It was on July 19 of this year that WCM announced they would join forces with Czech company Blata, to develop a brand new V6 machine for the 2005 MotoGP world championship.
WCM, a multiple 500cc GP winning team while running Yamahas, have built and raced their own four-cylinder machines, without any major sponsor, for the past two seasons – and recognised that they needed manufacturer support to advance back up the grid.
This they have now achieved with Blata, a company only formed in 1989 but already producing 24,000 pocket bikes and scooters per year. Full sized motorcycles are planned and production capacity is scheduled to increase to 100,000 units annually by the end of 2009.
contacted WCM director of racing Peter Clifford to ask how the exciting project, which will result in a V6 machine being on the MotoGP grid for the first time, was progressing:
"The design of the V6 is making great progress and has gone through a number of iterations since the end of the season," he began. "Now that such a huge proportion of the work is done in the CAD program, there is no need to rush into metal before you feel it is close to being right."
Clifford was then asked when he thought the new machine would take to the track for the first time - and if he expected it to be raced from the start of next season.
"Just when it will be tested and then raced we do not know," he said. "The aim is still to race the V6 at the opening GP, but if we have to use the existing 'four' for a few races it will not be the end of the world. Racing the 'six' is the priority though."
James Ellison was named as one of the team's 2005 riders in October, and Clifford confirmed that 250cc veteran Franco Battaini (lower pic) will join the Englishman for the new project.
"I expect our contract with Franco Battaini to be signed this week so he will join James," said Clifford. "That was something we shook hands on at the last race in Valencia and we have just been quietly sorting out the contract with no great rush."
Battaini finished tenth in the 2004 250cc world championship, with a best finish of fourth (twice) on a semi-works Campetella Aprilia.