This weekend at Motegi, the Moriwaki Racing team will make their second MotoGP appearance of the season, with Tamaki Serizawa riding the fantastically named 'Morwaki Dream Fighter'.

In the run-up to the event, Crash.net spoke to the team about the progress of their ambitious MD211VF project - which, as the name implies, sees a Honda RC211V engine powering a Moriwaki designed chassis.

Moriwaki Engineering Ltd (and its associated race team) was established in 1973 near Suzuka, shortly after Mamoru Moriwaki - then riding for the Yoshimura Racing team - married 'pop' Yoshimura's eldest daughter, Namiko.

Around 25 employees work for the company, with its main business based around after market exhaust systems - plus other special engine and chassis performance parts - with separate versions for street and racetrack use.

The team's racing achievements include finishing second in the 1978 Suzuka 8 Hours with Graeme Crosby and Tony Hatton on a Kawasaki Z1, while other famous names to have ridden for Moriwaki include: Wayne Gardner, Hikaru Miyagi, Shunnji Yatsushiro, Peter Goddard, Anthony West and Brock Parkes.

The company remains very much a friendly family business, with Mamoru both president of Moriwaki Engineering and team director for Moriwaki Racing, while wife Namiko and their daughter, Midori, also have key roles.

So what made Moriwaki decide to enter the most competitive racing championship on the planet - and take on the likes of motorcycling giants Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ducati? The answer, it seems, was a mixture of both competitive instinct and opportunity presented by the new four-stroke rules.

"Mamoru is a four-stroke engine and chassis balance specialist, so he wanted to challenge his engineering ability in the world's premier-championship because the MotoGP class is new for every factory - so it is a chance for him to try and win," Midori Moriwaki told Crash.net. "That is why we called our bike the MD211VF (Moriwaki Dream 211V Fighter) - Mamoru's dream is to beat a factory team."

And so they set about designing a motorcycle that would fit a 2002 spec RCV engine leased directly from Honda - and the rate of development since then has been incredible, putting some factory teams to shame.

"(It took) about one week to design and two weeks to build the first version of the motorcycle," Midori explained. "Usually we make a new frame after each test, so the bike now has its fifth frame and fourth swingarm. That is the bike we will use at the Motegi GP.

"The main changes have been made to the frame geometry for better balance. I can't tell you about the improvement in lap time because we haven't tried hard to make a good lap time yet."

Such efforts give the team good reason to be optimistic this weekend, especially as Serizawa qualified an earlier version of the bike 16th (out of 25) at Suzuka in April. The team also have considerable data after a promising recent test at the Pacific GP venue.

Looking beyond this weekend, the team have stated they'd like a full time MotoGP entry in the future - although whether this will be possible is yet to be confirmed.

"We have not decided if we'll enter the full 2004 MotoGP season," said Midori. "If we do, we'll have a one rider team. Even if we cannot enter the full series, we would like some wild-card entries."

One rumour circulating is that Moriwaki Racing could join forces with Peter Clifford's WCM team, but this was ruled unlikely despite the close links between the two.

"No I do not think so," stated Midori of such a future partnership. "Of course WCM and Moriwaki have a strong, long time, friendship so we wish to collaborate with them, but it seems we are looking at different directions for the 2004 season. Sure, if we can work together sometime in the future it would be great, but this is not so easy."

Motegi first qualifying takes place this Friday.

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