KTM

KTM MotoGP Launch: Brad Binder And Miguel Oliveira Look Back At 2021, And Ahead To 2022

While the most interesting parts of the KTM launch had to do with the personnel changes, and the shift of focus from the purely technical to the human (for a full review, see here), factory riders Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira were still fascinating on the weakness of the 2021 KTM RC16 and what they wanted fixing for 2022.

What the riders were missing above all was some consistency, Miguel Oliveira said. "Through different key moments of the championship I wasn't able to finish the race. Two big examples; Austria race 2 and Misano race 2 where the result could have been quite good."

KTM paid for that lack of consistency down the stretch, leaving too many points on the table and making a championship campaign tough. "The other thing is the pure consistency of the results, finishing the races pays off a lot at the end of the championship. And of course that's of course the main reason why I think consistency must be improved," Oliveira pointed out.

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Pit Beirer And The KTM MotoGP Launch: It's The Human Factor That Makes The Difference

Not all team launches are the same. They vary in style, substance, length, medium. There are live presentations, long prerecorded presentations, and short videos. Their length or content inevitably have no correlation to their information density. When you start, you never know what you are going to get.

The KTM MotoGP launch kicked off with a 4:35 video presentation which was all style and no substance, four minutes of spectacular images, dramatic electronic music, and empty cliches about racing. After the launch, however, things got good. Really good. Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira gave a glimpse of where they felt the KTM RC16 was lacking in 2021, and what needed to improve. Interesting, but not earth-shattering.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - What KTM’s RC16 needs to run at the front of MotoGP again

KTM was the hero of the 2020 MotoGP season, then struggled in 2021. Team engineers tell us they need to improve qualifying speed and corner-exit performance to get back to the front in 2022

KTM goes into the 2022 MotoGP world championship following two seasons of weirdly contrasting fortunes.

In 2020, following KTM’s first complete redesign of the RC16 since the bike’s debut, the Austrian factory had a breakthrough year, claiming its first victories and missing a podium place in the constructors championship by just two points.

KTM had arrived.

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MotoGP News Round Up: Miller Misses Ducati Launch, COTA Resurfaced, Spa Upgraded, Marquez Rides Again, And Rossi's In-Depth Interviews

As the start of the MotoGP season grows closer, the news cycle is starting to ramp up. Websites are starting to be able to report on things that are actually happening, rather than desperately thrashing around looking for filler content. So here's a round up of the latest developments in MotoGP.

The first Covid casualty of 2022

Jack Miller took to social media last night to announce that he had unfortunately tested positive for the coronavirus. "As you can tell, I'm still here in Australia due to testing positive for covid. I'm currently unable to travel, and will miss the team presentation." He was not suffering any symptoms, he emphasized. "I just want to let you all know I'm doing fine, no symptoms, continuing training on the farm."

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Francesco Guidotti On Moving From Pramac To KTM: "When You Jump Into A Factory Team, The Only Goal Is To Win"

It was a surprise, but in retrospect it is quite clear why KTM made one of the biggest moves on team personnel by recruiting Pramac team manager Francesco Guidotti.

When the 2021 season ended, we were only expecting to get one announcement about team personnel before the start of 2022: who would be the team manager of Suzuki. Rider announcements would come later, after the team launches and the preseason tests started, as all six manufacturers face the challenge of trying to sign riders with the grid almost completely out of contract at the end of the season.

So news of Francesco Guidotti leaving the Pramac Ducati team after 10 years as team manager for KTM came as a big surprise. First announced by Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport’s Paolo Ianieri, then confirmed by KTM after announcing the change of role for Mike Leitner, who started and led the MotoGP project with the Austrian manufacturer. The move came as a surprise also for Pramac team owner Paolo Campinoti, with some reports suggesting the Italian took the departure of the man who helped him bring the Pramac team to its current level in the world championship very hard.

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The 2022 MotoGP Silly Season Primer: Who Is Likely To Move Where Next Year?

It is the second week of January, and there as yet no substantial rumors of MotoGP rider contracts being signed. Compared to recent years, that is a bit of a late start to Silly Season, given that all but a handful of riders have their contracts up for renewal at the end of 2022.

In past years, January has been a hive of activity. In 2020, there were rumors over the new year period that Maverick Viñales was being courted by Ducati, with Yamaha forced to make an early announcement to keep the Spaniard in the Monster Energy factory team (and we all know how that turned out). A couple of weeks later, rumors followed that Ducati had signed Jorge Martin, and at the end of January, we learned that Fabio Quartararo had been signed to the factory Yamaha squad, displacing Valentino Rossi.

Two years earlier had seen a similar story, with Yamaha signing both Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi up in January, in time for the team launch. And to think, Valentino Rossi bemoaned Casey Stoner's move to Repsol Honda for the 2011 season as a decision taken early, when the deal was sealed after the Jerez round of MotoGP in early May, 2010.

By those standards, the current lack of movement on the contract front almost qualifies as tardiness. Riders are not jumping on contracts early, and factories are not pushing hard to sign riders before they get poached by someone else.

A different environment

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Paul Trevathan Interview: Red Bull KTM Crew Chief On Riding Position, Changing Riders, The Influence Of Ride-Height Devices, And Developing A MotoGP Bike

There are a lot of elements to racing a motorcycle, and as the racing in MotoGP gets closer, every detail counts. When you are chasing thousandths of a second instead of tenths, then even the smallest details matter.

Paul Trevathan, experienced MotoGP crew chief with the Red Bull KTM Factory Team, understands this all too well. After switching from motocross, Trevathan took some of the skills he learned in the dirt to help MotoGP riders go faster. With success: he helped Pol Espargaro develop the KTM RC16 to the point where Espargaro racked up six podiums, including five in 2020. With Miguel Oliveira taking Espargaro's place in 2021, Trevathan and Oliveira teamed up for a victory and two more podiums.

At Valencia, I sat down with Trevathan to dig into the nitty gritty of bike set up, in terms of position on the bike, and how that has changed over the years. We talked how handlebar positions have shifted, how riding styles affect peg, lever, and seat positions, and the process of adapting a rider to a bike. Trevathan talks about how he has adapted to work with Miguel Oliveira, a very different personality to his previous rider, Pol Espargaro. And he discusses how aerodynamics and ride-height devices have changed MotoGP, and the effect they have for a crew chief, and on rider safety.

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KTM Press Release Confirms Francesco Guidotti To Be Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager

The news that Francesco Guidotti is to replace Mike Leitner as team manager of the Red Bull KTM MotoGP team has been known for a while now. After the news last week that Mike Leitner is transition to a consultancy role, today, KTM issued the following press release confirming Guidotti will take his place as team manager:

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KTM Moves Mike Leitner Out Of Team Management Role, Brings Francesco Guidotti In

Mike Leitner, the man who was brought in to lead KTM's MotoGP project from the very beginning, is to be moved aside by the Austrian factory. Today, KTM officially announced that the engineer and former HRC crew chief - he was crew chief to Dani Pedrosa for most of the Spaniard's career - is to be moved into a consultancy role.

Although the press release does not give an explict reason for the change, beyond a desire to "restructure the KTM Factory Racing hierarchy", the move reflects a feeling that KTM's progress toward its objective of winning a MotoGP title has stalled. While KTM made good progress in 2019, and won its first races in 2020, 2021 saw the Austrian factory take a step backward. Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira still won races, but they struggled to make it into the top ten just as often.

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2021 Jerez MotoGP Test Deep Dive: What Makes Ducati The Big Winners At Jerez?

MotoGP got lucky at Jerez. Not perfectly lucky – strong winds made Turn 11 treacherous, and made it hard to assess some of the aerodynamics and chassis changes being tried. But for two days, the sun shone, and temperatures were high enough to ride for most of the day. November in Jerez can be hit and miss, but it was mostly hit, with little time lost to conditions.

With so much track time, it is instructive to note that very few riders actually went for a time attack. Most years, leaving the last test of the year with the fastest time, or at least, a very fast time, is a matter of pride, and of momentum. MotoGP riders want to go into next year having shown their rivals that they have something to worry about, to intimidate them going into the long winter break.

Not 2021, however. Riders were too busy actually testing new parts to waste time on braggadocio. That factories and teams were busy testing new parts suggests a number of things, and has a few possible explanations. Firstly, there has been a dearth of testing over the past two Covid-stricken years, with little winter testing between 2020 and 2021, and limited testing during the 2021 season.

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