Features 4 May 2023

Rewind: KTM's MotoGP success

Reflecting on the brand's achievements in the premier class.

Since its debut in the premier class of the MotoGP World Championship in 2017, KTM has scored nine race victories with the RC16 amidst a wealth of top-three finishes. Following the brand’s double podium at Jerez last weekend, CycleOnline takes a look back at KTM’s MotoGP success in this Rewind feature.

The first of 23 podium finishes for the RC16 in MotoGP to date was at Valencia’s 2018 season finale, where Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) splashed his way to third in what was a two-part race.

KTM’s breakthrough MotoGP victory came in the hands of Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in 2020 at Brno. It was the South African’s third outing in the premier class, and he took the lead with nine laps to go after overcoming the likes of Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate at the time Pol Espargaro.

From there he immediately started to bolt clear at the front, and rode on to take a commanding 5.266s victory ahead of Morbidelli in what was a historic moment for both himself and the Austrian manufacturer.

Image: Supplied.

Just two rounds later that season, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Miguel Oliveira scored his first MotoGP win at the Styrian GP in what marked the 900th premier class race. Oliveria achieved the feat in a battle that went down to the wire against Pramac Racing Ducati’s Jack Miller and Pol Espargaro, ultimately making the decisive move in the final corner to seal a memorable home victory for KTM at the Red Bull Ring. With Espargaro finishing third, it was the first double podium for KTM in MotoGP.

In what was a third victory for the RC16 in the 2020 season, Oliveria again stood tall at the Portuguese Grand Prix to conclude what was a breakthrough year for the Austrian manufacturer with another win, bringing the brand’s podium total to eight for the season. From pole position, the number 88 led every lap on his way to taking a 3.193s victory ahead of Miller, as Morbidelli completed the top three.

2020 also marked the first time a KTM-equipped team finished inside the top three in the MotoGP team’s classification, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing finishing third thanks to the efforts of Binder and Espargaro. Notably, KTM’s first premier-class pole position also came that year thanks to Espargaro at the GP of Styria.

Stepping to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team in 2021, Oliveira scored KTM’s fourth MotoGP victory at Catalunya, narrowly edging Johann Zarco (Primac Racing) by 0.175s in what was a thrilling encounter.

Image: Supplied.

MotoGP victory number five for the Austrian manufacturer came at the Red Bull Ring later that year, with Binder making a daring call to stay on slicks as the rain started to fall. Delivering a gutsy performance to hold on, the number 33 took a memorable 12.991s victory to mark KTM’s second top-step success on home soil, also the fourth and final RC16 podium of the 2021 season.

2022 in many respects marked another positive season for KTM, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing finishing second in the team’s classification with two wins in wet conditions (Mandalika and Thailand) courtesy of Oliveira, and three runner-up results (Qatar, Japan and Valencia) thanks to Binder.

Red Bull KTM Factory has delivered a strong start to the 2023 season, with Binder achieving a 50 percent strike rate in the newly introduced sprint races. He charged from 15th on the grid to take a convincing win on Saturday’s bout in Argentina, and recently he edged Bagnaia and new teammate Miller in Jerez’s first encounter.

Round four of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship also marked Miller’s first podiums with the RC16, crossing the line third in Saturday’s sprint and P3 once more in Sunday’s Spanish GP, behind Binder, who scored his eighth premier class podium with KTM thanks to the runner-up result. The pair now sit fourth and third respectively ahead of the fifth round of the season at Le Mans, set to take place between 12-14 May.