News 13 Mar 2018

KTM targets the ‘next step’ with factory MotoGP project

Ongoing development has Red Bull KTM prepared for second term.

Image: Supplied.

KTM motorsport director Pit Beirer has vowed to keep pushing to make the next step in the MotoGP World Championship, outlining the Austrian brand’s intentions during its 2018 Red Bull KTM launch at the Hangar-7 facility in Salzburg.

With KTM’s second season in the premier class beginning this weekend in Qatar, expectations have been elevated for the new season after Pol Espargaro finished 17th and Bradley Smith 21st in the final standings.

“We are already very proud with what the team at home, on the track and riders themselves have achieved, but there is no time to sit still and we have pushed hard this winter to make the next step and put the riders in a position to fight this year,” Beirer explained. “MotoGP has been an adventure and we are happy with where we are at the moment.

“We will keep the speed up, it’s our passion. It is amazing how tough MotoGP is and if you are within one second of the top guys you can still be out of the top 15. We knew this though and wanted the challenge. We have close partners, great relationships and a strong group and now we need to make the next steps.

“I’m happy that our structure, all the way from the Red Bull Rookies Cup to the premier class, is in place and that will mean four bikes on the grid in MotoGP in 2019. It’s pretty cool that a rider can stay with the Red Bull KTM family through the classes. We want to enjoy 2018 because we have worked really hard behind the scenes.”

Last year aboard the Mike Leitner-led RC16, the combination of Espargaro and Smith – plus test rider Mika Kallio – collectively achieved seven top 10 results through the season. From 2019 there will be four factory KTMs on the grid, with the official team to be bolstered by a Tech3-operated satellite squad.