KTM has no intention of playing the part of an extra in MotoGP and its hiring of Zarco and collaboration with Tech3 are clear signs of this. It's true that the Austrian manufacturer is currently experiencing what it means to become competitive in the reigning class, having started with a blank canvas, but it's equally true that it is not lacking in resources or ability.
In this sense, convincing Johann to get on the RC16 is further motivation for the guys at KTM. Motorsport Director Pit Beirer explains more in an interview with Neil Morrison for Crash.net.
“If you just look at the ranking, Zarco is now riding at a level where we have never been. It’s one thing to sign a guy like him; another thing much more difficult is also to be a partner that means he can stay at that level. It’s clear at the moment: we need to make another step forward to get there. And I feel fully responsible for that because I don’t want to destroy his career, to take him down from his level to our level. I want to lift our project to his level."
The manager doesn't mince his words and is well aware of the challenge that awaits. Help could also come from Tech3, a very experienced MotoGP team that won't just be a ‘junior team’.
"Hervé referred to it as the ‘junior team.’ We never called them a ‘junior team’. My dream is actually to have four factory bikes on the grid. Of course at the moment our bike is not even good enough to say, ‘We give the best two bikes to these guys, and we’ll give a downgraded bike to the other guys.’ How crazy would this be if we’re not even getting one bike up there? First, the bike needs to improve. Maybe if there is only one development part for one rider, we will give it to the best rider. If he’s in Hervé’s team or on the other side, there will be absolutely no difference."
So KTM does not want to intentionally the bikes of its satellite team, as other manufacturers tend to do, by limiting engine revs for example. The reason is simple.
"You need a big budget and you need a huge commitment from the company to be in MotoGP. I still don’t understand what’s the reason then to not give the best bike to your guy, if you look to the total investment. People talk about a satellite team like it’s easy to give them used bikes from last year. But every part on a MotoGP bike has a mileage. So I need to reproduce new parts and there is not even a cost saving if I give them an old bike. I just try to make four identical bikes. I will call Hervé and tell him to stop talking about being a ‘junior team’. He made a deal with the factory and that’s why he has factory bikes for his team."