MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 team liveries uncovered in Austria.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing has officially launched its 2017 MotoGP World Championship entry in a presentation at the new KTM Motorsports building in Munderfing, Austria.
The entry into the premier class of MotoGP racing makes KTM the first manufacturer in the current era to have a factory team contesting all three categories of the world championship.
“Why MotoGP? Well, this came to us from the market,” explained KTM CEO Stefan Pierer. “Three years ago we overtook our competitor BMW in terms of sales and we became the third biggest manufacturer of sports motorcycles in the world. Hubert Trunkenpolz [KTM CSO] said ‘Now we have to go to MotoGP, and I will support you with additional sales’.
“I talked to Pit [Beirer] and he set up a perfect program. His priority was to set up the infrastructure here with all the know-how and all the people. I think it’s the benchmark worldwide and with this three-year program we did our homework and now it’s getting real.”
KTM Motorsport director Beirer added: “We are very experienced in racing, but of course to enter at this level of MotoGP is another dimension for our whole company. But we love pressure because we are racers, so it’s nothing special for us to handle. Of course the last weeks and months have been an adventure and a huge effort by the whole company, so I have to say thank you to our board and Mr. Pierer for putting their trust in us so we should prepare to enter MotoGP.
“All this would not have been possible without all the other disciplines we raced before. For us, it is a dream come true. We have built up young riders in all the disciplines and we stick with them, through good times and bad. It was sad that we nurtured many good young riders in the Red Bull Rookies who could go to Moto3, but then it was somehow horrible to lose them in Moto2. Just imagine what it would have been like to have a world champion like Brad Binder having to leave us. Now we are doing Moto2, we have closed the gap, so our kids can stay with us through their whole career and all the classes.”
Red Bull motorsport manager Thomas Überall detailed the extensive collaboration between the energy drink giant and KTM – both Austrian brands – and said it was a natural addition to support KTM’s target of succeeding in MotoGP together.
“For us, Heinz Kinigadner is the probably the reason that we are here,” Überall commented. “He was one of the first athletes I met when I started at Red Bull and he was also the one who brought me into this KTM family. Now after all the success and with Pit joining the motorsport department in 2007, everything moved a step higher and we started to win in off-road and in the US – everywhere.
“Then with Moto3, it was a big jump into road racing. It was clear for us as an Austrian company and one with such a long history with KTM that we had to join this project from day one. We’re looking forward to the same success as in off-road and naturally also to win the MotoGP title very soon.”
The KTM RC16 was rolled out at the end of October 2015 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, and since then the team has conducted more than 50 test days on various GP circuits. Test rider Mika Kallio also rode the racing machine as a wildcard entry in the final round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship at Valencia last November.
Alongside its brand new MotoGP project featuring Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, Red Bull KTM also introduced its Ajo Motorsport-run Moto2 program of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira, as well as the world champion Moto3 squad of Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder.