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V4 the only option for MotoGP - says KTM engine boss Trieb

KTM will make its official return to the MotoGP World Championship when Mika Kallio races at Valencia in the 2016 season finale and under him will be a 990 V4 engine designed by Kurt Trieb, who says that configuration was the only way to do it.

The Austrian maufacturer hasbeen in the series before with a such a motor bolted into a KR frame but this motor bears very little resemblance to that one.

“We started from scratch to try and avoid any mistakes we made back in 2005 – that’s clear. But for sure, you have to look at the old design. Anyway, I was very happy to begin such a project again and certainly it helps if you have collected some experience before,” said Trieb


“This was a strong engine which wasn’t given a chance to show its true potential. There were some problems on the original engine, for sure. It was a different time back then; we built the first five engines and then went racing with them. It was a completely crazy situation! Now we have a proper test and development plan.

“There are many advantages to go for a V4, in engine performance and mechanical reliability. I have experience with inline fours and the problems that come with those, so either way I was at ease with whatever decision was made. An inline four wasn’t considered to be a KTM characteristic. In the end we didn’t really have many discussions about what configuration to go for, but more on the angle of the Vee. A wider angle avoids the need for a balancer shaft. That sort of decision.

“There are some restrictions in building a MotoGP engine. For example, the maximum diameter of the bore is 81mm. It doesn’t make sense to build an engine that can reach 20,000rpm as the valve sizes are too small for this to gain anything. So there’s a natural maximum engine speed that matches with this bore, somewhere between 16,500-18,000rpm. We are in that range, but in addition to that you try to achieve a good power characteristic.

“For example, the slowest corner in Jerez sees the engine revs go down to 5000rpm. So if you have your maximum power at 17,500rpm for example, you need to consider a wide range of power to suit all tracks. Our first 990 GP engine really only worked above 8000rpm, so this was clearly a problem and something we have moved away from.”

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