With the addition of new crew chiefs and three new riders, including Jack Miller on the factory team, KTM is looking forward to 2023, the year in which it wants to steadily fight at the top of the MotoGP. “Just being there and being a good, organized team is no longer enough for us. We need results. We’ve made a great effort for 2023, to be better than ever,” Pit Beirer confirmed during the team presentation when they announced Jonas Folger’s entry into the test team and the return of Dani Pedrosa as a wild card.
Now, more than ever, will the development work on the RC16 be essential for the Mattighofen constructor that wasn’t very constant last year and had trouble on several tracks.
“From day one, having a strong test team has been a key element for the success of our project. Mika and Dani have done a fantastic job for us. The work of the test team really becomes a fundamental aspect when you lose concessions, because you have to develop the bike and then have the riders test it when it’s too late to make big changes,” the motorsport director of the Austrian constructor said, even if he’s rather skeptical about the course of development taken by the MotoGP.
“It’s no secret that we’ve been quite critical when it comes to development, aerodynamics, and height adjustment devices. Honestly, for us, they’re not good for the sport,” Beirer admitted. “The engine, the chassis, and the suspension of the MotoGP are already works of art. Obviously, we can add stranger or high-tech elements, but we have to pay attention to how much they affect costs and make the sport more complicated because, in the end, we have to attract a wide audience, and the public wants to see the riders battle it out and challenge each other on the track. They don’t want to see the technological battle among constructors.”
Although excited by the engineering challenge, the 50-year-old manager is concerned that technological progress could lead to a consequent decrease in overtakings which would diminish the entertainment factor.
“I think the bikes have gotten so good now that any changes we make would lead to them braking later and tackling corners faster. But where should overtaking happen in the future? Aerodynamic turbulence and other factors would make everything more difficult for the riders, so I think we’re approaching a dangerous area,” the former German rider added. “On the other hand, from a design and development aspect, we’re very happy with this regulation, and we’re ready for this new season. We’ve taken a big step forward in aerodynamic development and our lowering device works well, so we’re well on track. From an engineering point of view, we like this kind of challenge, and we’re thrilled, but I think the class needs to be vigilant about its future.”
To increase the entertainment factor, the races on the calendar will double starting this year, with the introduction of Sprint Races on Saturday, which means racing a total of 42 GPs.
“It’s clear that the pressure will be felt more on Saturday, and we know that it’ll be an exciting show, but it’ll also be more difficult for the team, and everyone will have to be ready, also when it comes to material, because we won’t be able to compromise any part that could be reused in testing, but it can’t be used in the race,” Beirer commented. “I believe that the bikes will require a different treatment, and the weekend program will have to be changed. But, in the end, we’ll have a race on Saturday that’ll be very attractive for the spectators at home and on the circuit and, of course, also for us. On the other hand, no one has a clear idea yet of what it’ll be like. We’ll have to try it out.”