chance; Moto2 is your mission. Show us what you can do'."

The last time Tech 3 raced in a world championship other than 500cc/MotoGP was in 2000, when the team finished a perfect first and second in the 250cc class with Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano.

That year also marked the second season of Yamaha factory support for Tech 3, which continues to this day in MotoGP. As such, Crash.net concluded by asking Poncharal what Yamaha thinks of his team's new Moto2 adventure.

"Yamaha is a company so you have a lot of different people and different views," replied Poncharal. "Some people are very interested. Particularly the technicians. They are following us and asking us a lot of questions, like 'do you have a problem with this, have you done that'.

"And we ask them a lot of questions in return. Guy is talking to them and they are giving us some information and advice. They know so much - a lot more than us, clearly - and Yamaha has always built a very good chassis.

"Some other people completely ignore the Moto2 and have never said anything and some people have told me 'I don't want to hear about that. This is something different. It is your toy.'

"Then there are others, who are not technicians, who recognise that Moto2 is an interesting programme that might help both us and Yamaha to test some young riders for the future

"I think some people at Yamaha are really happy about that because we know riders are the most important thing in MotoGP.

"You can see this because at the moment we have four top riders in MotoGP: Two of them are team-mates, Rossi and Lorenzo, but the other two, Stoner and Pedrosa, have team-mates who not getting the same results on the same equipment.

"Clearly I think de Rosa and Takahashi could be MotoGP riders, and now they will be - I don't want to say in the Yamaha family - but they will be inside the Yamaha organisation more or less."