Peter Clifford's former Red Bull Yamaha WCM team will be reborn next season when Harris Performance Products and his World Championship Motorsport [WCM] outfit combine to build
a new Grand Prix racer to challenge the factory machines.
The task facing them is considerable: MotoGP 2003 will feature the most impressive line up of machinery and riders ever assembled on the starting grid - Honda, Ducati, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha and Aprilia are all represented for the first time by full factory backed teams.
However, WCM and Harris feel it is not impossible to build an alternative themselves, and hope to follow in the footsteps of the equally independent Proton KR team that were a thorn in the sides of the factories in 2002.
The Hertford based Harris company built Yamahas from 1992 when the Japanese marque made their YZR500 engine available. In 1996, '97 and '98 they also ran the official factory World Superbike Team. Harris were chosen by Sauber Petronas Engineering as the chassis partner for their still born MotoGP project and will bring 25 years of rolling chassis experience to the new project.
On the other hand, WCM have extensive Grand Prix winning experience, having campaigned the factory YZR500 Yamahas from 1997 to 200 and will build the bikes powerplant as well as run the race team.
As a starting point for the engine, WCM will employ much modified Yamaha R1 components. More than anything this is necessary to fit in with the time constraints. The engine cases and cylinder head will be WCM designed items in keeping with the FIM regulations for MotoGP.
In charge of the WCM engine project is Dave Hagen. The West Sussex based engineer is one of the most respected names in motorcycle four stroke racing and has plotted a clear development path. Right from the start the pistons, valves, cams etc will be purpose built items but by taking this route there is little doubt that power plants can be made ready for testing along with the chassis in February.
From the start of testing 180bhp will be available increasing to 200 bhp or beyond.
The team state that the development of the engine is open ended and could eventually see a new unit designed from the ground up. On the other hand there is also the strong possibility that the partnership with Harris may continue into 2004 using engines from one of the major manufacturers and raced by them in MotoGP.
This had been WCM's orginal plan for 2002: A Moriwaki chassis with a Honda RCV engine. However, title sponsor Red Bull's departure to 125s with KTM and the high cost of the HRC engine ruled that out.