675.cc • Triumph 675 Forum

Tony Scott on the failed Triumph / BSB 'Moto2' series.

Discussion in 'Racing' started by Keith15, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. Keith15


    Thread Starter

    Location: Aberdeen
    Tony Scott posted this on social media yesterday. I thought I'd share it as it gives a very interesting insight into the reasons behind the series' failure to get off the ground.

    "About twenty-five years ago, at a dinner with a friend who was the then deputy
    sports editor for the now debunked News of the World, I asked him why they didn’
    t give more coverage to Motorcycle Racing, and this was his response.
    “The day you give me a British rider standing on the top step of the Moto GP
    podium claiming a World Championship title, I’ll give you the front page, until
    then no one’s interested”. Harsh words, but I suspect the reality.
    I guess a good example of this is the following; I am no football fan, but when
    the moment arrives for the World Cup I like to watch the best of the best play,
    even though I know we are going to get a very cheesy record released swiftly
    followed by a first class kicking from a little-known team, all this whilst
    accepting that most of the great players we know will return to their national
    teams so they can play against us!
    I suspect my mentality may well apply to Motorsport, despite our achievements
    and the talent we have at WSB and BSB, Moto GP is where it’s at, before the
    interest levels in our sport change and the wider public get involved we need a
    very talented individual with some personality to put us back on the map,
    (please give us another Barry Sheene or James Hunt).
    Let’s take Bradley Wiggins as an example, look what one man has done for an
    industry, everywhere you go now, people of all age groups are buying expensive
    push bikes, throwing on the Lycra and taking to the roads in what is undeniably
    a healthy pursuit. One man has changed an industry, it has the potential to be
    that simple. ‘So how do we go about that’ I hear you ask, well start by looking
    at Spain and Italy, they have dominated Moto GP for ten years, they are well
    funded, they have a clear structure for developing riders, they have the ear of
    those that can make a difference, it’s not rocket science, it’s there for all
    to see.
    I’m guessing it was four years ago when I suggested to Stuart Higgs, the
    Director of BSB that it would be a good move to add Moto 2 in to the BSB
    format, after all we already had
    Moto 3; the conversation went one way very quickly, “it’s too expensive”. Now I
    can see why he would arrive at that conclusion because it is, but it doesn’t
    have to be. The expense is primarily down to two reasons, limited production
    runs of parts and chassis by those making bikes for Moto 2, plus the words
    ‘Moto GP’. Each manufacturer only makes a small number of bikes, thus
    development costs are high and that cost must be amortised over the number
    produced, add the words ‘Moto GP’ and that is a perfect storm for a case of
    Emperors cloths.
    So why are Moto 2 Championships not running at National level around the world?
    Well you just have to look at Stuarts response for the answer to that question,
    but of course it doesn’t have to be. More Championships would mean more bikes
    could be built, more production means lower costs, it’s very simple, I guess no
    one had thought of it until BSB and ourselves highlighted it could be done.
    My frustration with the system as it is and the responses I was getting led me
    to thinking I could prove a point. Dave, my Chief Engineer’s face dropped when
    I said, “I have an idea”, even though they didn’t know what was coming this
    time, I know they were thinking, ‘Oh dear, here we go again’.
    I borrowed a little money from a few friends and set about working with a few
    industry professionals I knew to build a ‘Made in Britain’ Moto 2 bike, the big
    difference was I built it with a Triumph engine in mind. When it was complete
    the criticism came thick and fast, “you’re an idiot’, you have built a bike
    that has nowhere to race!”, that was true, but this was a reaction from those
    that simply didn’t understand the ambition.

    I never had a desire to compete in World Championships, it was done to show
    that a competitive bike didn’t need to cost 100k, but more importantly it was
    to give riders in the UK the opportunity to learn how to set up an adjustable
    prototype chassis. The hope was that if they could ever reach the GP paddock,
    they would already have good experience reference of setting up one of these
    bikes, a very valuable lesson in my opinion.
    So, a two-year mission began, constructing the bike from ground zero, chassis,
    yokes, bodywork and then the task of sourcing the right running gear. It would
    be wrong not to mention those that supported me at this point, Mark Taylor,
    Gerry Lisi, the guys at K-Tech and Dymag, not forgetting PFM, they all saw the
    dream and came to help.
    When it was finished I got something of a muted reaction from the industry
    including BSB; I’m pretty sure Stuart didn’t believe I was going to do this
    when he said, “away you go then”. I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed at
    the reaction, although not overly surprised, but I knew something that others
    didn’t, all I needed to do was wait, I put the bike under a cover on the
    mezzanine floor and wait I did.
    Shortly after I began the project, and with the blessing of Triumph’s top brass
    I was getting hints that engines might not be available to me; it didn’t click
    right then but I knew something was up, I just couldn’t work out what. I’d been
    buying engines for years, why suddenly couldn’t I get them now, I asked
    With hindsight, the demise of the series was the writing on the wall, and of
    course it was now obvious that the 675 was coming to an end; the thought was
    further reinforced when I had a meeting with Kawasaki and they informed me they
    weren’t going to be making 600cc bikes anymore. A quick glance at the sales
    figures in Dealer News quickly confirmed that 600cc Sports bikes weren’t
    selling and the manufacturers were going to stop making them.
    Given they make up 50% of the grids for just about any National Championship in
    the world, what on earth were the organisers going to do? Well, hopefully I was
    standing there looking at the solution; I got the feeling that a new era in
    National racing was just over the horizon and we were right there already
    waiting with the product to start it.

    Continued below...
  2. Keith15


    Thread Starter

    Location: Aberdeen
    Shortly after this development I got a phone call from Stuart Higgs with an
    invitation to bring the bike to some of the BSB meetings. We could only go out
    in Friday practice sessions, no racing, but it was a good starting point; we
    needed to understand how the bike stacked up against the current crop of
    Supersport machines and this was an excellent opportunity to benchmark and
    test. Initially we pretty much finished slowest for the first test at
    Snetterton, then improved to 23rd at Thruxton as the bike started to get
    dialled in, but we had an issue with chatter and it’s just one of those issues
    that is difficult to find, more time was needed.

    Later that season we decided to launch the prototype road version of our bike,
    the ‘GP Sport R’, coming in at £75K inc VAT it wasn’t cheap, but then it had
    features that you would have only found in F1, it was a top shelf product. Much
    to my surprise and with the help of Dean Ellison, Stuart Higgs attended the
    launch and gave us the nod to bring the bike to Supersport for 2017; no points,
    no chance of winning the series, evaluation purposes only, but we had one foot
    in the door, all we need to do now was prove the point. For the last 12 months
    I had been listening to the doubters, they had all said there was no chance of
    this happening, but here it was and the surprises just kept coming.

    Around the beginning of 2017 I heard from a source with good provenance that
    Triumph had secured a contract with Dorna to become the supplier of engines to
    Moto 2. I recall leaving work that evening and stopping in the workshops to
    turn off the lights; there she was on the bench, the world’s first Triumph
    powered Moto 2 bike, I could hardly contain my excitement. I went home that
    evening thinking to myself, ‘who would have predicted the end of Supersport
    600s, Triumph becoming the nominated supplier to Dorna and finally, our bike
    going to BSB’. Having built a strong relationship with BSB and Triumph over the
    last eight and eighteen years respectively I was finally in the right place at
    the right time; ‘who’s the idiot now’, I thought.
    Of course, my delight at being able to pitch the bike against the BSB boys was
    quickly tempered when I realised we needed a sponsor, if there is one thing
    that has pissed me off in my career it is that we never had the money to go it
    alone, I’ve always had to get my cap out.

    A man who was to become a good friend, Scott Cooper (he runs an app called the
    Superbike Challenge, check it out), pointed me in the direction of Quattro
    Plant; Scott knew the MD well and had been pushing hard for a meeting, as had
    Jon Hoy from Dymag, that was November 2016, we finally got to meet him in
    February 2017 and a deal was agreed. We had a commitment for two rounds, the
    outcome of which would be reviewed in the case of further sponsorship; deal
    done we pushed on to get some testing in.
    Dean Ellison had been with us all through 2016 and had a reasonable amount of
    time on the bike, Alastair Seeley in comparison had none, so test dates were
    booked and the bikes prepared. In reality we had three test days scheduled
    before the first round of BSB, two at Cadwell, and one at Silverstone; on day
    one the bike took a spill and we had to return to the unit for repair, we then
    drove back through the night to start testing again the following morning.
    Silverstone was something of a disaster as well both from an organisational
    point of view and the weather, all in all we got one day of productive testing
    before we ran out of time.

    We rocked up at the first round feeling nervous and concerned about how our
    presence would be received, as well as how things were going to turn out. So
    much was unknown, plus we had a serious problem with the Triumph ECU causing a
    stutter when the throttle was taken from 20% to 100% open. To add even more
    stress, qualifying was wet, a complete unknown to us, all we could do was to
    dial in some settings we believed would work and then pray. Fortunately for us
    it got off to a flying start, we led the pace for most of the session until
    Farmer came in and changed to a new set of wets, he then went back out with
    little more than three/four laps to go. I noted that Farmer had upped the pace
    by 2 seconds a lap with new tyres and I gave Ali the information on his pit
    board, ‘P2’. As the chequered flag went out the team and I walked away feeling
    chuffed at second place, but weirdly slightly disappointed that we had led for
    the most part and so narrowly missed out on the dream.

    As we walked down pit lane, unbeknown to us, Ali was on a flying lap, the last
    lap of the session, I could still hear the commentary from Fred Clarke;
    suddenly I heard Fred’s voice go up two octaves announcing that Ali had taken
    Pole Position. We all looked at each other, no words were said, everyone was
    trying to digest what had just happened. We smiled but there was no
    celebration, just this sense of relief that no matter what happened now, no one
    could take this moment from us, it was ours for eternity.

    Saturday night was a good night, something to eat and a modest intake of
    alcohol helped us add to the story telling, the team were happy, the rider was
    happy, the sponsors were impressed and the road to success was ahead of us, we
    just need to keep moving forward.

    We were scheduled for two races on Sunday, but, due to an incident we were down
    to one. Buoyant, but still full of angst, I arrived at the circuit on Sunday
    morning to be greeted by my Chief Engineer, “we’ve done some fuel calculations
    from yesterday and we believe the fuel tanks are too small, based on qualifying
    consumption we can’t carry enough fuel to finish eighteen laps”, WTF, I couldn’
    t believe my ears! We talked it through as a team and then with the riders, I
    suggested that they came in regardless of position on lap fifteen, that went
    down like a shit sandwich, but a decision had to be made. I guess it was some
    thirty minutes or so before the race when one of the paddock wranglers came
    around and said “due to time issues the race has been shortened to fifteen
    laps”, I grabbed her and gave her a hug, “you little beauty you”!
    The start of the race didn’t go well, Ali got bullied out to 7th at the first
    corner from pole but was back on the pace by the third corner and had already
    made up two places. From there, as he worked up the line he took some
    extraordinary lines showing just what the bike was capable of, but you could
    see he was having trouble keeping it on a line when exiting the corner, it was
    costing him every time at Redgate and must have been really frustrating.
    Of course, they don’t call him the Wee Wizard for nothing and he rode a most
    brilliant race; for a good percentage he was in the lead, for the rest he was
    in the mix. The race ended with a second place finish. Given everything it was
    the right place for all concerned; Stuart had already taken a good deal of
    flack over our presence after qualifying, for us to have won it would have
    really have put the cat amongst the pigeons.
    Here a link to the race if your interested to watch it.

    From now it was all about trying different things and ironing out all the
    wrinkles; by the time we got to Snetterton we were feeling confident, and we
    were right too, a second place and then our first win over the two weekend
    races set us on route to a very successful season.

    One of the things not understood by many onlookers was our engine
    specification; we had already tried the 765 engine in our bike and dismissed
    it, it was fine for a single engine series but without serious modification it
    was not going to compete with the BSB Supersport bikes that were pulling 16,000
    RPM, and our remit was to remain competitive with the Supersport bikes, for
    that we would need revs and the old engine.

  3. Keith15


    Thread Starter

    Location: Aberdeen
    As we approached Oulton Park we were trying ride by wire. We had developed
    another ECU to link to the new Triumph 765 throttle bodies that we then
    installed on the old 675 engine, with these throttle bodies we could produce a
    lot more mid-range horsepower and we needed more power without the expense of
    tuning; the Snetterton race footage showed that Ali was struggling to overtake
    in a straight line, it was either pass on the brakes or into the corner, now,
    if we could get more punch out of the corner we just might get past them on the
    straight. The Oulton Park race footage showed that it worked, it also gave us
    electronic control over the slipper clutch which we hoped might go some way to
    sorting the chatter problem. The first time we had tried this set up was at a
    test day at Brands where all went well, but then during the first race at
    Oulton, the engine cut going into the chicane, strangely enough it had done it
    a couple of times when we were wheeling the bike out of the awning as well, but
    we simply dismissed it as a low rev range issue and promised ourselves to look
    at the fuelling low down later on as it wouldn’t affect us on track. Once we
    established it was bigger than a low-end fuelling issue we set about finding
    the cause, we had gone through everything and I do mean everything. On the
    Saturday night quite late we sat down as a team in the restaurant and discussed
    it, I had to make the final call and in truth it was a straight forward
    decision, if the problem wasn’t solved by the time we were ready to race then
    we don’t race. It was simply too dangerous, especially because we couldn’t
    predict when it might happen.

    I stayed at the hotel in the morning for a meeting and about mid-morning I got
    a call saying, “we’ve found it!”, “WTF was it?” was my reply; the throttle we
    had used had come off a road bike and was designed to be rolled forward past
    the neutral position, to turn off cruise control; I didn’t even know the 765
    had cruise control! Of course, because there wasn’t any cruise control in our
    ECU it threw a paddy when the throttle rolled past 0%, and for safety, shut
    down, but that only happened on track when you were on the brakes going
    downhill! A major problem solved with a ten-pence screw, again the reason I
    keep my crew!
    For the team and the sponsors it was a near perfect season, we really couldn’t
    have asked for a lot more. Many thanks need to go out to the crew, the riders,
    Ali & Dean, sponsors and especially K-Tech, brilliant people who supported us
    I’m guessing many in the paddock think that while I am thanking people, I am
    going to thank Stuart Higgs, especially given the phone calls I have had from
    friends in the business saying, “I feel for you”, well I am, actually, because
    I genuinely believe he deserves it. He stuck his neck out bringing us to the
    grid, and yes, you can argue that he needed to do something, but I think he
    could have done many things. However, he did, like me, believe in the concept
    and stuck by his guns despite the objections he got from members of the
    Supersport grid and there were a few. I got a lot of support from him in 2017
    that people didn’t see and I guess it can be said, I gave a lot back, a quid
    pro quo is how I see it.

    As we move towards the end of this four-part story I want to recap on what our
    ambition was, because the next part covers how that ambition was derailed
    without explanation, or indeed, without even an apology.
    As I said earlier, I have believed since that early conversation with the
    Sports Editor that his words hold an important key to our sport, indeed for the
    entire motorcycle industry in the UK. To move forward we must ensure we
    continue putting in the right stepping stones and building relationships with
    those such as Dorna, because it is they who will help us on the road to finding
    the next hero in our sport, it will make such a difference. If, or rather, when
    we get that, everyone benefits; there is greater media exposure, the public
    become more interested, sponsorship becomes easier, the younger generation gets
    turned on to the excitement of motorcycling, future sales are more secure and
    finally manufacturers sell more bikes. Everyone one is a winner, which is how
    it should be.
    Our quest to build a Moto 2 bike at a cost that would be cheaper to run than
    the average Supersport bike wasn’t vanity. It was designed to put another rung
    on that ladder to helping develop our future talent, to get them acquainted
    with a prototype chassis and get them ready for MotoGP, not World Superbikes.
    Yes, the upfront cost of our bike was £38K + the tax, probably £10K above a
    Supersport bike with Motec, but you were saving close on £430.00 a weekend on
    tyres and plenty more money once you compared the cost of running a stock
    engine against that of a Supersport, just engine refreshes alone for the senior
    teams was going to be a massive saving, not to mention the tuning parts. For
    that money everything thing you needed was already on the bike, from
    programmable ECU to telemetry, you also got two sealed engines, one for testing
    and one for racing, it was a bargain even if I do say so myself.

    The other purpose was this, there are good and not so good teams in every
    paddock, and if a young rider walks into a GP paddock with no experience, how
    can they judge the experience levels of the teams and their knowledge base if
    they don’t have any relevant experience themselves?
    That’s why initially it was almost irrelevant what engine the bike had in it if
    you were focusing on the above, you could learn the characteristics of an
    engine in a day or two, but learning how to set-up a chassis would take you
    seasons. The worst part is that without this experience the rider is like a
    catatonic rabbit caught up in the bright lights of Moto GP, with no real idea
    if the team really knows what they are doing or not. We’ve seen this scenario
    play out before, the end result often takes the form of blame culture, the
    rider blames the team, the team blames the rider and yet another career gets
    prematurely thrown in the bin.

    So when BSB launched their version of Moto 2 called GP2 in late 2017 is was an
    important moment, it is yet another stepping stone in place for the future of
    our passion and somewhere for the Moto Star (BSB Moto3) guys and gals to
    progress to without ending up on yet another production bike, but I am going to
    confess that I am very uneasy about the way it could shape up without some
    In May 2017 I had discussions with Triumph about purchasing some racing parts
    for the 2013 model 675 engine with the intention of gearing up for the BSB GP2
    series (remember, our reason for going down this engine route), we also
    discussed the supply of engines to keep us going for the next few years while
    we waited for the anticipated release of the 765; the engine architecture is
    the same so the transition would be very simple, when and if Triumph put the M2
    or a stock engine out on general release for the purposes of racing.

    Triumph indicated their agreement to supply, and off the back of that we had a
    provisional offer (based on fulfilment from Triumph) of a contract from MSVR to
    become the engine supplier to the series; everyone was happy. With those things
    in place we also had three heavyweight investors, after all how else were we
    going to afford two hundred engines and the means to begin production of the
    bikes, whilst also being able to afford the parts needed to offer a full
    paddock support service to everyone in the series.
    Suddenly from nowhere they pulled their offer, except for the bit where they
    cancelled our contract for race parts supply, they kept that one in. When they
    made this decision as you would expect our world crumbled, it was like watching
    a set of dominos toppling over one after the other, no engine contract, no bike
    sales, no investors, no parts business and no more racing. Not only had their
    decision cut the lifeline to the new revenue stream we had been working on for
    four years, it left the new GP2 Championship launched by BSB without clear
    direction. We had come so far, been so successful, it just seemed such a waste.

  4. Keith15


    Thread Starter

    Location: Aberdeen
    Now we can of course sit and speculate about why they changed their mind, but
    that won’t change things, the fact remain that the BSB series GP2 has had to
    revert to ex-World Championship Moto 2 bikes. I’m guessing that people are
    paying solid money for a good second-hand Moto 2 bike, and I also expect spares
    will both be hard to come by and expensive. We have gone from the very real
    possibility of a cost-controlled series closely aligned to the future of Moto 2
    to a cheque book series based on soon to be redundant machines, but given the
    situation there was little alternative for the race organisers and teams. My
    fear is that by the end of this season people will realise the real cost and
    that they are racing down a technical dead end, if so then the number of
    participants will decline rather than increase for 2019. The smaller UK
    companies are not going to bother building new bikes (why would they when they
    don’t know where things are going, so the opportunity for the revival of this
    little cottage industry has gone), so we have no option other than to wait, and
    I don’t think that is a coincidence. Given why we started this and why Stuart
    put it out there, this is not a good place to be.
    So, what does the future look like, well I’m speculating, but here it is

    I have a feeling that the CEV Moto 2 Championship in Spain will be the
    template, rolled out and tagged on the WSB calendar for a world tour, and those
    with qualifying Moto 2 bikes will be invited to participate as wild card riders
    as it reaches their home town, but I don’t think this will happen until at
    least 2020 once Moto 2 has a season under its belt with the new engines, and of
    course controlled as feeder series to Moto 2 by Dorna , with Triumph supplying
    Now in my view that format is no bad thing, but to work there will need to be
    greater standardisation to get the cost down (otherwise it is Moto 2 costs
    without the budgets!) and I wonder who’s going to make that happen, in other
    words have we lost control?

    If they had supplied the 675 engines it would have taken us through the two-
    year transition period nicely while the 765 engine establishes itself at Moto 2
    (or not as the case maybe), it would have also allowed us to of encouraged
    small British manufacturers to start building cost effective bikes for the
    future. I like to think our bike would have set the affordable price standard
    for the Championship and the series would have been within the reach of a far
    greater audience than maybe it is now, not just here but eventually all over
    the world. As it is we wait, we wait to see who does what and when.

    For me, BSB is the strongest domestic series, others will follow its lead, and
    if Triumph had followed through as we originally agreed, then we could have got
    the ball rolling while we waited to see what the big boys did, hopefully at
    some point in the future, joined them, or if that didn’t work out, we would do
    our own thing because we had the means to do so, either way it would have been
    nice to see an iconic British Company supporting a British Championship,
    British cottage industries and British riders, instead……… well I leave you to
    decide that one, me, I have my own plans and this time they don’t involve
    anyone else.

    What did I learn from all this........nothing, this time others need to learn
    from this."
    • Thanks Thanks x 4
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Stu675


    Location: Gu1
    Thanks for posting. A good read.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Yeah, a good read but I would like to see the response, yes there is an element of waste in doing what they have done but I don’t think putting all the busy to T3 for making chassis and therefore excluding ftr/kalex etc from the series also promotes competition. I think as long as they run 2 years with the Honda engines and then in the 2nd year pick up a lot of spares from Moto2 and then switch to triples in 2020 or even 2021 I’m sure it will be fine. I for one want to see young lads and lasses riding proper Moto2 bikes around places like Oulton and cadwell, will be awesome
  7. Personally I don’t think that you will ever see it as it costs too much. Guys can barely afford to race BSB Superstock 600 let alone full Moto 2 bikes.

    This is a massively missed opportunity for the Us to finally prepare British riders for the step into the Moto Gp paddock.
  8. If it’s the case that people can’t afford supersport then I would say the conversation is the wrong one completely. In which case, superstock spec should be the supersport and perhaps superbikes should be capped. We have all heard the stories of £30k swingarms on r1’s and most are using 10k sets of forks and have a lorry full of them.

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