It's been confirmed with our sources that Triumph and MotoGP rightsholders Dorna have signed an agreement for the British company to be the Moto2 spec engine supplier starting with the 2019 season. Honda have been supplying the engines for the Moto2 class since its inception in 2010, but the Japanese company had told Dorna that it intended to stop its involvement at the conclusion of its three-year extension to the contract that originally ran until 2015. Instead of the 600cc four-cylinders that Honda have been supplying since 2010 though, Triumph will reportedly be providing a version of the 765cc three-cylinder that will be powering the new 2017 Street Triple.
It's no secret that the 600 supersport category—once one of the largest-selling segments of the motorcycle market, spawning an ultra-competitive R&D war among the OEMs—is but a shell of its former sales self. The drop in sales was enough to influence Honda's decision to not put forth the R&D financial resources in order to make the CBR600RR meet the stricter Euro 4 emissions regs, thus forcing its disappearance from the 2017 lineup in Honda Europe's catalog. With no real product to attach the Moto2 racing image to, Honda no longer has any real ROI (return on investment) with the category.
Dorna had been courting other manufacturers to take over Honda's role as Moto2 engine supplier, with the previous front-runner being Italian boutique brand MV Agusta with its 675cc three-cylinder engine powering an extensive middleweight lineup. But the storied Italian marque has been plagued by financial difficulties in recent years, making the partnership an unfeasible scenario.
Interestingly, Triumph has been concentrating its new model efforts for the past five years on the growing classic/retro and adventure-tour markets, and sales of the once-proud Daytona 675 three-cylinder-powered sportbike have sunk to the point that rumors have been rampant of it soon being dropped from the lineup. Triumph factory management have been careful to avoid spending major dollars on any racing effort, and their road racing involvement has literally vanished. So the agreement to become the Moto2 engine supplier has been a surprising development to many in the racing world.
Becoming the Moto2 engine supplier is no easy task. The engines will need to be reliable as a rock, something the Daytona 675 engine hasn't been known for during its racing tenure compared to others, although if the 765cc engine will be used, it is reportedly an all-new design. Meanwhile, the Honda CBR600RR engine proved to be nearly bulletproof, with ExternPro, the Moto2 engine preparation firm since 2013, claiming that there have only been five engine failures in "a million kilometers."