Aus­trian firm’s mas­ter­plan to shake up the pad­dock SEA­SON PRE­VIEW Com­po­nents No sur­prises here, as KTM choose to go with neigh­bours Akrapovic for the ex­haust sys­tem, and WP (which is wholly owned by KTM) for the RC16’S sus­pen­sion Drivetrain Frame Stay

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Motogp Preview - By Si­mon Patterson MCN MO­TOGP REPORTER

With the 2016 Mo­togp sea­son just get­ting un­der­way, it may seem pre­sump­tive to be look­ing for­wards to 2017. But with the emer­gence of KTM’S new RC16, it may well be that the Aus­trian man­u­fac­turer is on track to up­set Mo­togp’s es­tab­lished or­der when it de­buts in a year’s time.

KTM have a track record of com­mit­ting whole­heart­edly to their rac­ing pro­grammes – as wit­nessed by their mo­tocross and en­duro, 250GP, Moto3 and Dakar suc­cesses – so they have al­ready piqued the in­ter­est of the Mo­togp pad­dock.

And with boss Stefan Pierer mak­ing it quite ob­vi­ous that he will set­tle for noth­ing less than top ten fin­ishes in the de­but year, it’s clear that KTM’S trade­mark drive for ex­cel­lence has al­ready been adopted by the Mo­togp pro­ject.

Pierer has also con­firmed that the team have a clear tar­get in mind for their de­but sea­son – to repli­cate then over­take the suc­cess en­joyed in 2015 by Suzuki on their re­turn to the class.

Po­ten­tially work­ing on a sim­i­lar bud­get to the Ha­ma­matsu man­u­fac­turer – and sig­nif­i­cantly less than that of Honda or Yamaha – Suzuki present a clear hare to chase af­ter an im­pres­sive re­turn with Mav­er­ick Vi­nales and Aleix Es­par­garo saw the Span­ish duo take a pole po­si­tion and a con­sis­tent string of top ten re­sults on their way to 11th and 12th in the ti­tle.

KTM also seem to have a strong test­ing plan in place, hir­ing not only long-term testers and for­mer rac­ers Alex Hof­mann and Mika Kal­lio but also for­mer world cham­pion Thomas Luthi and French­man Randy De Pu­niet – a key player in the de­vel­op­ment of the Suzuki pro­ject.

And with two tests un­der their belts for Kal­lio and Hof­mann at the new home of the Aus­trian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring and at Va­len­cia only weeks af­ter the fi­nal race of 2015, KTM Mo­tor­sport Di­rec­tor Pit Beirer says that they’ve al­ready made huge leaps for­wards.

“The first test was a very emo­tional mo­ment, not only for me but also for the com­pany, and I be­lieve for many KTM fans in Aus­tria and all over the world. This, and the start of the pro­ject on the rac­ing cir­cuit, are just as im­por­tant as any lap time. The feed­back and the fact that we were

KTM are work­ing with drivetrain spe­cial­ists Xtrac, sup­pli­ers of gear­boxes to the team’s Dakar bikes, to de­velop the now-stan­dard

seam­less gear­box

‘The fact that we were able to put in so many laps with­out prob­lems gives us

a lot of mo­ti­va­tion’

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