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KTM the second force in MotoGP: "We won't give up until we win"

Stefan Pierer: "It took us eight years to get our first victory in the Dakar Rally and seven years in US Supercross. We will have the same patience and perseverance in MotoGP. Hubert Trunkenpolz: "Thank God we have Acosta!""

MotoGP: KTM the second force in MotoGP:

KTM was the last manufacturer to enter the MotoGP World Championship in 2017 and has a total of seven MotoGP wins to its name, in 2020, 2021 and 2022 with Binder (2x) and Oliveira (5x).

Last year, the Austrians secured second place in the Manufacturers' World Championship for the first time, and KTM also holds second place in the Manufacturers' World Championship in 2024.

Pol Espargaró led the former off-road specialist manufacturer to fifth overall in the premier class in 2020, just four points behind third-placed Alex Rins.

At the time of the announcement of its participation in MotoGP, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer made it clear that they would not be there just for the Olympic ideal, but they wanted to win the MotoGP championship one day. Therefore, winning the title had already been proclaimed as a goal for the 2021 season.

But even after Binder's fourth place in the 2023 World Championship, KTM is still unable to seriously threaten Ducati's supremacy. However, Stefan Pierer is planning for the long term and is trying to show patience. "It took us eight years to get our first victory in the Dakar Rally and seven years in US Supercross. We will have the same patience and perseverance in MotoGP," the company chief explained.

Pierer Mobility AG has an annual budget of 70 million euros for GP racing, participating in all categories from the Red Bull Rookies Cup to Moto3, Moto2 and the MotoGP class. The Austrian manufacturer is present with four brands in the Moto3 World Championship alone: KTM, GASGAS, Husqvarna and CFMOTO. In Moto2, Pierer is represented by KTM, GASGAS and Husqvarna.

When Pit Beirer took over as head of Motorsport in the spring of 2004, KTM had 79 world titles under its belt. 20 years later, the tally has risen to 341 world titles, including 181 world rider titles and 260 world manufacturer titles.

KTM has won the prestigious Dakar Rally 19 consecutive times and dominated the Moto3 World Championship with KTM and GASGAS seven times since 2012. After the Mugello GP, the Pierer Group holds nine of the ten first places in the Moto3 World Championship.
(Exception: Adrián Fernández on Leopard Honda is ninth in the world championship).

KTM won Moto3 World Championship titles in 2012 (Cortese), 2013 (Viñales), 2016 (Binder), 2020 (Arenas), 2021 (Acosta); the GASGAS-Aspar-TEAM triumphed in 2022 with Guevara. And the glorious Red Bull Ajo-KTM team won the Moto2 World Riders' Championship in 2021, 2022, and 2023 with Gardner, Augusto Fernández, and Acosta.

Now KTM is looking to catch up with the Ducati armada in the MotoGP class, but it is a tough battle.

"Lap times have improved incredibly in the last two years in MotoGP. All the bikes have become much more competitive, and if you haven't improved by a second a lap, you are now last in the standings," explained Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director.

"With KTM, we are currently the second force in MotoGP. Compared to last year, we have also improved our lap times significantly," added Hubert Trunkenpolz, Board Member of Pierer Mobility AG. "However, we are still behind Ducati because we are still missing some small details on the bike. Ducati continues to have the best package. It's obvious, we're not kidding ourselves. But we will keep pushing and not give up until we catch up with Ducati."

"Regardless of the question about the top riders, we still have tasks to do as a factory. Pedro Acosta needs a bike that works at the level of the Ducati if he wants to compete for the world championship. With his exceptional talent, he will be able to correct some of the bike's defects, but not everything."

"The result in the Constructors' Championship is a very honest assessment of our position, as Ducati has a 101-point lead over us after the first seven Grands Prix," said Beirer, without making any excuses.

"Ducati is first, we are second, Aprilia is third, ahead of the two Japanese manufacturers."

In 2025, KTM will once again have four riders entered in MotoGP and will provide factory bikes to the Red Bull KTM Factory Team and Hervé Poncharal's GASGAS Factory Racing Team3. Brad Binder and rookie Pedro Acosta will be the high hopes of the official KTM Factory Team, while Enea Bastianini, third in the 2022 World Championship, has been confirmed for GASGAS as the only rider so far. Whoever the second rider will be, will have to score a podium finish in the current season, a goal that neither Jack Miller nor Augusto Fernández have achieved so far.

Meanwhile, research and development are in full swing to make the KTM RC16 even more competitive.

"In the 2022 season we realized that the times when you were half a second faster thanks to a few new components are long gone," Beirer said. "Nothing has changed from this point of view. You have to work relentlessly on every single detail of the engine, chassis, suspension, devices and electronics if you want to find a tenth or two. Engineers work on all components and in all areas. As a result, sometimes the entire vehicle is changed. In 2023, our riders had the benefit of exceptionally good front-end feel, which allowed them to brake and turn late and hard. Handling also improved, with better traction on the rear wheel. But these steps also made it easier to lose the front end and crash. We need to rethink our development and give our riders a different tool," added Beirer.

"At the moment, I see the need to work mainly on the chassis and electronics. As for the engine, we are extremely strong. But we definitely need to improve the other aspects."

While Binder and Miller have sometimes disappointed in 2024, the 20-year-old Acosta has proven to be the best MotoGP rookie since Marc Márquez in 2013. With brilliant performances on all circuits, he has scored two podiums in Portimão and Texas and holds fifth place in the World Championship. Most recently, at Mugello, Acosta finished fifth, ending up just 7.5 seconds away from race winner Bagnaia, while Binder finished 10th, losing 15.9 seconds.

Without Acosta, KTM would not be second to Ducati in the current manufacturers' championship.

"Acosta set a very high level and is a real challenge for our established MotoGP riders, Binder and Miller," said Hubert Trunkenpolz with a sigh of relief."Thank God we have Acosta!"

 

Translated by Julian Thomas

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