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Fierce Determination to Reach MotoGP Title Displayed at Red Bull KTM Launch

The Austrians aim to win, and won’t settle for anything less.  These sentiments were made perfectly clear at the launch of the Red Bull KTM Factory MotoGP Team a couple of days ago. Indeed, the Red Bull motorsport manager wants a MotoGP World title “very soon.” Nevertheless, the team is acknowledging that 2017 will be a learning/development year without any possibility for a title.

Coming off another victory at the Dakar Rally, KTM has a habit of winning races and titles both on-road and off. KTM’s CEO Stefan Pierer stated the company’s approach to racing: “KTM is there to fight for the win and the World Championship as in every project we start – be it Rally Dakar, MotoCross, SuperCross in America, Moto3 – and so on.” Pierer also branded Honda KTM’s “most hated competitor,” and alleged Honda has attempted to cheat at racing in the past. The fangs have come out!  Here are quotes from the KTM MotoGP riders:

Pol Espargaro: “Right now the bull is a little bit wild, but it feels really good. KTM is really new to MotoGP compared to other brands and we’re making huge steps. Every time we jump on the bike we get closer and it’s beautiful to see the evolution. I want to thank KTM for trusting me, and for this project.”

Bradley Smith: “There’s a lot of pressure. It’s something that you’ve always wished for and worked for throughout your career but when you finally get that opportunity there’s the pressure that comes with it. But I embrace the opportunity that I have and both me and Pol – and the team – will be working extremely hard. We’ve been busy so far already in the winter tests and the work won’t stop. It’s just the beginning and I’m excited to see what 2017 brings.”


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52 Comments

  1. Provologna says:

    I give KTM the same chances I gave Ben Spies of winning a MotoGP Championship.

    My analogy of the motivation for KTM’s CEO expenditures Re. his MotoGP campaign: my buddy’s brother in law is a high end executive for a utility company, who bought a humongous old home on a huge lot. The exec hired my buddy to do a costly Craftsman refurbish. In specifying the screen size for the front projector in the home theater, the exec says, “I don’t want to ever see a bigger screen at anyone’s home.” IOW, “Mine’s bigger than the Aprilia guy’s.”

    • Stuki Moi says:

      My estimation is that whether a well funded, dedicated upstart can become successful, has a lot to do with whether there really is “magic” in the last second per lap of those prototype chassis. Meaning, arcane little design elements that can’t really be predicted, hence engineered, unless one has lots and lots and lots of experience, read decades, of iterating back and forth between world class racers and bike designers, across a wide variety of bikes. Say, if some of the knowledge going into current Hondas and Yamahas are things that only become obvious enough to be noticed, by having highly perceptive racers give feedback about riding almost unrideably explosive two strokes with zero electronics… If that’s the case, it will be tough for KTM, as that last second or two may be almost the equivalent of a moonshot, considering the head start the big guys have.

      Little Suzuki getting back into it so quickly, while BMW never even bothered despite all their resources, and despite potential marketing benefits carrying over all the way to their infinitely larger automotive business, does indicate there might be something to that. There is no way BMW didn’t consider it, that’s for sure.

      • sbashir says:

        So how has KTM been winning Moto2 and Moto3 and Motocross and Supercross and Dakar and Enduro, while Honda hasn’t? They don’t know how to make a lightweight and strong chassis but everyone else does?

        • Stuki Moi says:

          I’m guessing the MotoGP chassis are sufficiently distinct to be hard to replicate.

          It’s the other way around in, say, Dakar. Honda threw everything they had at it to support the Africa Twin launch, yet still came up short against “little” KTM.

          What I’m trying to say is that simply having great engineers with big budgets on current staff, may not be enough. There are also learnings that go way back, that the builders of the top bikes can lean on and refer to. Mistakes that have to be made and be learned from, one by tome consuming one, so to speak. No shortcuts.

          Not saying I know this for sure. But it’s certainly not outside the realm of the possible.

  2. PatrickD says:

    It’s great to see a significant manufacturer join the fray, but the lack of diversity in MotoGP is disappointing, especially when you recall the class at inception.
    If you put repsol colours on the KTM bike, would you be fooled?
    There were weight classifications and the rumour mill was facinating back in 2002(?). Some reckoned that Ducati (with dominance at WSB level then) would produce a V-Twin with cutting edge tecnology and reap the rewards of a 15kg weight advantage. We had the crazee Aprilia Cube. There were some v-6 bikes on the board too.
    It’s be easy to say that these things were pie-in-the-sky, and I doubt that anyone would’ve stopped Honda and Yamaha from dominating since then. But recall that we had the Roberts V-3 two strokes, which scored a Pole at Australia and acheived some notable results.
    They then figured they’d take Honda on at their own game, built a V-5 four stroke and promptly buried themselves.
    Shame for lack of diversity.

  3. Norm G. says:

    (technically speaking)

    you guys are aware this engine is an all new clean sheet 90V design, yes…? it is apparently NOT (as i originally thought) the KTM 72-75 degree (or whatever it was) engine from the 990 era of old. this was the kit run briefly by Kenny’s Roberts Proton in like ’05 before Austria up and “cancelled Innsbruck Christmas” on the man. forgot about that one didn’t ya.

    • Dave says:

      Engines are hardly the problem anymore. Except for the very longest tracks, they all have more hp than the traction/wheelie control stuff can give the riders access to.

      While the benefits of the 90* V are known, it still presents the same packaging problems that Ducati has struggled to solve across their history namely, a rearward weight bias disadvantage, causing more on-throttle push than the I-4 guys experience. Honda’s guys (not a 90* V?) have even adopted the J-turn style (stop, turn, go) but again, they’re up against the wheelspin/wheelie limitation with that technique and so they occasionally lose on corner-speed to I-4 bikes.

      Do we think KTM can figure that ^ problem out?

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Engines are hardly the problem anymore.”

        said no seasoned MotoGP engineer, rider, or crew chief…

        EVER.

        • Stuki Moi says:

          There are long enough straights at every GP track, for a more powerful bike to pick up a hundredth here, a hundredth there, at the end of very many of them.

          And while few of them are long enough to outright pass another bike on by power differential alone, the faster bikes does allow a rider to recover slightly better from a less than ideal drive out the foregoing corner. Which will, given enough corners and straights, result in an occasional pass, or more commonly a defense of position, vis-a-vis a slightly less powerful machine.

          It’s so close these days, that any little edge does add up over the course of a season.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “any little edge does add up over the course of a season”

            translation: don’t bring knives to the gun fight.

            see, Stuki gets it.

      • guu says:

        Honda is also 90 degrees.

      • Freddie Spencer says:

        Dave, is that you? Is this the same mechanic Dave from my Two Bros comeback in AMA? This guy knows his stuff!

      • Troy F Collins says:

        Crankshaft center line to front wheel center line is the key

        bingo

  4. William Parker says:

    , the Red Bull motorsport manager wants a MotoGP World title “very soon.” yea well I want a date with Kate Upton, but that’s not likely soon..

  5. Fastship says:

    “Win on Sunday sell on Monday”? I don’t understand KTM’s policy here as they have abandoned the sports bike market. There will be no successor to the fantastic RC8 so why are they squandering resources on MotoGP?

    KTM CEO Stefan Pierer said “… we at KTM think that a sportbike with such performance doesn’t have any place on the public roads.”

    • Neil says:

      I saw the KTM at Road Atlanta. 180 mph. I mean, you’re not doing that on the road. My 92 HP VFR was plenty. On a backroad or highway I could smoke anything that moved. 85 past an 18 wheeler in 3rd at 9000 rpm and she was purring like a kitten.

      • Provologna says:

        On Lucas Valley Road in Marin County, CA, on a bike making about 60hp, I flew by higher powered bikes (and every shape of cage) like they were in reverse. Two exceptions I could not touch, both fast club racers on race prepped late model GSXR-750 and an early R1, the latter ridden by a side car champion w/multiple Isle of Man races.

        LVR is either miserable to those unfamiliar with it or fifteen minutes of ecstasy on wheels: serpentine, up/down, maybe 85mph tops on my bike, off camber, narrow, gorgeous and dangerous canyon drops lacking runoff, shaded zones that stay wet much of the year. Still miss it since I moved out of State.

    • stinkywheels says:

      That’s so true. I don’t know what they’ll get out of it if they have no sportbike outside of the lowest classes. I guess it’s a way to sharpen their electronics skills. I’ve not ridden the “Beast” but they sure seem to like the electronics. I always wanted the RC8 because it was the last superbike without the nannies. I just never liked the orange or white colors or the price.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        It can be argued that KTM positions all their bikes to be the “sportbike” of their respective categories. They certainly trade on their “ready to race” approach to marketing pretty much everywhere.

        While Pierer won’t likely admit it, the real reason they aren’t building a real sportbike, is that in that category, the others are making an effort to be sportbikes as well. So things aren’t quite as easy there.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        Another reason to not bother with a “real sportbike” is that the demographic buying those are dying out. The big sport bike growth segments are smaller displacement machines, suitable for overpopulated, displacement taxed Asian countries. And who’s to say dominating GP won’t help sell 390 class sport bikes there, as effectively as they do 1000cc ones here?

    • JVB says:

      KTM should follow Kawasaki’s formula about refining their street bike through WSBK. RIP RC8R.

      • paquo says:

        right except the race bike uses a swanky 4 cyl not a lumpy twin. I heard the ktm 4 cyl motor and it sounds other worldly, after owning a handful of ktm twins there is no way i want another. Just the fact that they wont use a twin yet produce a velvety v4 just for racing seems cheesy

    • guu says:

      No one is in MotoGP because of sport bike sales. Honda sport bike sales (prob.) couldn’t support a Moto3 effort. Its about brand building as a whole (cars, generators, boat engines etc). Besides that, Pierer has already said that KTM is going to make a new sports bike.

      • nickst4 says:

        If KTM aim to make a new sports bike that benefits from the kudos of their MotoGP machine, we could at last see a beautiful KTM road bike! Of course, they’ll have to let their current stylist Kriska go, but he’s been producing origami designs for far too long. KTMs have always been functional but ugly, IMO.

        • Pacer says:

          The new Ford GT is a brand icon. It says we know you want an EcoBoost Explorer, and the GT shows that we can build the best in any class. Hopefully the buyer figures the Explorer is the best in class.

          Ktm MotoGP effort shows their ability to be the best at what they do weather it be a Super Duke, Super Adventure, or Duke 125.

          • mickey says:

            So what happens to their reputation if they spend a couple of years at this and can get no higher than say 4 th or 5 th in the championship?

          • Dave says:

            Ducati hasn’t finished better than 4th since Stoner. How has it affected their reputation?

          • Norm G. says:

            Q: So what happens to their reputation if they spend a couple of years at this and can get no higher than say 4 th or 5 th in the championship?

            A: they’ll change their name to SUZUKI and move the works to Hamamatsu by way of “unleveraged” buyout.

          • mickey says:

            I would say their rep was at an all time high when Stoner was winning, but has gone down hill since. I would say there is not nearly the hype around Ducati street bikes that there used to be just a few years ago when they were on every magazine cover and coveted by magazine writers.

            The point being if KTM says they want the Championship “soon” and if people are saying once KTM puts their mind to it they win because to quote “Ktm MotoGP effort shows their ability to be the best at what they do” and then they can’t or don’t win, doesn’t it show they are not as good as they or their customers think they are?

            If at the end of their first season if they are in 5th I think that is very admirable, if they are still in 5th at the end of their 3rd season, it might be time for a reality check. To think you can come in and beat Honda and Yamaha at this game is fantasy. A tough lesson Ducati, Suzuki and Aprilia have learned so far. Ducati just spent 20 mil a year hoping Lorenzo can get them back to the top (which only lasted one year). We shall see.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “I would say their rep was at an all time high when Stoner was winning, but has gone down hill since.”

            aw man.

            re: “I would say there is not nearly the hype around Ducati street bikes that there used to be just a few years ago when they were on every magazine cover”

            aw man.

          • Pacer says:

            Micky, it won’t let me reply to you, so I am posting it here.

            You are correct. What if? Is the question. KTM is show some balls here, and now they have to back it up. They are all in, and if they succeed they will be rewarded.

            Also, I think you are spot on about Ducati.

    • MotoMaster39 says:

      KTM has plans to build bikes like these for high end customers/satellite teams, so the tooling isn’t just a huge money pit. When you consider that Red Bull is paying for a large portion of the bill, and that racing gives them brand exposure to sell more bikes in moto racing crazed places like Spain, it’seems probably not as bad of an investment as it seems.

      Even if they don’t win a title, their bike could be super reliable and a bunch of satellite teams might jump ship from say Ducati or Honda. Having a large precentage of the grid repping their brand is good marketing too.

    • sbashir says:

      All he said was that a motorcycle with over 200 hp does not belong on the street. He is still free to come up with sport bikes under 200 hp.

  6. Mick says:

    Those vents on the fairing look like they may be trying to get a little down force out of the deal when leaned over. I know that they have a whole lot of heat to dump. But there is a bit of a uniform look to the venting system to my eye.

  7. CB says:

    Yeah… they are starting with two very good riders but truly unknown as far as top 5 talent. Get the bike within a second f the big 3 and then get a top 3 rider and see what happens…. great start and beautiful bike….

    • sbashir says:

      They were within 1.3 seconds at Phillip Island.

      • Craig says:

        Yes, they were and no small feat… I guess I meant within striking distance at the end of the race… 1 second a lap is 20 seconds or more a race… that needs to be within 10 and you’ll have a top guy looking to come over and ride!!!

  8. mickey says:

    quite a lofty goal considering Honda and Yamaha have been at this game awhile, have a ton of experience, lotsa money, and have the best riders in the paddock. Ducati and Suzuki are no slouches either to have to overcome.

    If they don’t win a championship “soon” (indeterminate time table) does that mean they will fold their tent, and go back to playing only in the dirt?

    • Dave says:

      Re: “lotsa money”

      See that “Red bull” logo on the side? Those guys bankrolled two F1 teams at the same time.

    • sbashir says:

      KTM is not one to give up. They win at everything they enter. Their “READY TO RACE” motto (comes up on my bike when I turn it on) is not for nothing. They were within 1.3 seconds at Phillip Island and have more than a month to fine tune the bike before Qatar.

  9. Trpldog says:

    That be some real eye candy thar!

  10. VLJ says:

    Ditch the green Motorex section at the bottom of the fairing. Just let it read ‘Motorex’ against a black background. Other than that one flaw, this might be the most badass-looking bike ever.

  11. MotoMaster39 says:

    Man that’s a sharp looking bike! KTM and Red Bull is just such a classic combo. The new graphics alone should knock off .5 seconds a lap.

    Pretty lofty ambitions they have for the thing, especially considering that Vinales and Marquez are locked in for the next two years. Honestly, I can’t see anyone challenging those two for a title unless they take each other out.

  12. tbrad says:

    Their bike just may end up being really good in a couple years, but they’re still going to need one hell of a rider if they want to beat Honda for the title!

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Their riders have one-year contracts, so they may sign a top rider as soon as their bike is competitive.

      • Brian Dueck says:

        Barring a disaster, I think KTM will stick with at least one and probably both of their current riders for at least two years.

        After that, we will see.

        But wouldn’t it be interesting if in year 2, we start seeing the KTM solidly in the top 10 and nudging the top 5.

        Then think what an alien and a third season could do to nudge it into a top 3.

        Now consider Rossi has 2 years (17/18) on his contract with Yamaha. Imagine him going out in style on top of a KTM?

  13. Bob says:

    That’s some kinda pretty machinery.