It’s the ma­chine Bri­tain’s Bradley Smith will be rid­ing next year – and it’s look­ing good

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Si­mon Pat­ter­son

KTM rolled out the new RC16 ma­chine that they be­lieve will al­low them to be con­tenders for the 2017 Mo­togp sea­son dur­ing their home round in Aus­tria at the week­end.

Un­veil­ing the Red Bull-spon­sored bike, fit­tingly at the Red Bull Ring, the firm ex­pressed their in­ten­tions to be­come ti­tle con­tenders in the near fu­ture by show­ing off the fin­ished ma­chine both on stage and on track, with test rid­ers Alex Hoff­man and Mika Kal­lio.

And while there’s still a lot of work planned on the ma­chine that will line up on the grid for the first time next year at Qatar with Bradley Smith and Pol Es­par­garó, Tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor Se­bas­tian Risse says that he’s more than happy with the team’s progress.

He said: “It started re­ally well - me­chan­i­cal re­li­a­bil­ity has been one of the true pos­i­tive points, al­low­ing us to com­plete a lot of laps and there­fore col­lect a lot of data. But in the first tests this year we had bad weather con­di­tions, so we lost a lot of time and the list of test items got longer and longer.

“So it was a bright be­gin­ning, then we had a bit of bad luck with test­ing con­di­tions, and now we are back build­ing con­fi­dence and the un­der­stand­ing of the crew and of the bike.

“From a rider point of view, the testers have felt how the bike un­der­stands in so many con­di­tions. Ev­ery stage was nec­es­sary.”

And while many have de­rided the ma­chine for be­ing based around a now-un­usual steel trel­lis frame, the Aus­trian ad­mit­ted that there was never any other al­ter­na­tive for a firm so closely linked to the con­cept.

“Ev­ery project I have worked on with KTM was with a steel frame. As a com­pany we have done so many projects with this kind of frame and there­fore we have col­lected a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence of how to han­dle and man­u­fac­ture this style, as well as how to an­a­lyse this on a stiff­ness rig or from track data.

“Maybe we could be for­given for us­ing alu­minium like ev­ery­one else is do­ing in Mo­togp, but you have to un­der­stand why they are us­ing this de­sign and then adapt it to your needs. But we al­ready know the behaviour of steel, but not quite in this same sit­u­a­tion - with the power, grip lev­els and so on. With us­ing alu­minium, we would have had to start from zero.”

But while the bike may be built around a steel trel­lis frame, one thing will re­main more con­sis­tent, with the firm us­ing a V4 sim­i­lar to the con­fig­u­ra­tion used by Du­cati – and more closely as­so­ci­ated with their road-go­ing V-twins, ac­cord­ing to en­gine de­signer Kurt Trieb.

He said: “There are many ad­van­tages to a V4, in en­gine per­for­mance and me­chan­i­cal re­li­a­bil­ity. I have ex­pe­ri­ence with in­line fours and the prob­lems that come with those, so ei­ther way I was at ease with what­ever de­ci­sion was made. But an in­line four wasn’t con­sid­ered to be a KTM char­ac­ter­is­tic. In the end we didn’t re­ally have many dis­cus­sions about what con­fig­u­ra­tion to go for.”

And while the firm ad­mit that they’re not ex­pect­ing the world when the ma­chine makes its de­but as a wild­card at Va­len­cia later this sea­son, project boss and for­mer crew chief to Dani Pe­drosa, Mike Leitner, says that they know ex­actly what their longer-term in­ten­tions are.

“Be­ing happy with tenth or twelfth po­si­tion is com­pletely dif­fer­ent from when you are only happy with first po­si­tion. Then, with sec­ond, you can ac­cept the de­feat a lit­tle, but in third place ev­ery­one has a long face in the garage. Our tar­get in the fu­ture is to ar­rive at the point when our guys in the garage get a long face when fin­ish­ing third!”

‘Re­li­a­bil­ity has been one of the pos­i­tives – al­low­ing us to com­plete a lot of laps’ SE­BAS­TIAN RISSE

Test rider Mika Kal­lio on the hot new KTM

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