The Bull is unleashed. Today, KTM officially unveiled their news teams and colours in new headquarters for a season that is bound to be a milestone for the Austrian manufacturer that triples the commitment passing from one to three teams, one for each class.
On stage, the six bikes that will bring the orange blood and the Red Bull colours around the world: the small Moto3 machines of Niccolò Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder, the new Moto2 that lines up Miguel Oliveira and Moto3 reigning champion Brad Binder, and the MotoGP the duo Pol Espargarò and Bradley Smith.
On stage, before them Sam Sunderland, winner of the 2017 Dakar Rally and Matthias Walkner, who was second. A good omen for the new challenge in road racing, remembering KTM’s 16th consecutive success on the toughest rally in the world.
“Being the first race of the year, winning the Dakar gives always an extra boost for the whole season”, said KTM CEO Stefan Pierer. “Rhe decision to enter MotoGP is a response to the needs of the market and to keep growing also in respect of our competitors. I spoke with Pit (Beirer) three years ago and he arranged the whole program. We started to build the infrastructures, now the project is a reality.”
“We have a lot of experience in Motorsport, but with the MotoGP we enter in a new dimension. The commitment of the whole Manufacturer has been huge”, said Beirer. “Finally road racing reflect our philosophy. In off road we have always supported the growth of our talents, remaining together in all the categories.
“This was not possible in road racing: we discovered new talents with the Red Bull Rookies Cup, we supported them in Moto3 and then we had to lose them. It was painful. This is the one of the main reasons of our commitment in the three classes. Moto3 reigning champion Brad Binder can now make a debut with us in Moto2”.
The jump into MotoGP is huge but the watchword more mentioned during the presentation is ‘no pressure’.
“The balance of the Australian test is positive”, confirms Mike Leitner, Team Manager of the MotoGP squad. “We had some issues at the debut in Valencia, but then we worked even harder in the last months and now we are going in the right direction. The feeling of the riders confirm it. We know it will be a long adventure. The biggest challenge is maybe to keep the riders motivated.”
The bull dominates on the livery as Red Bull has supported the project from the beginning. “It’s impossible not to like this bike, although the bull is still a bit wild”, confesses Pol Espargaro, “we are making progress and my feeling has improved”.
“Being a factory rider has always been my target, now my dream come true and I feel the pressure”, states Bradley Smith. “I have spent six weeks here in Austria, now I’m completely recovered and I look forward to the 2017 season.”
The Moto3 reigning world champion Brad Binder and Miguel Olivera will tackle together with KTM and the Aki Ajo team the new challenge in Moto2. In Moto3 the target is higher as the team manager Aki Ajo himself underlines: “With our records and two riders like Bendsneyder and Antonelli we can only aim high in Moto3, while in Moto2 everything is new and we cannot expect to win from the beginning.”