The factory prototype, World Endurance Championship
2001 MV Agusta 952cc F4 Production Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. 952R2
Since its revival in the late 1990s under the stewardship of the Castiglioni brothers, owners of the Cagiva Group, the legendary MV Agusta brand has seen its range expand from a single model the Massimo Tamburini-designed 750cc F4 superbike to include the 1,000cc F4, various Brutale 'nakeds' and the three-cylinder F3. The first step along MV's road to greater diversification was taken only a few years after the 1998 launch of the original F4, which had been designed as a '750' to meet the then current regulations of the World Superbike Championship. MV had already produced an experimental, 898cc version of the F4 engine (in 1996) and with the focus of the worldwide sports bike market shifting to the 1,000cc class, the motore grosso (big engine) project was revived in 2001.
Prior to that, in 2000, discussions had commenced between the Belgian MV enthusiast, racer and team owner, Steven Casaer, and the Italian factory with a view to entering an MV Agusta in the 2001 World Endurance Championship. It would prove to be an ideal partnership: Casaer's Maxim Experience team would receive a measure of factory backing while MV got the opportunity to test the motore grosso under the most arduous conditions imaginable. Quoted in Sport Rider magazine, MV's head of engine development, Andrea Goggi said: 'This was a very good idea for us, in order to test various solutions for the 1,000cc bike in extreme conditions. The two years we raced with (Casaer), in 2001 and 2002, were the most important period in developing the Mille, especially when James Ellison was riding with him, who is an incredible rider with such good feedback. Both he and Steven did a really good job for us.'
Fortunately, the original F4 engine had been designed with a larger cylinder bore in mind and was sufficiently robust for the major castings to be retained when the capacity was stretched by a further 250cc. Enlargement progressed in stages, the first 898cc unit combining the 750's 73mm bore with a 52.5mm stroke (up from 43.8mm) while the next iteration of 952cc upped the bore to 76mm. This latter dimension was combined with a 55mm stroke for the 998c engine, which first appeared in 2001.
Offered for sale by its owner, Steven Casaer, the machine offered here has the 952cc engine and in its first season of racing in 2001 achieved a best finish of 10th at the Brands Hatch round of the World Endurance Championship, ridden by Casaer and Danny Scheers. The race was won by the Suzuki GSX-R1000 of Lavieille/Morrison/Brian while the Casaer/Scheers MV was the first Open Class (prototype) machine home and the 4th non-Suzuki finisher. Competing in the Open Class, the MV could not score points in either the Championship or Cup competitions. The same situation obtained in 2002.
This MV prototype's 2001 competition record is as follows:
Le Mans 24 Hours (898cc engine) Ellison/Casaer/Scheers: finished but not classified
Brands Hatch (898cc engine) Casaer/Scheers: 10th overall, 1st in class
Brno 6 hours (898cc engine) Casaer/Scheers: 20th overall after technical problems
Nürburgring (998cc engine) Casaer/Daemen: 1st in class
Spa Francorchamps 24 Hours (998cc engine) Casaer/Scheers/Cornwell: DNF caused by a broken radiator and overheating
Oschersleben 24 Hours (998cc engine) Ellison/Casaer/Scheers: DNF
Bol d'Or 24 Hours (998cc engine) Ellison/Casaer/Scheers: DNF
In 2002 all races were contested using the same 952cc engine that is still in the machine today:
Le Mans 24 Hours (Casaer/Pister/Schildermans): 32nd
Spa Francorchamps 24 Hours (Casaer/Pister/Schildermans): 7th
Oschersleben 24 Hours (Casaer/Pister/Schildermans): 5th
Bol d'Or 24 Hours (Casaer/Pister/Schildermans): DNF after crash
MV's only 952cc prototype, '952R2' comes with castings from all the other 952cc engines built for the project. Also included in the sale is a substantial quantity of email printouts and copies of faxes from Claudio Castiglioni and Andrea Goggi together with other documents, technical drawings and dynamometer printouts charting the project's progression and the development of MV's first motore grosso (inspection recommended). There are also copies of magazine articles and various photographs.
The demands of commercial secrecy usually dictate that works prototypes are either crushed or consigned to the factory museum when their useful life has ended, many never to be seen again. We can be thankful that its 'semi-works' status meant that '952R' remained in private ownership and can now be offered for sale for the first time. It constitutes a significant milestone in the history of MV Agusta and is worthy of a place in any important private collection.