The factory team's KTM RC16 does not differ much from last year's bike, but 2021 starts under totally different auspices. While in 2020 it was still looking for confirmation, now the Austrian manufacturer already has three MotoGP victories under its belt and the two riders who obtained them in the official team.
Miguel Oliveira has joined Brad Binder in the 'first team' by reforming a couple already seen in Moto2 and Moto3.
They have the job of helping KTM take that final step to arrive at the ultimate victory. Meanwhile, today they showed off their new colours: “2020 in general was a season where I feel we achieved a lot, a few good results and obviously with the first victory – or KTM’s first victory – being the main thing – said Brad Binder - But there were also many days when we had the potential to do so much more. For sure now the margin is a little bit smaller to try and improve but I think as the season went on last year, even though we had a little bit of a slump in the middle, things got better and better. I felt like I was improving not only for the results but in the way approaching the weekends and going session-by-session. At the moment I feel that we have a really, really strong package. We are in a good direction and I am super-excited to get back on the bike this year.”
Miguel Oliveira is eager to get on track: “For sure to be world champion you need to have many details together at the same time and for that, depending on how the season is going and what is happening, generally we can find success through the project. Sometimes a 4th place will be a very good result and sometimes a 2nd place may not fulfil our expectations but you have to work through that process and right now, as a start base, I am thinking quite hard to set a bar of results that we can consider as successful. For sure being better than 2020 is already a good start. It is quite a relaxing factor to know that the bike is capable of winning but at the same time you cannot take anything for granted and when it comes to repeating success it becomes harder, so I don’t see it as a static job. I think every year you need to bring something ‘up’ on your side to keep a very good level in this championship. I feel I am able to work more on details in a factory team and to at least be more consistent. I think these are the tools that the factory team is going to give me. I have full conviction in my work.”
Hubert Trunkenpolz, KTM AG Member of the board, added: “MotoGP is the best platform for global motorsports present at the moment and this is why we wanted to prolong the successful co-operation we’ve had so far for the next five years. To win the first MotoGP race in Brno with Brad Binder last summer was one of the most emotional moments of my entire motorsport lifetime and, of course, also for the company. We delivered, and it took away a lot of pressure from us. I don’t know if it happened by accident but from that time our business on a global scale went through the ceiling. I think the fans enjoyed MotoGP in 2020 but what we really missed were them at the tracks. I hope this year we will get back to something like normal. In general our short term objective is very clear: we want to finish with our four riders in the top ten regularly and be on the podium regularly. We would like to win another race to really continue with what we have achieved in 2020.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director, set out KTM’s goals: “The whole MotoGP journey so far has been a dream but the project started with a dream to become a GP winner in that class, so it is amazing to look back and see where we have come., We are really, really happy that the dream came true with these GP wins. They are a fact. They are on paper and we are definitely hungry for more. We have great staff and everybody is pushing hard. I think that is the style of KTM and the whole company: to have this new spirit with a new goal means the whole company sticks together and we do it together. It brings extra energy. All four of our riders all have incredible skills and talent otherwise they would not be in that class but then in detail they are all different and in different ways they go for their goal. All four are still riding in that very last second of motorcycle racing. We have our first wins in the pocket but now the new season is starts and everything begins from zero. I will be happy with 2021 if our riders finishing the last GP without any injuries and we can think back to some very successful races. That’s what I am looking for.”
The last words were for Mike Leitner, Race Manager, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: “Increased pressure for sure brings more motivation to the race team because all the KTM people working in this racing business are ‘built’ for pressure. This is the DNA of our sport – or for sport in general – and we’ll take this as a positive thing. For 2021 we are on the timescale. We had ideas and we had to find a good balance between what we can achieve now and between five days of testing in Doha before the season starts because we have to homologate the engine spec and the aerodynamic package there. We have the things we want for ’21 but of course people in the company are already working on stuff for the ’22 season. The plan we had for the winter tests; these parts or units are ready but what we can finally bring into the 2021 season will be decided after the five days at the Doha test. Both of our riders will get all they need to do their best in 2021."