Valentino Rossi hasn’t raced a Moto2 bike, but he has competed on a wider variety of grand prix machinery than probably any other rider in history.
The Doctor’s CV includes success on 125, 250 and 500cc two-strokes, followed by the 990, 800 and 1000cc MotoGP four-strokes. Rossi’s also raced for Aprilia, Honda, Yamaha and Ducati, used Dunlop, Michelin and Bridgestone tyres, plus open and spec electronics.
So what does he make of the new 765cc Triumph engines in Moto2?
The class didn’t even exist when Rossi was climbing the racing ladder, replacing the 250cc class in 2010 and initially running 600cc Honda engines until Triumph’s arrival – alongside enhance electronics – for the start of this season.
“I remember at the beginning of the Moto2 era, everybody was very, very scared and very angry because it is a road bike [engine],” Rossi said. “It is not good to prepare for MotoGP.”
But the #46 is among those to have been won over since.
“250 was fantastic and everything, but in some years I think that they did a very good job [with Moto2],” he said.
“The races are always funny to watch and especially with the last step with the Triumph engine and also with more electronics, I think that is a very good bike to prepare for MotoGP because it’s heavy, because you can work a little bit on engine brake and everything.
“It looks like all the riders are happy because the Triumph engine has more torque from the bottom. Is a bit bigger, a bit faster. For me, it is a very good level.”
The opening three races of the Triumph era have been won by an average of 1.3s with some 600cc lap records already broken.
But it is the roughly 10km/h increase in top speed that has caught the eye of Honda’s reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez.
“It was better with Honda!” smiled Marquez, who like Rossi has a younger brother racing in the intermediate class. “Apart from the joke, I speak with my brother and some Moto2 riders and they say that [the Triumph] is more like a racing engine.
“Before it was more like a street engine on the race track, but now it’s more for racing and they can play a little bit with the electronics and it’s more powerful. We see that they are around 300km/h at the end of the straight. I think it will be better because it’s closer to MotoGP bike.”
Cal Crutchlow added: “Obviously I ride for Honda as well so I have to say the same as Marc, but I am very proud because they [Triumph] are British. The Brits are coming! We’re back!
“The good thing is if the British riders have a shit race, at least the engine is going to win. So there’s going to be a British winner!
“Obviously, as they said, I think also it’s better with the electronics. They have a little bit of room to play. It makes the jump to MotoGP easier for sure because then they start to understand.
“But a lot of them have already ridden big bikes before and they say they’re fun to ride.”
Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons Kalex) took victory in the opening pair of Moto2 events, with ex-MotoGP rider Thomas Luthi (Intact GP Kalex) winning in COTA.
Speed Up is the only chassis manufacturer other than Kalex to have claimed a podium finish so far.