News 22 Jul 2016

KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team project on target

Positive first public outing sets team up for Valencia wildcard.

Source: Supplied.

Source: Supplied.

KTM’s entry in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship took another positive turn during the Red Bull Ring test in Austria this week, as the RC16 in the hands of Mika Kallio was able to lap within two seconds of the series regulars.

The KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team will make its race debut in a wildcard at Valencia this November, before next year’s signings Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith take charge in the annual post-race test.

“Finally the day has arrived we can measure ourselves directly against our competitors and it was a great feeling,” commented KTM motorsports director Pit Beirer. “But in principle we are here to continue to improve and we can say clearly that everything is going according to plan. Naturally we’re somewhat slower than the absolute top guys at this point, but the difference is not dramatic and we can see where we have to improve.

“The fact that we already have our two factory riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro under contract for the next two years already makes me feel very confident laptime-wise. We now have four further tests on the program before we ride with Mika Kallio as a wildcard in the final race of the season in Valencia, which for us is also another milestone. He and the entire team have delivered a fantastic job in the past half year and this has been reflected in the results of this test.”

Official KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team test rider Kallio seamlessly fitted in alongside the MotoGP regulars during the two days at Red Bull Ring. With two full seasons of experience in MotoGP during 2009 and 2010 at Pramac Racing, Kallio is a natural fit within KTM’s fold after riding for the factory squad from mid-2003 through 2008.

“I think our performance was better than many expected and the distance between us and the others could have been greater,” Kallio said. “But we’ve delivered impressive work on the two test days and we notice that the other teams were to some extent also impressed. We didn’t have any technical problems and this meant we could reel off a lot of laps at a high level.

“Step by step we were able to put in faster laps over both days and on the second day we improved our times by a second over the first. This time the concentration was more on set-up and less on development and that made it easier for me to ride faster times, so my confidence improved lap for lap. With all the other riders on the circuit we clearly saw in which areas we still had to improve. This allowed me to follow some other riders and I understand what is now necessary.”

KTM technical director on-road, Sebastian Risse, took a lot from the brand’s first public test: “This time we concentrated on three fundamental points. Lap times, how others manage electronics and tires plus normal settings and test work we have been able to do also in the past. Technically we didn’t make as many steps forward, but we made a lot of progress with the lap times.

“We moved between a deficit of between one and a half and two seconds on both days, which for me was actually less than expected. The next development step will be a big one and we will aim to cleanly integrate all of our experiences into a completely new bike. I hope that with this bike, and the continuous updates we’ll be better equipped for our wildcard entry and the IRTA test.”

The benchmark lap of the Austrian test came from Ducati Team rider Andrea Iannone at 1m23.240s, while KTM’s Kallio posted a 1m25.191s laptime and fellow test rider, Moto2 regular Tom Luthi, setting a 1m25.705s.