The FP1 is 16 years old…


The Petronas FP1 saga is a de­li­cious mys­tery tale that cur­rently doesn’t have an end­ing… Back in 2001 Sauber Petronas wanted to go Mo­togp rac­ing. Re­al­is­ing that the four-stroke era was about to be­gin, they de­signed a three­cylin­der four-stroke mo­tor that was even tested in Malaysia by CMM’S very own Niall Macken­zie. Then things ‘changed’. In­stead, the mo­tor would be housed in a ho­molo­gated road-bike chas­sis and be raced in World Su­per­bikes as part of ‘Foggy Petronas Rac­ing’ headed up by none other than Carl Fog­a­rty him­self. With this be­ing a new ven­ture, a new bike, a big backer in the form of Petronas it was good news for WSB, es­pe­cially as Mo­togp was go­ing four-stroke and man­u­fac­tur­ers like Honda and Kawasaki were leav­ing the pro­duc­tion-based se­ries. Sadly, the change of rules from 900cc triples to 1000cc triples in 2003 didn’t help (the FP1 was an 899cc triple) so out on track it had a power dis­ad­van­tage. The bike raced dur­ing the 2003-2006 sea­sons with best fin­ishes of three podi­ums and two pole po­si­tions, thanks to rid­ers such as Chris Walker, Troy Corser, James Hay­don, Garry Mccoy and Craig Jones. The re­sults could be said to be a poor re­turn on the al­leged £30 mil­lion in­vest­ment into the team, which – one former FP1 racer said: “Should have been spent on the bike, not the hos­pi­tal­ity unit…” Of course, to ac­tu­ally go rac­ing they had to make road bikes: 150 to be ex­act and it’s here the story goes a bit strange… The bikes were to be real ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cials – like a ‘Sports Pro­duc­tion’ ver­sion of a Jap 750 sport­ster, say an RC30 or OW-01 – but it seems even they didn’t turn up. These were sup­posed to cost more than £20,000 with more aus­tere ver­sions be­ing made at a later date. The race bikes were to be built by Suter, the famed Moto2/two-stroke replica com­pany from Switzer­land, headed up by former racer Eskil Suter, while the road bikes were to be built by an­other com­pany in Es­sex. Furtive, half-hearted road-tests of the bikes were made in the main mo­tor­cy­cling news­pa­per of the time, but the bikes them­selves were as scarce as hen’s teeth. In re­cent years it seems that around 130 road bikes were locked in a ware­house fol­low­ing con­fu­sion as to whether du­ties on the bikes had been paid. Ei­ther way it’s a sad end to the tale of the FP1: the race replica ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial that wasn’t. cmm

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