KTM OFFICIALLY UNVEIL 2017 MOTOGP MISSILE
It’s the machine Britain’s Bradley Smith will be riding next year – and it’s looking good
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