By Matt Zollo
While the imminent CRT sub-category of MotoGP is splitting opinion, it is worth remembering that feelings toward a similar rulebook revolution, Moto2, were equally divided ahead of its first season.
Moto2 was created for 2010 to replace the increasingly elite 250cc World Championship, with the thoroughbred racers of the two-stroke class giving way to 600cc four-strokes, all powered by production-based (Honda) engines housed within prototype chassis designs.
Two years on and Moto2 has more than justified its existence; it has often been the most eagerly anticipated race of a motorcycle grand prix weekend. In addition, initial concerns over Moto2's lack of pace are slowly being put to bed thanks to the development and refinement of the hybrid production/prototype recipe and control Dunlop tyres.
But the main vindication of the introduction of the category is the quality and closeness of the racing. Over the course of the final 250cc season, which was hardly a dull one, the average gap from 1st to 3rd was 8.667s. For Moto2's first season, that figure was 4.452s, and 2011's was only slightly higher, at 4.997s.
Heading into a 250cc race only a handful of riders stood a good chance of a podium appearance. In fact, eleven 250cc riders stepped on the podium in 2009, but only seven did so more than once.
Now, however, you'd be hard pushed to rule out almost half the Moto2 grid from bagging a surprise result, with 17 riders tasting champagne in 2010 and 16 in 2011, with ten doing so more than once during both seasons.
And it's not just the variety of top riders that has improved with the move away from the Aprilia lock-down in 250. In 2010 eight of the 14 different chassis makes on that year's Moto2 entry list scored a podium; in 2011, all of the seven makes (MZ ran FTRs for most of the year) that entered achieved a podium.
Development attrition is inevitable, but despite that there are still seven makes so far confirmed for Moto2's third season in 2012.
All important grid numbers were a success right from the start, with an oversubscription for the first season and only one off the maximum of 40 for 2011. Compare that with 28 entries for World Supersport's 2011 season and 23 for the 2009 250cc season and it's easy to appreciate just how successful Moto2 has been from a commercial perspective.