With the 2022 AFT season fast approaching, the powers that be have made some changes to the rulebook with many of them changing in the hopes of possibly making the field of bikes in the SuperTwins class a little more even. With the Indian FTR750 enjoying total dominance in the class for the past several seasons, this isn’t the first time that AFT has attempted to slow the Indian down a bit while allowing the other brands to catch up. Essentially punishing the FTR750 for being too good instead of forcing the other brands to improve, attempts by AFT over the past couple of years to even the playing field have been unsuccessful at best and comparable to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as the band continued to play. While their attempts in the past have had virtually zero effect in helping the other brands close the gap, the rules imposed by AFT for this coming season will certainly have the engineers at Indian burning the midnight oil so they can keep their competitive edge.
While the new rule changes meant to slow the FTR750 down don’t specifically mention the Indian brand, they might as well as many of them refer to ‘race only engine’ applications (aka Indian). While the production or street based motors are allowed to breathe a little easier (literally), Indian employees are no doubt pulling their hair out as they try to produce maximum power and power delivery with the handicaps that have been placed on their machines. For 2022 the FTR750 will be forced to run intake restrictors although the size has been adjusted slightly from the original number proposed by AFT. After originally wishing for 32 mm restrictor plates, AFT has now settled for 34 mm which will still produce a drastic change in flow for the FTR. Gary Gray, VP of Racing for Indian Motorcycles, figures these restrictor plates will result in 25 percent less flow and a significant drop in horsepower. While not as drastic as the 36 percent drop in flow if they were forced to use the 32 mm restrictors, Gray knows that Indian has some work ahead of them if they wish to stay at the top of the class. “The original proposal by AFT would have seen our horsepower down by about 22 percent. We would have basically put up the same numbers on the Dyno as a highly tuned Single. The numbers aren’t quite as bad with the 34 mm plate but we still have our work cut out for us. We should be in the low 80s for horsepower right now but we are getting down to work. We were hoping to test in early January but basically the whole top end of our engine needs to be redesigned as everything is based on flow rate. We have a budget like everybody else and this is going to be costly so another aspect of our program such as marketing may suffer a bit.”
Along with the intake restrictors the Indians will also now find themselves limited to 11,500 rpm. With their rpm capped, Indian engineers will no doubt find themselves playing around with different camshafts as they search for one that provides optimum power delivery. The FTR has also seen the maximum weight for their rear wheel lowered once again which will of course hinder the delivery of power to the track surface.
As AFT tries to make the field more competitive, they do so with the plan to get rid of the Production Twins class for 2023 and run just one unified Twins class. To help promote this move, series title sponsor Mission Foods has come up with the Mission Production Twins Challenge Row for the 2022 season. In a nutshell this new program from Mission Foods will see the top four finishers from the Production Twins class at each event invited to take part in the SuperTwins final that day as well. As well as being a good measuring stick for both riders and machines as they look a year into the future, there will also be some decent money on the line in the way of a year end points fund. A virtual goldmine for the series since joining last year, Mission Foods has promised $26,000 to be split between the top three finishers for the season in the Mission Production Twins Challenge Row promotion with the one hitch that riders must participate in every event they were eligible for. While the plan is to schedule the Singles race in between both Twins finals, there is no doubt that both riders and machines will be put to the test in running two main events on the same night. Then there will be the question if you are trying to get some of that year end money offered by Mission but don’t really feel up to doing two races that evening. If you are nursing a small injury or maybe just don’t feel well are you really going to want to line up in the SuperTwins event after completing your Production Twins race? I guess thinking of your share of $26,000 may make up your mind for you. Maybe the AFT series will mimic Nascar a little more and we will see riders taking the green only to pull off after a lap or two with a ‘vibration’.
Another change for 2022 will see production-based engine displacement upped from 800 to 900 cc, perhaps opening the door for KTM as well as a possible enforcement of the sound rule although the decibel rule has never left the rulebook but has been overlooked for years.
AFT has their fingers crossed that we will see numerous brands fighting for the top step on the podium in the SuperTwins class. With just over 70 days until the season opener in Florida we won’t have long to wait to see if their wish will come true.