KTM BATTLE FOR GRIP
KTM had a mixed weekend as they made their Motogp debut at Valencia with test rider and former Moto2 runnerup, Mika Kallio.
Complaining about a persistent lack of rear grip, Kallio was more than three seconds off the pace on Friday but after switching to Michelin’s softer option tyre on Saturday, the Austrians were able to make a marked improvement.
Not only did Kallio reduce the gap to the front in qualifying, he also moved himself past series regulars Tito Rabat and Yonny Hernandanez. But the factory’s debut would be short lived as the Finnish rider was forced to retire from Sunday’s race with a speed sensor issue.
KTM Technical Director Sebastian Risse commented: “Our performance is one thing but then there’s the performance of our competitors! They are really strong, especially when you see a new pole record! They are pushing and quick, but if you compare in terms of lap times I think we can be quite happy. We made steps forward, and the all round performance has also improved. Not being last in qualifying was a big, big step forward.
“The first important step was with the tyre. We are lacking some experience in the rhythm of the race weekend with the Michelin tyres. On Friday and Saturday we focused on different tyre specs. The softer spec was much more difficult for the race distance but in terms of lap times and confidence it was a big step forward for us. That enabled us to start working and looking at lap times.
“I think the bike is quite stable, the engine is quite strong. You will not always see that in top speed as there are a lot of parameters, the downforce, air resistance and exit grip that play into total performance, but looking at the engine we have a strong package. The weak points are turning and grip.”
KTM’S bike looks gorgeous but is still a work in progress