KTM TO GO BI MOTOGP
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
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
‘The fact that we were able to put in so many laps without problems gives us
a lot of motivation’