One day after Saturday’s press conference, the general public will get a first glimpse of the KTM MotoGP bike in action on Sunday when both test riders Mika Kallio and Alex Hofmann will put in some demo laps on the host circuit, the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg.
Since Alex Hoffman first rode the KTM RC16, nine and a half months have passed, and nine development tests have been absolved. Now KTM is making final preparations to enter the highest level of motorcycle racing. In 2017 KTM will have a presence in all classes of the sport from Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup to Moto3 and Moto2, right up to the premiere class of the world championship series, the MotoGP.
Stefan Pierer (CEO KTM Group): “Almost two and a half years ago we made the decision that when we become number one in Europe we would be forced to take the last step (to join MotoGP). Meanwhile we’re now selling more than 60% of our 200,000 bikes onroad and to get accepted at the highest level of the sport you must take part in MotoGP, the F1 of motorcycle racing. Racing is our philosophy, our motivation and if we enter the segment, for sure we will have a learning curve but we will reach to podium – and my life’s dream is to be the world champion in MotoGP.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta (CEO Dorna Sports) “It was not difficult to convince them because the spirit of competition is in the heart of KTM. This is a very important step for us. We have a balance of Japanese and European manufacturers and KTM has proved its capability in all sporting activities. I am very impressed with how KTM does things, and not just with MotoGP. When they started with Moto3 they were immediately very competitive. KTM does things in the proper way and everything is connected in a very good way, I believe. Later on, races are races and you need some luck, but they prepare everything in the right way.”
Pit Beirer (Motorsports Director): “It was already a big challenge in 2012 to come back into Moto3 and to win the title in the first year was something outstanding. But our dream was to be part of MotoGP and our boss Mr. Pierer never gives up until we’re really there. This time we’re ready to be a strong competitor in this class but it was a couple hard months for the whole company and everyone was stretched to the limit. We created the facility with our race factory. We had to bring in the people. It was a tough call but we can also be proud to be here amongst the highest ranking in the motorcycle world.”
Mike Leitner (Vice President Onroad): “To be fair when I came to KTM there were already very good engineers in the house and I was impressed. But you also need people who understand what goes on in the world of MotoGP. We got them and they work with our people in house. We have to be a strong competitor at a high level. The competition won’t give you any space on the track. You have to fight hard and that includes all the team at the track and in the house. They all have to be very strong.”
Sebastian Risse (Technical Director Onroad): “What we see now is still changing day by day, but the line is getting clearer. I’m really happy with the bike at the moment. The best thing an engineer can get is good feedback from the riders, and we’re getting that. And the crew also did a super good job.”
Mika Kallio (Test Rider MotoGP): “The first time I was on the bike I felt the basis was there and the lap times were already on a good level. We have needed to improve a lot of things and we did this. I think a few weeks ago we demonstrated to everyone that we’re on a good level. It was good to be on the bike and I really enjoyed all the laps I did. We are already quite close to our competitors and step-by-step we are improving. I would say the engine on this bike is already good and now we have four more tests before Valencia.”
Following Sunday’s demo laps at 13:15 CET at the circuit, the KTM Factory Racing Team will continue on to Misano in Italy for further tests after next weekend. This will be the first of a total of four tests before competing as a wild car entry in the season’s finale in Valencia at middle of November.