Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 team, which finished first and second in the 2000 250cc World Championship with Olivier Jacque and Shinya Nakano, will return to the support class next season for the first year of the new Moto2 class.

Crash.net spoke to Poncharal about his Moto2 project on Wednesday, where he explained in detail why the team has chosen to use a conventional chassis - rather than a radical 'experimental' design - and gave a timeline for its development and track debut.

Poncharal also revealed that fellow Frenchman Jules Cluzel is hot favourite for one of the two seats, and names the riders - including Cal Crutchlow - on his list of potential candidates for the other.

In part two of the interview, Poncharal talks about his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP team - including the future of riders Colin Edwards and James Toseland - and discusses the implications of engine leasing in the premier class...

How is the Moto2 project progressing?

Herve Poncharal:
Although we are fully involved with the MotoGP racing season at the moment, in-between the races the maintenance is done by Yamaha and we don't have any more tests.

So basically in-between races a lot of MotoGP teams are - I don't want to say on holiday - but they are 'off'. We are using this time, from Tuesday morning after a race until Monday prior to the next race to work on Moto2. The whole staff is 100 percent working on the Moto2 project. All of us.

How far have you got with the chassis design?

Herve Poncharal:
The chassis dimensions are fixed. The drawings were all done and finalised at the end of July and I think we will physically have the rolling chassis by the end of September.

So we will have the chassis with a CBR engine in it plus suspension, wheels and brakes. We have started to work on the fairing, seat, fuel tank etc. but we also have a lot of MotoGP races next month.

I think, realistically with the MotoGP racing program, it will be difficult for us to test the Moto2 before November. But I think that will be the case for everybody, except the people who are working only on Moto2 like Moriwaki.

But even Suter - I was talking to him in Misano last weekend - and the Moto2 he presented at Misano was just a mock-up. And there is nothing wrong with that. I don't think anything is going to be available before, I think he said, around mid-December.

Do you know when you will receive the official Moto2 engine, made by Honda?

Herve Poncharal:
We will get the official Moto2 engine for the first test of next year, in early February in Spain. This is when everybody will get the official engine, but that doesn't mean we will not test before. I think we will test quite a lot before with a CBR kit engine, which is more than enough and will be very close to the official Moto2 engine.

Your chassis, is it inspired by the aluminium twin-spar chassis used on the Yamaha MotoGP bike?

Herve Poncharal:
It's not going to be inspired because it will be our own chassis. But yes, it will be quite close to what we are seeing on the MotoGP bike.

Did you think about experimenting with different chassis materials, which if successful might then be used in the Yamaha MotoGP project - Ducati already has a carbon-fibre frame and swingarm...

Herve Poncharal:
You know, we have met a lot of people, who have a lot of interest in this new Moto2 class. We have met a lot of people who have good, innovative ideas. Some big variance.

There are a lot of them coming from car racing, who want to make new geometry, new suspension, new everything.

I have been in motorcycle racing for quite a while. I saw the Elf project. I've seen a lot of things, but at the end of the day what is working is something that is very conventional.

We know that Moto2 will not attract huge sponsorship at the moment due to the economic situation, and we have made that class to be affordable. Which means cheaper than 250 is now and with a main purpose as an educational class for young riders, the best of whom can then jump up to MotoGP.

With those two things in mind, at Tech 3 we want to be as competitive as possible in Moto2 for the smallest amount of money.

I think a chassis which is very conventional - like the Japanese factory MotoGP bikes - is what works the best at the moment.

Look at BMW, they have the Telelever front suspension on some road bikes and everybody says 'it's better than the normal conventional front suspension system, blah, blah, blah'.

But BMW are now officially involved in Superbike and what front suspension do they use? They use conventional suspension. If Telelever is that much better then why don't they use it? Especially as it is their trademark and it would be really good, commercially speaking.

So why don't they use it? I guess it is because they did some tests between the two types and, I guess, conventional was better.

Yamaha also did some tests in the past, with a bike called the GTS.

You know, I have seen so many projects from small companies, especially during the spring and summer of this year, and I met some very clever and interesting people.

But, as I told them: 'Prove your idea on track first'.

Because I don't have a big budget and I need to be racing in Moto2 with something that I know is capable of results.

I tell them 'if you have a huge company behind you that believes in your idea, wants to experiment and is ready to spend enough to go racing without sponsors for the next three years, then let's do it together'.

'But if you are asking me to take the risk just to prove your idea is right. I'm not into that. Because what is the point for me?'

I am not a technician. I am not an engineer. I am just a normal guy who has some experience in racing and who has seen quite a lot of projects. The bikes in front in MotoGP, in 250 and in 125 are still very, very conventional.

I cannot believe that all of the factory teams - with their R&D departments, all their engineers, and all the experience and data they have from racing and production - have never tried alternative designs.

I know for a fact that Yamaha, also Honda, are experimenting with a lot of things in Japan in their racing department and in their R&D departments for production. Because they are open to change, if it works.

So my Moto2 bike will be very conventional - like the Moriwaki and the Suter are. Firstly because I cannot afford to experiment but mainly because I think this is still the most efficient design on track.

Will your Moto2 bike be just for yourself or will you also lease it to other teams as well?

Herve Poncharal:
The safest and easiest option for me would have been to say 'okay I'm going to do Moto2 because I like the idea and I want a Junior team etc'. Then I could have just sent my staff on holiday during the races and bought a chassis from Suter, Moriwaki or whoever.

But a lot of MotoGP engineers and mechanics say 'MotoGP is good, but the problem is we cannot touch anything. We cannot show our knowhow and give our input'. Some of them are really frustrated by this. I have been hearing that for years.

So many guys in MotoGP say being a 250 crew chief or mechanic is more exciting, because you can work on the engine and do some modification.

If you get the Moto2 engine from the championship, get the suspension from a suspension company, and then a chassis from somebody else - then you end up in the same situation as in MotoGP now.

That would have been easiest for me, cheaper for sure in year one, and less risk. Because Moriwaki is already I think on its ninth evolution, so they told me in Indy, and the final evolution will be the tenth.

So I am looking for trouble in a way!

But this is all about racing. I don't know if there will be some other independent MotoGP teams that will build their own chassis. It is more work, more worry and more question marks - but everybody is excited about building our own chassis and this is what I want!

So, to answer your question, in year one I want to be in a position where I can supply my two riders. And of course if we can show during the season that our bike is competitive and if somebody has an interest to work with us for 2011 I will be more than happy.

But I don't want to set too high a target and be too greedy at the moment. In 2010 I think it will be enough work to get two riders on the grid with a competitive machine and enough spare parts. I am concentrating on this and that is my programme at the moment.

However, I really hope that in the future we can have a commercial relationship with people that want to go racing with our machine and benefit from our technology and knowhow.

Which riders do you have in mind at this stage?

Herve Poncharal:
This is also linked to sponsorship and we are talking to various sponsors at the moment. It is not easy but we are confident of attracting sponsorship. One of them is Monster, who said they have a big interest, because this class is young and is perfectly matching the way they want to communicate.

I think they will have a big meeting in the middle of September and I am waiting. If Monster is part of the deal that will be very good and will mean that the bikes will look similar to the MotoGP bikes. Then together we will select the riders.

I am also preparing another plan in case that doesn't work and I have made some, not commitments, but I am quite far in discussions with Jules Cluzel [best 250cc result of second at Qatar this season, with Matteoni Aprilia].

I think he is good. He is a nice guy. He never really got a proper competitive bike and environment. OK he is French, but I am not so nationalistic, although it helps because I have known him quite well for a long time. I would like to give him a chance, so there is a good chance Jules will be part of the project.

The second rider is absolutely open. There are quite a lot of good young English riders on the grid at the moment...

Within the grand prix paddock and outside?

Herve Poncharal:
I don't have anything to hide. I think everybody saw Cal Crutchlow visit the MotoGP paddock in Brno.

I think he still doesn't know 100 percent first if he wants to step to Superbike, because he has a contract. He has an option to move to Superbike. Then if he decides to come to Moto2, he is talking and quite advanced with Gresini. But he is a name that is interesting to us.

Of course I also know Bradley Smith might have an interest. I know Scott Redding has an interest because he has talked to us. So there are quite a few British riders from the grand prix paddock and other paddocks that could be riding our bike.

But at the moment it is only speculation, because I've also been talking to Espargaro and Pasini as well.

The MotoGP grid is getting clearer, but the Moto2 grid is still very open. All of these names are possible.



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