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Dementor
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Chris Birch: 5 things I love about the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R

Enduro legend, riding coach and now KTM ADVENTURE ambassador, Chris Birch’s daily steed of choice is the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R. Riding it constantly since its 2017 launch, the New Zealand resident spent 6000 offroad km last month so we quizzed him for his five favorite features on the most enduro of travel enduros.

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Chris Birch (NZL) © A. Barbanti

Chris Birch is arguably the man responsible for showing the world the extreme possibilities and agility of the multi-cylinder KTM ADVENTUREs. He’s ridden them all; from 950 to 1290 and everything in between (including the upcoming KTM 790 ADVENTURE R) but his favorite of all time is the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R.

Last month, Chris clocked up an astonishing 6000 offroad riding kilometers on this bike, coaching schools all over the world, attending KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES in Australia, Sardinia and the United Kingdom and shooting this incredible Coastal Adventure video in his homeland of New Zealand.

He’s also competed on the bike in the 2017 Hellas Rally; a seven-day navigation rally in Greece in which he cruised to the M5 (adventure bike) class victory and finishing an amazing sixth overall against more than 150 racers, competing mainly on 450 Rally machines.

Having just added Wales to the list of countries he’s ridden the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R in, alongside Peru, Italy, Ecuador, Panama, Japan, New Zealand, Indonesia, Canada, USA, Australia, Uruguay, Greece, and England, we sat down with Chris at the Sweetlamb complex at the KTM UK ADVENTURE RALLY and asked him for his five favorite features on the 1050cc orange-framed machine.

From 1190 to 1090 …
“Going from the 1190 R to the 1090 R, the latter was everything that I had needed to modify my 1190 R to be,” Chris tells us. “It was like KTM R&D listened to my every wish! Before I’d needed to change the wheels to stronger ones because I’d damage them, and the suspension was also improved, close to how I modify mine.”

“With the stock bike now, all I do is add some flatter EXC bars to suit my standing position as I’m tall, I also use a clutch lever off a KTM 200 EXC as it is a bit shorter, fit some Mitas tires and re-valve the forks to make them firmer on their initial movement. The final thing is to drop it down a tooth on the front sprocket, which makes it really easy in the tight offroad sections and helps save my license on the road as the top speed is reduced!”

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Chris Birch (NZL) © C. Wood

1. The engine
“The first thing when you have to talk about on a 1000cc plus motorcycle is the engine! I love how much torque it has got; you can really punch it up climbs and obstacles – like a trials bike! You can also be two or three gears wrong and it will just kinda work it all out for you.”

“As for the ride modes, I leave my bike in street mode all the time and never change it. ‘Sport’ is a bit too aggressive for me and as for ‘Offroad’ without trying to sound like a dick, I like having the full 125hp all the time. The offroad mode is really good and a valuable tool for most people when riding this bike offroad, but I’m greedy for the power.”

“Another reason I never change the ride modes as I like my bike to feel like it does all the time. Like, that’s what it will do and what happens when I crack the throttle in this situation. So, I really know how it will react because I’m so familiar with it. If I play around with the modes too much, it’s like learning three different bikes.”

2. Epic drifts
“A combination of the chassis balance, suspension and engine performance I really love how this bike sits in a corner. My favorite thing to do on this bike is slide on a gravel road from corner to corner doing big, smooth drifts.”

“All the wheelies and jumps and stuff are great for making videos and pictures, but if I’m going out just to play on it for me, I’ll be just going out to make big power slides from one corner to the next.”

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KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R © M. Chytka

3. Adaptability
“It’s not really a feature as such, but it kinda is. But the most impressed I’ve ever been with the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R was on a trip to Japan.”

“I’d finished my first batch of riding schools and then my wife, Monica, flew in. We then put the luggage on and spent five days touring around Japan. When we got to the next riding venue, they had an enduro cross track there. So, I kicked her off the back along with the luggage and started riding the track. I could jump the doubles and clear the log matrix on the same bike we’d just been touring around on in complete comfort. That really, really impressed me.”

4. The range of use
“I suppose it merges a little bit into the last feature in a way, but what I mean is the fact that I can leave my house and start having fun straight away; I don’t have to mess around by loading it on a trailer it or putting it in van.”

“From my place, I can connect four of my favorite riding areas all into one loop. Which is really cool. When I leave Wales later, we’ll be looking to find some interesting routes back. It’s just a bike that makes you want to explore and it does that with ease – on and offroad.”

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KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R © M. Chytka

5. Noise
“I love the way it sounds. I don’t rip the baffle out of the KTM PowerParts Akrapovič silencer or remove the catalytic converter, like some do. My bike isn’t particularly loud as I don’t want it particularly loud, but I really just love that LC8 twin-cylinder sounds in all situations. My daughter calls my 1090 R ‘Roary’ because when we go for a ride together and I give it some gas it’s the bike that says ‘roar’. So, I like it and she does too!”

Photos: A. Barbanti | C. Wood | M. Chytka


Dementor

Drifting

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Drifting

Spectacular drifts, dust, show: Motorrad Magazine racer Yasmin Poppenreiter and her KTM 450 SX-F defend the honor of the motorcycle on the dirt track against former rally world champion Andreas Aigner in a Mazda MX-5 RF.

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© www.kurtpinter.com

Dirt track racing is booming, and not just in the USA, where the spectacular flat track races in the oval are as popular as a juicy burger with onion rings. The rest of the world is also slowly becoming aware of how exciting, action-packed and enjoyable to watch this sport is. Not only that, everyone gets to take home a free souvenir: a layer of dust on their clothes and hats: all part and parcel of getting up close and personal with the world of motorsport.

The Austrian star of the flat track in recent years is more than just a pretty face: Yasmin Poppenreiter, 24, is not only taking part in her fifth season of flat track racing, she also has a number of wins to show for it. Last year she won the Austrian Motorsport Federation (AMF) trophy. As there is no official national championship, this trophy is considered the unofficial title. It’s worth mentioning Yasmin does not compete in a women’s class, but instead against men, who get just as lost in her trail of dust as the spectators.

Yasmin, who has been a part of the Motorrad Magazine Racing Team since last year, has already got to the top ten in the world championships. That meant it was time for a new challenge, which Motorrad Magazine provided by organizing this head-to-head. “What do you think about competing against a car in a flat track competition?” we asked her. “Any time,” she responded, full of enthusiasm as through as though her sights were already trained on the apex of the corner.

What we didn’t tell her was the name of her opponent: 33-year old Austrian Andi Aigner. If anyone knows how to drift without any unnecessary seconds off the clock, it’s him. Andi, who hails from Styria in southern Austria, gained his first rally world championship title in the near-standard class ten years ago, with race wins in Argentina, Greece and Turkey: none of which are known for their lack of dust!

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© www.kurtpinter.com

We chose a Mazda MX-5 RF as Andi’s racing vehicle for a number of reasons, most importantly so that we could create as much of a level playing field as possible. It had to be rear-wheel drive and the MX-5 is not exactly a monster, even in its most powerful configuration with 160 HP, but its excellent balance, sporty straightforwardness and above all its low weight at just 1130 kilos combine to make an exciting package. The only concession: at the request of the rally champion we fitted winter tires for better traction on the gravel.

Yasmin’s racing machine was also near-standard. Based on a KTM 450 SX-F, the chassis was shortened, and the handlebars raised. 19-inch wheels with special dirt track tires were also fitted to the bike. Oh yes, one more thing: the front brakes are removed for dirt track racing. No need for brakes when you’re thundering towards a corner on a 68 HP, 100 kilo READY TO RACE machine at 160 kilometers an hour. This is not for the faint-hearted.

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© www.kurtpinter.com

The showdown drew closer. We found ourselves at the Speedway Arena Eggendorf, run by the ÖAMTC-Zweigverein Wiener Neustadt, an affiliated society of the Austrian car, motorcycle and touring club (ÖAMTC). The 300 meter long track regularly hosts races with training runs every Saturday! The conditions were perfect, the sky was blue, the sun was out.

Excitement was shining as brightly as the sun in Yasmin’s eyes. But Andi and the Mazda MX-5 RF got to go first. They took it in turns to race, as the stones kicked up by Yasmin’s rear wheel would damage the Mazda’s pristine paintwork. Andi was allowed to do three laps, then another three (flying) laps against the clock.

Even just the first few corners were breathtaking – Andi saw precisely the line he needed to take, stones flying out behind him as he hurtled round the track in the Mazda MX-5. Yasmin seemed skeptical. Then the lap times came in. There was a difference of only 40 hundredths of a second between the laps, the best time being 17.69 seconds.

The former world champion summarized the experience: “The Mazda really surprised me, it drove much better than I expected, with much more traction. I had excellent drift control as the conditions were ideal for how the MX-5 handles. The precise, direct steering also helped a lot. And as for the power– it was more than sufficient, you wouldn’t be able to use more here anyway.”

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© www.kurtpinter.com

Now it was Yasmin’s turn. The KTM single roared into life, then sank its teeth into the oval. Anyone standing too close to the track at the exit of the bend would have well-advised to put a helmet on too – that’s how far the gravel was flying as Yasmin twisted the throttle. Just watching was enough to take your breath away, especially when she slid into the bends, pushing herself and the bike to the limit.

But, the only thing that mattered here was time: Yasmin also clocked fairly constant times, but her best time – 19.24 – was still a good way behind Andi in the Mazda. “The track is too dry,” claimed Yasmin, equally as drily.

Second attempt. Hanson Schruf quickly dispatched the sprinkler vehicle for a turn round the course to dampen the track, that up to then bore close comparison with the Atacama Desert.

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© www.kurtpinter.com

So, the process started over, with Andi going first again. He posted very similar times, as there was not that much room for improvement to begin with. It was a different story for Yasmin, however. She easily turned the better adhesion on the track into faster times – and ultimately clocked a phenomenal lap of 17.92 seconds. A mere 23 hundredths of a second behind Andi Aigner in the Mazda MX-5. Merely the blink of an eye.

With a twinkle in his eye, Andi celebrated his win in this unusual head-to-head: “I’ve taken part in a couple of head-to-heads between cars and bikes – this is the first that I’ve won on four wheels,” the event manager and freelance ÖAMTC driving instructor grinned.

“It was close,” laughed Yasmin. “We’ll take the front brakes out of the Mazda next time to make sure it’s really an even contest. Then we’ll see who’s faster!”

Photos: www.kurtpinter.com
Video: www.motorrad-magazin.at


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The adventure never ends

The KTM BLOG takes a look back at the second ever European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY when 150 hardcore KTM ADVENTURE riders descended on the island of Sardinia at the end of June. The event also featured the first qualifying event for the Ultimate Race, a preview of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R and we discovered why the wheels for this event will always keep turning.

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© C. Wood

The sun may have set on the second annual European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY and the island fallen quiet from the rumble of LC8 engines, but the memories and friendships made in Sardinia will last a lifetime.

Journeying there from as far as Columbia and Russia, the beautiful Italian island didn’t disappoint the 150 hardcore KTM ADVENTURE riders from 24 nations who attended. Sure, there were crashes, broken bikes, injured pilots and navigational errors, but just outside the town of Olbia a new community was formed who rallied around each other, supporting its brothers and sisters with fixing tires, helping them get their bike through a technical stage or simply fetching them a beer from the bar at the end of a long day. And then pushing them into the swimming pool …

Over three main days of riding, 13 groups of riders spread out in combinations of ability and discipline to explore and tackle the winding trails and breathtaking roads in the north of the island. When each rider returned and checked in at the ‘Home Base’ at the Geovillage complex, beneath the dust-covered and often sweaty faces at the end of each day were big smiles and even bigger stories to tell over a well-earned cold one.

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© C. Wood

As well as water, beer, Red Bull and shade from the sun, the ‘Home Base’ was the central hub of information for riders and provided a place to work on bikes with support from KTM mechanics, a tire purchase and changing facility from Continental and a retail presence for KTM PowerParts and KTM PowerWear from the Alghero-based KTM dealer, Travaglini Motori.

Language barriers and age gaps – riders from 20 to 60 years of age participated – didn’t prevent these individual offroad and street groups from soon forming strong bonds. Within the group instructions, timings, photos, videos were shared and sometimes locations at the event are still pinging with updates from riders taking the long route home as part of a holiday, sharing awesome riding routes or planning the next adventure.

Led by KTM staff and local expert guides, the offroad routes covered on average 150 kilometers per day across the three days. With the only rain on the island reserved for the street groups (blamed on the British tour guide …), even the straightforward hot and dusty trails created a challenge. Regular stops were needed for water, breathers, photo opportunities, fixing punctures, avoiding the wildlife (tortoises, mainly) and for the incredible lunch venues.

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© C. Wood

The street groups were treated to arguable the most incredible riding to be found in Europe. Averaging 350 kilometers per day, away from the coastal routes the roads provided a quiet playground for the street-tire shod LC8 powered machines as they took advantage of the grippy surface and breathtaking surroundings. Word soon spread about the quality of the road riding and for the final day, knobblies were swapped for street tires by some offroad riders and a third road group quickly formed.

Peter Ziegler, responsible for social media and community projects at KTM, was core to the planning of the event. “We know that our KTM ADVENTURE-riding customers are a special type of rider with high demands on how they want to use their machines. But from the feedback we’ve had, we delivered on that with the trails and street rides offered here and it’s great to see the bikes being used exactly how KTM intended and at the same time seeing new friendships formed. I’m not sure how we better this next year!”

ULTIMATE RACE
Aside from just the chance to explore the island on different terrains, the European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY also provided the first round of Qualifying for the Ultimate Race. If you don’t know what that is, check out this video …

But this ‘event within the event’ will happen at each of the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES, which take place in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and USA. The top two from each qualifying event riding a twin cylinder KTM ADVENTURE bike will be given the opportunity to compete at Merzouga in the Ultimate Race.

The scale of this prize is huge as it is fully supported with flights, accommodation, entry, bike, race service and more by KTM; the winners will not be disappointed. They will also enjoy coaching from some of the world’s finest and fastest bike athletes, with Quinn Cody and Chris Birch. For such a big prize the competition will be tough.

Across four days in Sardinia, Ultimate Race hopefuls had to compete in special challenges. Riding wise, it wasn’t just about outright speed as technique on and off the bike was tested. Orientation and navigational challenges were also thrown down, mental and physical strength pushed as well as the ability to fix a bike in the field. At the end of the qualifying, Sebastian Blum, Germany, was the winner followed up by Stefano Sassaro from Italy to book their place at the Merzouga Rally in 2019.

After winning, Sebastian Blum said: “I was a hard enduro rider who discovered adventure riding to be able see and travel to offroad terrain not normally accessible. I was 100% sure I wanted to attend the KTM ADVENTURE RALLY because I wanted to see the tracks in Sardinia. I had everything prepared so I was also ready to participate in the Ultimate Race and it was a lot of fun. It’s a dream for any enduro or adventure rider to try a rally and I want to see how high I can come at Merzouga.”

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© C. Wood

ADVENTURE: A NEW PATH
Fresh from the Australian KTM ADVENTURE RALLY, New Zealand’s Chris Birch was on hand as KTM’s ADVENTURE ambassador and rider coach for the KTM Ultimate Race. Another big reason for Chris to be in Sardinia was to give the 150 KTM ADVENTURE-owning attendees at the rally an exclusive first public introduction of the upcoming KTM 790 ADVENTURE R – a break from traditional as it is usually journalists who get the first look at new bikes!

Despite being an all-black prototype version with some rough edges as the bike is still in its development process, the potential was clear to be seen as Birch rode it in anger on multiple days of the Rally on the enduro track and on the many trails before being formally introduced in a presentation with a question and answer session afterwards.

“I felt like I was cheating on my KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R by riding the new KTM 790 ADVENTURE R!”, Chris Birch says seriously. “I can’t say too much about the bike at the moment as KTM are still in the development process, but this isn’t a bike to replace the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R or KTM 1290 SUPER ADVENTURE R but further boost their ADVENTURE range. It rides completely different, but the chassis is very capable and feels incredibly light.”

“It’s a lot of fun and the engine is real peach. Personally, I have to ride it a different way to the KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R, but I think for a lot of people the low seat h and easy maneuverability will make this popular with riders who want to start growing their offroad ability and still have a great touring machine. I can’t wait for the finished product arriving next year.”

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© A. Barbanti

And it seemed that feeling was echoed by many of the other riders in attendance who scrabbled to sit on the bike or take a photo of it. Stay tuned for more information in November at the EICMA event in Milan …

So, not exactly a relaxing holiday, but the 2018 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY provided incredible riding set against stunning scenery, an exclusive look at a future KTM model, the chance to improve riding and maintenance skills and the opportunity to win a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime prize. Every time the attendees put on their official t-shirt from the event or they receive a message from a fellow member they will remember these unforgettable experiences. The memories they shared with fellow ´orange bleeders´ will raise a smile as well as thoughts on where the next adventure will take place.

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© A. Barbanti

Photos: Chippy Wood | Alessio Barbanti
Video: Eros Girotti/Filmer Force Productions


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5 mins to talk the future of KTM motocross bikes

We put KTM Product Manager Offroad Joachim Sauer on the spot about where the SX range could head in the future. Electronics? Electric? Perfectionism?

Confusing. At the launch of their 2019 SX range the KTM engineers and project leaders spoke about how the newest motocross machines were close to “optimum” and the performance and design of the bikes represented something of a creative peak for the R&D department. At the same time as the 2019 machinery was being warmed up and taken to the track by journalists and testers for the first time, KTM Product Manager Offroad Joachim Sauer admitted that work was fully underway for the next generation!

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Joachim Sauer (GER) © Sebas Romero/Marco Campelli

The reviews and innovations of the 2019 SXs have been predictably outstanding. Rather than asking Sauer to wax lyrical about the edges, trims and steps-forward that KTM have made we decided to grill him about where the range can really move next. The catalog already boasts a segment-leading power-to-weight ratio, and handling on the KTM 450 SX-F in particular has never been stronger.

In truth it must be a hard search for Sauer and his crew. How do you improve a selection of products that are already hitting operational hs? The portfolio might involve six bikes between 125-450cc and 2-stroke to 4-stroke so there is still scope for discovering and thought but KTM have been relentless in their search of gains with each model (a priority for the 2-strokes was even to reduce vibration further). We suggest the SXs are becoming like the latest iPhones: it is becoming trickier and trickier to find significant ways to raise the bar. Sauer raises an eyebrow but does not disagree.

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© Sebas Romero/Marco Campelli

So, to get a deeper understanding of what the future of SX models could look like, we asked Sauer for some answers …

Jochi, it feels like it must be more difficult than ever to make progress with the SXs …
“This is exactly the problem. We work very closely with racing and the professional guys – we are READY TO RACE after all – and even if you ask the MXGP riders ‘what do we change next?’ they cannot really give you an answer. Instead you need to make a suggestion. If you go with a longer, shorter or lighter frame then it is hard to predict whether they will like it. I think today there is no real direction in which way we can go because I think we are really close to perfect.”

So, does the future means something more radical?
“We will stick to our concept. We won’t turn the cylinder around or something like that. We think our concept now is very good and I don’t see any radical changes in the near future. We are already working on the next generation and tests have been going on for a year. Such a project has to be finished far ahead of the launch. It is a lot of detail work to find out where we can go with the frame and inside the same concept. There are a lot of ideas coming in and we have a lot thanks to a close co-operation with the MotoGPTM department and their influence is coming into motocross. There is some space to improve, but today I don’t see much need to improve.”

As engineers is it difficult to slow down or stand still?
“Our guys never stand still and they always have ideas and things to try. There will be another generation of SX and it will be another step forward. We have enough time to do another intense development and we have a very experienced crew in combination with motorsport. You need to have a super-competitive bike for motorsport but it should also be rideable and usable for an amateur and to find this balance is always a challenge but we have experience with that.”

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KTM 450 SX-F © R.Schedl/KTM

Does the future of motocross bikes involve more electronics?
“In this field there will be more and more … but right now the FIM doesn’t allow too much electronics in competition. We are working on the next evolution of the EMS system and in general there are thoughts about ride by wire so we don’t have a throttle cable any more … but the FIM doesn’t allow it yet. If all the companies convince the FIM this is the future then I’m sure we’ll see it eventually. Also, I think electronics with suspension could be something of the future. So far everything has kept quite traditional when it comes to motocross.”

What would be the benefits of ride by wire in motocross?
“You can control the power delivery much better. If you open to full throttle then the bike accelerates according to traction and so on. We use maps now but we are not as free as we would be with ride by wire. You’d be able to have real traction control for instance, but I don’t know if it is necessary for motocross but it could be an option or you could put a switch that avoids any slip. There are so many options. As KTM have a wide range of bikes in many fields and we are working on that stuff and if the guys believe there would be a benefit for motocross then we hope the rules might one day change to permit that.”

Is the technology and knowledge in MotoGPTM helping with this area?
“Yeah, absolutely. Not just in electronics but in data recording and then getting a result out of that recording. There is no point in having heaps of data if you cannot read and interpret them. There is a lot of feedback coming from MotoGPTM.”

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KTM 450 SX-F © R.Schedl/KTM

Overall does electronics swallow a lot of budget? Can it really be cost-effective with MX?
“I don’t see ride by wire coming in five years but I’m 100% sure that within ten years there will be no throttle cable any more. In ten years there might not be any noise either. It is something we have to face. The electric department will come more into the game for motocross in the mid-term future. So far offroad is not ready yet. As soon as the car industry really moves ahead then motorcycles will follow. There will be a certain delay, but it will happen.”

Photos: Sebas Romero | Marco Campelli | R.Schedl/KTM


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3D printing: the future of motorcycle construction?

Posted in Bikes, Riding

KTM R&D are moving even faster in their development of new motorcycles and components thanks to 3D printing. Can the technology really work for the rigorous tests and standards of road bikes in the second decade of the 21st century?

Well, the answer would seem to be ‘yes’. KTM recently unveiled their 2019 SX range of bikes at a comprehensive and detailed launch in Rome, Italy. One of the key innovations with the KTM 250 SX 2-stroke in particular involved the use of a printer to advance ideas and tests with the exhaust pipe.

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Michael Viertlmayr (AUT) 2018 © Sebas Romero/Marco Campelli

Head of Engine Offroad & Motocross R&D, Michael Viertlmayr, explained how KTM arrived at the 2019 version that was created to improve the total packaging of the head pipe and to increase the necessary ground clearance of the vehicle. As well as 3D printing KTM also called on their growing experience with MotoGPTM to install oval cross sections to achieve their performance goals. Of course, having the theory is one thing; holding the proof in their hands and testing it on the bike was another.

“We have an innovation design cycle,” Viertlmayr says. “Everything starts with a basic concept or an idea and in this case, it was to make the head pipe smaller in size or slimmer. So, we knew about the oval cross sections and being able to wrap the pipe closer around the frame. With a 3D design we go into a simulation-and-calculation phase, and we are one of the very few companies in the world that are able to calculate the very complex thermodynamics of a 2-stroke engine which is much more difficult than a 4-stroke.”

“If we are happy with the result of the calculation phase then we go into the first prototype,” he continues. “If we are not satisfied with the results we go into another loop with the design department. If the calculation results are promising we print the segments, weld them together and we have a full working READY TO RACE prototype head pipe.”

“We can go on the testbed and track with our test riders and collect feedback and numbers. If we are happy with the design then we go to the second prototype stage, if not then we go back to calculation phase.”

“In the second stage we are nearing the production phase; we have the same weld and shell layout – the shells are already made of stamped material for what you’ll see on the production bike. The pipes are still welded by hand and not by robot as on the later production pipes. We do referencing with the first prototype and durability testing for the welding and weld design. If the results are good then we can release the production tools and after a six-month lead time we have the first production pipes in our hands.”

“The production pipes are referenced again and have to work in exactly the same way as the first prototype and we have to do excessive durability testing to ensure the quality.”

“All-in-all it takes about eighteen months from the basic concept to the finished product, which is twice as quick and ten times more accurate than it was in the past and this has been a big improvement for us. The simulation and calculation tools in combination with rapid prototyping saves us a lot of time and effort.”

Idea 3D design © KTM

3D printing has slowly been gaining credence and popularity since the early 1980s with the evolution of raw materials and the actual printing machinery, as well as the capabilities of computer aided design (CAD) to ensure the finest detail is accurately reproduced. The methodology has increased in quality and efficiency to the point where vehicles, firearms and even surgical procedures have been able to embrace and use the technique.

It still seems unreal that 3D printing can be done with metals and materials at a high enough resistance to be used on a motorcycle, especially an SX model! The resource is only gaining more prominence and importance though for KTM. R&D have four 3D printers; three for plastic components and one for metal.

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3D printer (plastic) © KTM

“The volume of parts for R&D is growing constantly year by year,” insists Viertlmayr. “It started with just a few and using quite low-quality plastic but the materials involved have improved drastically. Not only can we print high-quality plastic now but also aluminum parts like a cylinder head for instance, which is pretty cool. We can print in different steel grades and are able to prototype ‘heavily loaded’ parts like rocker arms as well.”

The advantages are obvious. “It is just a massive time-saving for us in development,” he says. “It takes less than a week to print out the segments for an exhaust prototype and that alone is a gain of two-three months. It really makes life easier for us. The printed parts are fully operational. They are not only design parts; you can go on the test bench and on the track with them and that is amazing: a huge step forward.”

The countdown begins to the day a full KTM is one day squirted out of a computer and a new chapter of manufacturing dominates the halls in Mattighofen.

Photos: Sebas Romero | Marco Campelli | KTM


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Interview of the Month: Rene Hofer – History on the horizon? A significant orange story in the making

Meet sixteen-year-old Rene Hofer: a burgeoning talent in the motorcycle racing world and a special rider who could reach a very special milestone …

In 2017 quite a few bike racing fans almost witnessed the dream. When Andrea Dovizioso led and fought for the MotoGPTM crown the sport almost had the sight of an Italian rider victorious on an Italian machine. It is an endearing narrative that has escaped the FIM Motocross World Championship for decades; no Japanese, Swedish or Italian athlete has come close with a respective brand.

In fact, a ‘home hero achievement’ is something that KTM have been patiently waiting for in the principle class since Heinz Kinigadner in 1984 and 1985 (recent Dakar winner Matthias Walkner owned the now-defunct MX3 category in 2012).

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Rene Hofer (AUT) Saint Jean d’Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer

Although there are a number of elements that go into construction of a championship campaign – excellence, form, confidence, equipment and luck – Rene Hofer is promisingly poised to start that journey. The sixteen-year-old Austrian (and KTM Junior Team rider) has been the standout racer in the EMX125 European Championship this year. The series is the first of two rungs on the ladder to Grand Prix (EMX250 comes next) and the teenager is stamping his mark all over the competition in just his second campaign.

“When I started with Rene two and a half years ago he was a little kid on an 85 but already at that time I found out he is very strong in his head,” evaluates KTM Junior Team Manager and former racer Didi Lacher. “He doesn’t care if it is muddy, hot, cold: he delivers. That’s good for a kid his age because normally youngsters make a lot of mistakes. He is ‘there’ all the time.”

Hofer is no late bloomer. He was already on the outskirts of KTM’s radar as a youth and in 2016 scooped three titles with 85cc World and European Championship wins as well as the German ADAC Junior Cup. Now he is the clear leader of EMX125 – a eight-round contest run at MXGP Grands Prix – and celebrated his first overall victories this year. Although the path is fraught and motocross is typically unpredictable and harsh on even the purest ambitions there is a vibe of great hope around #11. “I think he has a really bright future,” says Lacher. “I only hope he stays healthy and goes step by step.”

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Rene Hofer (#11, AUT) KTM 125 SX Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer

We asked for a rundown on Rene from the starlet himself …

Like many kids I have my Dad to blame!
“My father was racing motocross and quads and bought me a bike when I was three and a half years old. I started doing some little races when I was five and I basically grew up with the sport, moved through different bikes and now we are here. I was doing other things, like playing football … but motocross takes a lot of time to travel to races so it had to go. In my free time in the winter I do some skiing. That’s my hobby. I’m not doing any races on the snow but I have a pretty good level. As an Austrian you learn that quite early; almost everyone does it! My Dad and Didi give tips. My Dad stays quite calm and tries not to be over the top. I can imagine that is difficult as a father but he is very helpful and gives good motivation.”

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Didi Lacher (GER) & Rene Hofer (AUT) Pietramurata (ITA) 2018 © Ray Archer

Motocross is not the biggest sport in my country … but I don’t mind.
“I’m from Upper Austria, Alberndof, near Linz. We don’t have many tracks around. The official KTM test track is an option but we don’t have any sand tracks so that means a lot of kilometers to find one! Austria is a beautiful country in my opinion and I’m proud to be from there. I don’t think it helps me that KTM is an Austrian company; it is a big international firm, and in the end it always comes down to making good results. If you ride well then you’ll have the chance.”

KTM found me … now I want to find all I can in KTM.
“In 2016 I got those three titles and was already coming under the KTM umbrella. When you know you have that support then it helps with the pressure because you know you’ll get the chance and the equipment to really do your best. It means you can start to think of the world championship in the future. I’m lucky that I was involved with KTM from a very young age. The help is first class. Didi is not only responsible for my riding but also the other things around. He has a lot of knowledge of the sport and that helps to keep improving.”

Pressure?
“I like that! It motivates me. Also, things like having a contract with Red Bull Austria. I can handle the attention.”

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Rene Hofer (AUT) KTM 125 SX Teutschenthal (GER) 2018 © Ray Archer

I’m learning … but I’m also still in school.
“And that means I really have to plan my days. It is still very difficult to have the time to go to the gym. Now I have a physical trainer and we try to do the best as we can around the school timetable. Sometimes I do the full school week but they support me very well and I get some free time. Of course, the grades have to be good to do that! But my marks are high and that means I can balance it all. In Austria we have to go to school until we are eighteen, so it will be challenging in the next few years. I’ll try to finish the studies but it will have to see how the racing progresses.”

EMX125 is pretty fierce competition … there are a lot of riders just trying to qualify.
“The level is really high. The whole of Europe is looking at EMX125 and it is the way to move up in the sport. It is not like domestic series’ where the French race in France, Italians in Italy; this is everybody and the best in Europe. It’s good for the young riders to be at MXGP. They can see – even touch – the future with the tracks and how rough they get; that is challenging for a young rider, especially the first season or so, but then they grow up with it.”

I’m already racing a KTM 250 SX-F as well …
“I first rode it last autumn, I’ve won an ADAC German Championship race and I’ve done some Austrian races so I’m getting used to it. We still have some issues to fix but I’m making progress with it. Next year I will be ready, maybe for EMX250. To be a GP rider is very exciting but it feels far away. Going further with KTM is exciting but I don’t have that much influence! That’s down to Didi and the plan the management have. I just have to do my best on the track and see how that plays out. It would be really challenging to jump into MX2. If we had a good winter it might be possible … but it is very far away.”

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Rene Hofer (AUT) KTM 125 SX Kegums (LAT) 2018 © Ray Archer

You cannot beat having confidence on your side.
“To win at a Grand Prix is ‘another feeling’. It is hard to describe how much it motivates for you for the next race. It is the total opposite to maybe having a bad weekend when it becomes hard to go to bed and you cannot wait for the next weekend to put it right. You start a new race on a different track. When you win it’s a new challenge, the same when you lose.”

The final word should perhaps come from the man that sees Hofer on a constant basis and is the principal guiding light. Didi Lacher may know Rene’s weaknesses well (“he still needs some consistency with his starts … although I have to say these are better on the 4-stroke compared to the 2-stroke”) but he also knows the ‘commodity’ that KTM, Red Bull and even Austria have on their hands.

“Rene’s strengths are his condition, his mentality and his family – nice, quiet and down-to-earth people – along with the support of KTM Motorsport. I think Austria will have a really good GP rider again. I think he has the potential to be at the front of the world championship. If he improves like he has in the last two years then that will be soon.”

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Rene Hofer (AUT) Pietramurata (ITA) 2018 © Ray Archer

Photos: Ray Archer


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KTM 790 DUKE: A mountain to climb

After setting the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb outright motorcycle record in 2017 with the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, KTM and Chris Fillmore return on June 24 with the new KTM 790 DUKE. Their goal – the Middleweight Division win and lap record. Ahead of this mountainous challenge, Chris talked to KTM BLOG.

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Chris Fillmore (USA) KTM 790 DUKE © Brapp Snapps Media

There are a lot of challenging events that a motorcycle can be pointed at, but the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has got to be up there with the most insane.

The ‘Race to the Clouds’ is an annual invitational automobile and motorcycle hill climb to the summit of Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in Colorado, USA. Celebrating its 102-year birthday in 2018, the PPHC is 12.42-miles and 156 corners of high-altitude, high-intensity challenge of man and machine. There’s little room for error to make it to the 14,115 feet finish line. And that’s a stark reality of this event.

Last year, KTM stormed to the outright course record along with the Heavyweight class and overall motorcycle win when former AMA Superbike racer, Chris Fillmore, piloted his KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R to a time of 9:49.625. If you haven’t already seen it, watch this video …

As the READY TO RACE company, KTM thrives on new challenges – often coupled with a motivated racer like Fillmore. The idea to return to the mountain with the new KTM 790 DUKE to try and clinch the Middleweight Division win and course record soon had hearts within the company pumping orange blood with excitement.

The Middleweight class is open to 2- or 4-stroke bikes of 1 to 4 cylinders with a displacement of 501-850cc. The KTM 790 DUKE’s LC8c parallel twin engine comes in at 799cc, punching out 105hp and 87 ft-lb of torque. But with the huge rise in elevation over the course – beginning with a start line at 9000 feet – means there’s about a 3% reduction in performance for every 1,000 feet of altitude. Let alone the physical stress on the rider.

The Middleweight record was set in 2017 by Codie Vahsholtz, clocking 10:34.967 on a Husqvarna Supermoto. More impressive is that also last year, Davey Durelle was less than half a second behind with the Lightweight class record and he’s stepping up to the Middleweight division in 2018.

“Well, we could have gone back with the 1290 and tried to go even faster, but with the new KTM 790 DUKE arriving in North America later this year, we thought we’d give that a go and try and make more history,” Michigan-born Chris Fillmore tells us in his understated, laidback tone.

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Chris Fillmore (USA) KTM 790 DUKE © Brapp Snapps Media

We caught up with 31-year old Chris on his way to work at KTM North America in California after returning from the Pikes Peak official ‘tire test’. Seat time has been limited for the #11 after getting the bike later than planned, so this important test was his final chance to get the setup perfect ahead of the event, beginning June 18 with the race held on June 24.

“There’s definitely a lot of competition this year in all classes and Davey is already going well,” Chris explains. “I think course records will be broken this year – well, hopefully not my outright record – but I’m hoping to win the Middleweight class with a new record and try to put it on the box in the motorcycle overall class. I guess we shall see!”

KTM didn’t design the KTM 790 DUKE to be a track weapon, but as the sportmotorcycle manufacturer that creates every bike in the READY TO RACE style, it didn’t take much to make ‘The Scalpel’ even sharper.

“The stock bike is already on a high level, I know, because I tested it on track in Spain with Jeremy McWilliams against competitor bikes which was very encouraging,” Chris says almost surprised. “We took the stock machine and raided the KTM PowerParts catalog, adding some Wave brake discs, rearsets, a single seat and some other bling. Along with those, we removed the lights, threw in some different spring rates for the suspension, different tires, a special full Akrapovič system and the Brembo master cylinder from the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. After one day of testing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, I was only two seconds off my fastest time on the 1290!”

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KTM 790 DUKE © Bryan Mills

Testing on short circuits was one thing, but after the tire test at Pikes Peak – held over two days with the course split in half – Chris quickly discovered that a smaller bike required a much different riding style. In fact, a much more committed one.

“That was the big thing I was surprised about testing,” Chris explains. “This new bike is awesome; so agile and so easy flipping it from side to side. But I guess I could be a bit lazier on the 1290 and use all that power and torque and then just brake hard. With the KTM 790 DUKE I can carry much more corner speed and I’m going to need that if I want to get the class record and challenge for the outright podium.”

Chris points out that the middle section of the course – a lot of first to third gear switchbacks – is where he notices the power deficit between the 1290 and 790 more, requiring further commitment to make up the time. He’s got 20mph less top speed than the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, so with less power the risks are almost increased as Fillmore will need to ask more from the front tire. Not ideal, with sheer drops surrounding parts of the course …

“All the heat is on the sides of tire after riding, none in the center. Which says a lot,” says Chris. “I need to be smoother. Less aggressive with the bike. I have to be a bit more methodical, think about things and concentrate on corner speed but I’m limited on grip, so don’t want to push the front.”

“Last year, my testing times weren’t the fastest, but why I think I did good in the race was that I was consistent across the whole distance and course. With a whole year under my belt, I know the course a bit better – especially the bottom part which is a lot of fourth and fifth gear corners. The 790 will be well at home there.”

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Chris Fillmore (USA) KTM 790 DUKE © Brapp Snapps Media

With the bike arriving in the US later this year, Chris is fortunate to be ahead of his countrymen in spending a lot of time with the KTM 790 DUKE. So, what does he like the most?

“I like the handling. It’s strong point and it feels like a small bike; compact and maneuverable. Even pulling it off the stand and moving it around the garage is easy. I like the way it looks, too. At first, I wasn’t a fan of how it looks going from concept to production, but now I like it more than the 1290.”

Photos: Brapp Snapps Media | Bryan Mills
Video: KTM


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Malagrotta: The house of Cairoli

Take a trip to the ‘source’ of nine FIM Motocross World Championships and where Tony Cairoli was able to become an MXGP legend.

“I first rode this track at the end of 2003 and since then a lot of laps every year; I never counted … but it must be so many thousands …” Tony Cairoli takes a wistful look out and towards the peak of the small hill where the bulk of the Malagrotta hard-pack is sprawled.

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Malagrotta (ITA) © Marco Campelli/Sebas Romero

The 32-year-old MXGP star has opened the gates to his test track and a facility he co-runs with Red Bull KTM Team Manager Claudio De Carli for the 2019 KTM SX launch. The circuit is located west of the center of Rome “just five minutes away” he optimistically says, forgetting about the Italian capital’s traffic.

Malagrotta welcomes not only two large groups of journalists and testers but also AMA ace Ryan Dungey, who enthusiastically takes to the course on several of the new SX-Fs (450, 350 & 250) and SXs (250, 150 & 125). The hard ground at the top that houses various turns and jumps (an ‘orange-painted’ bar sits next to the start straight that has been taken over by KTM’s technical and hospitality setup for the event) before a dramatic slope plunges downhill and into a rough sandy section. The split means that Cairoli and his Italian team effectively have two tracks in one.

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Ryan Dungey (USA) © Marco Campelli/Sebas Romero

Although temporary residence in Belgium at the start of his career was necessary for training and to master the characteristics of sandy terrain, Malagrotta has been a home base for virtually all of his Grand Prix career; fifteen years, 223 Grands Prix, over 80 wins and 101 podiums.

“It hasn’t changed too much over the years to be honest and a special part of the track was always that sand at the bottom which means the ground varies and you get different kinds of bumps. It’s really nice for testing and training.”

“The place is big so it needs quite a bit of maintenance,” he adds. “The track is hard on the top section and you need to work a lot to make it loose and more towards a GP-style with ruts and bumps. It is a lot of work to keep the moisture inside. Some of the track is pretty rocky and then requires more work to keep it loose. It’s cool that it’s a good mix.”

Malagrotta might have some diversity but there is little doubt that #222 knows every knuckle and bump. “For sure it is boring sometimes because I’ve done so many laps here but it is important for me to be able to come, train and then leave,” he says. “I’m also a co-owner here so I like to make sure the track is in good condition for people that want to turn up, ride and train. We’ve made some investment over the years and keeping the track maintained is probably the biggest. We don’t have too many amateurs in this area of Italy, especially compared with the north and places like Ottobiano and Dorno that also attracts foreign riders from France, Germany and Austria. But there is a lot of potential with this track and when I stop racing then I will work to bring more people here from around Europe because it is close to Rome and just over five minutes to the city and twenty from the airport. It’s in a good location and the weather is good normally. It is never frozen in the winter.”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) © Ray Archer

Cairoli is not slowing with his usage of Malagrotta. In fact, the stiff challenge from Red Bull KTM teammate Jeffrey Herlings in this year’s MXGP title fight means he has to keep focused and keep looking for improvements to somehow dent the Dutchman’s form. The track is also the platform for winter tests and where De Carli and his crew honed the KTM 450 SX-F last season to enable Tony to grasp another world crown. “I have been riding here more than ever because I am in Belgium less these days,” Cairoli reveals. “We always decide our setup for the year when we test here. We know the dirt very well so this is ideal for comparison tests and the mixture of bumps means we have an important variety.”

Considering his familiarity with Malagrotta (something that De Carli’s latest protégé Jorge Prado is learning; the MX2 GP winner was also circulating with his KTM 250 SX-F) Cairoli was quick to provide his evaluation. “The hardest part is the bottom section; the sand and the ruts combined with the downhill and the bumps. It is also my favorite!”

What about a ‘neutral’ view? Cairoli might have a love-sometimes-hate relationship with Malagrotta but how does a debutant see it? “I thought the track was awesome,” grins tester and former British Championship racer Dave Willet. “Inclines are always a winner, cambers, sand … the only criticism is that some of the down ramps need to be made bigger. It needs to be the minimum of a length of a bike and they weren’t! But I’d take that track all day, it was a lot of fun and nice to put a lot of laps in.”

Photos: Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero | Ray Archer
Video: Luca Piffaretti


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Ultimate Race: The KTM ADVENTURE RALLY challenge awaits

Stony ridges, sandy landscapes and challenging dunes; that’s what competitors of the recently announced Ultimate Race will relish in at next year’s Merzouga Rally. A concept that gives the fastest amateurs from the KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES around the globe the chance to compete in a world-renowned event in a dedicated class, with full support from KTM and aboard the brand new, hotly anticipated KTM 790 ADVENTURE R, the Ultimate Race is certainly a special opportunity.

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R Prototype © Marcin Kin

The Merzouga Rally, which is part of the Dakar series, is a five-day event plus a prolog that races through the desert of Morocco and is a great challenge for both professional and amateur riders. Navigation is key, as is the ability to adapt to the changing terrain and racing environment. Not for the faint hearted, but riders will be greeted with incredible landscapes and the READY TO RACE feeling in his or her soul.

Each of the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES, which take place around the world this year, will host a qualifying stage and the top two from each qualifier aboard a twin cylinder KTM ADVENTURE bike will be given the opportunity to compete Merzouga in the Ultimate Race. Fully supported with flights, accommodation, entry, bike, race service and more by KTM, the winners will not be disappointed. They will also enjoy coaching from some of the world’s finest and fastest bike athletes, with Quinn Cody and Chris Birch already announced, to assist in their quest to race the terrain of Merzouga. A nice step up from the organized tours of the KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES, where riders enjoy epic dirt roads and more with like-minded riders. In addition, the winner of the Ultimate Race will be awarded with an incredible prize. There’s a lot to play for.

Ahead of the big announcement we got to take the prototype KTM 790 ADVENTURE R out to the Merzouga Rally this year, to check-out some of the incredible terrain, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. More details about the Ultimate Race in its official launch video …

And of course, check out these cool images.

KTM 790 ADVENTURE R Prototype © Marcin Kin

Photos: Marcin Kin
Video: Eros Girotti/Filmer Force Productions



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3 things you have to know about the 2019 KTM SX motocross bikes

Somehow those orange motocrossers have taken another step in performance for 2019 so we asked the wizards in R&D what is in store for riders eying a new dirtbike.

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KTM SX MY2019 range © Sebas Romero

Technicians and engineers are always pursuing ‘something better’. This is certainly the case within KTM’s relentless R&D Department. It would take a large slice of creativity and effort to improve the 2018 SX motocross range; don’t forget that the flagship KTM 450 SX-F grabbed titles in Supercross and finished 1-2 in MXGP last year (the KTM 250 SX-F also winning the MX2 World Championship) so the technical package was proven at the highest level of sport and KTM’s ‘mantra’ of READY TO RACE means it wouldn’t be any other way. In fact, Head of Engine Offroad & Motocross R&D, Michael Viertlmayr, says: “Without the approval of our racing athletes we do not make any major changes to our bikes. That is a clear statement from KTM.”

So, if Ryan Dungey (still very active with KTM and also in the saddle), Tony Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings, Glenn Coldenhoff, Pauls Jonass have provided some suggestions and tweaks then you can be sure they have been implemented on this new spectrum of SX machines. The line-up actually involves three 4-stroke SX-F models – 450, 350 and 250 – and three SX 2-strokes: 250, 150, 125. Practically every style, taste and preference is catered for.

But what else have KTM discovered? A dirtbike is not a simple or cheap investment so the 2019 offerings have to warrant the cost and effort to produce as well as entice riders that the latest gains on the dyno and through copious test runs are worth it. KTM Product Manager Offroad Joachim Sauer hints at the general direction of the SXs: “When it comes to performance then our goal was not to drastically improve it but rather aim for more rideability and more efficiency.” How was that done …?

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KTM 125 SX MY2019 © Sebas Romero

1) Whack on the gas and wipe that tear away: Rideability
At the heart of KTM’s objective to make the SX models more rideable – almost more friendly with that fierce market-leading power-to-weight ratio – is a series of modifications, but perhaps the most significant is the new frame. Made from chromium molybdenum steel sections with a longer aluminum subframe and cast aluminum swingarm (with a longer chain adjustment slot) extra stiffness is the goal. “The frame has been drastically improved to get the agility on one side but still keep the straight-line stability and the combination of the longer swingarm means the riders can now shorten or lengthen the wheelbase to make the bike turn easier or make it more stable on the straight,” Sauer says.

Does it work? British test rider and former racer Dave Willet was one of the first to take the SX and SX-Fs for a spin at the recent launch in Rome. “KTM talked about stiffening the frame so that it doesn’t twist and that’s the key,” he says. “Perhaps the flex in the last frame just took away some of that capability for the rider to be pinpoint-accurate in maneuvering the bike. Where they have made that strengthening and eradicated that twist means that it now glides across the track. And this is something that can be said for all the 4-strokes but even more so on the 450.”

“With the KTM 450 SX-F being one of the fastest bikes on the market it was hard to move it in the past … but not any more: the frame, swingarm, linkage, suspension all compliments the engine force.”

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KTM 450 SX-F frame © KTM

Add revised WP Suspension, items like a newly-formed stiffer triple clamp, a lighter clutch with steel components and Pankl engineering and it’s clear that these SXs will work and feel easier than ever before. This is essential for a motorcycle with the performance potential of the KTM 450 SX-F. Willet: “KTM have concentrated on letting the 450 move around the track with ease and it takes less physical strength to do that; you don’t have to manhandle it as much. It means the market for this motorcycle has now increased massively.”

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KTM 450 SX-F MY2019 © Sebas Romero

2) Boy, you´re (not) gonna carry that weight: Power
KTM have starved their SXs. More weight has been shed, and in the interests of rideability careful attention to engine internals and power delivery has been made to help the ‘loss’.

“We worked on every single model in terms of improving power delivery in combination with cylinders and cylinder heads on the 4-strokes and exhaust systems, airbox and EMS and electronics,” Sauer says. “It is one entire package to make the efficiency of the engine better. It doesn’t make sense to improve the peak performance of a 450; we have 63 horses, so the secret is about bringing the power down to the ground and there we made a major step forward.”

“Overall 550g was lost on the KTM 350 SX-F and 300g on the KTM 250 SX-F,” Viertlmayr says of the powerplants. “Weight dropped by 200g on the KTM 450 SX-F cylinder head alone.”

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KTM 450 SX-F engine © KTM

DS clutches and clever use of steel components and the fantastic time-saving advantages of using 3D printing technology means that KTM have reacted quickly to ideas. “The clutch components are made of steel and we have a weight drop; this is the old story of smart engineering and it is the same with the steel chassis because steel can be lighter than aluminum if you do it right,” advocates Viertlmayr.

Re-arrangement of elements such as the radiators, and engine position (higher crankshaft on the KTM 125/150 SX) helps towards more centralization. New exhaust silencers and headers across the range have assisted in the weight-performance battle.

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KTM 250 SX MY2019 © Sebas Romero

3) Something in the way she moves: Ergonomics
“We did not want to make something completely new because the previous bike was already pretty close to optimum,” Sauer claims of the freshly-sculpted SXs. “We got a lot of feedback from our factory riders about the edges where we could get better and we did not turn the bike upside-down.”

The SXs have not been turned upside down but they have been greatly honed. Designers at KISKA have focused on the contact points between rider and motorcycle and Dave Willet was able to rubber-stamp their work. “Rider ‘friction’ sounds like another sales pitch but you really can feel it,” he offers. “There is less contact in certain areas and the way you now have to grip the bike and with the sub-frame being slimmer allows you to transfer your body weight more easily. When you come into a turn standing up then you can easily shift your weight forwards or backwards. It is key across the range but it is more apparent on the 450 because of the size of the bike and how fast it is.”

Other examples of how KTM have thought of the rider include the new KTM 250 SX pipe. Vastly reduced in size (Viertlmayr: “Our test riders always used to complain that they had to change the pipes five times a year.”) but with oval cross sections in the bends means that performance has been maintained and even boosted. The SXs also have a new seat that is softer and more resistant: a feat that was achieved by careful analysis of every other option on the market and also comments by the pros athletes that are logging more bike time than most.

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KTM 450 SX-F MY2019 © Marco Campelli

For more information about the 2019 SX range and for details about particular models visit www.ktm.com.

Photos: Sebas Romero | Marco Campelli | KTM


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The perfect weekend for Luca Grünwald

KTM has quickly become a common sight at the forefront of the extremely exciting World Supersport 300 championship, and among others Luca Grünwald has been one of the guys piloting the fast KTM RC 390 R. We shadowed the rider of Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team around the Assen circuit for the second round of the World Championship.

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Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Wednesday, 8.41 pm
In the Fiat Ducato he borrowed from his dad, 23-year-old Luca Grünwald arrives at the Dutch TT Circuit in Assen, he parks the van neatly between the motorhomes. After nine long hours on the road the German World Supersport 300 rider arrives at his destination where he’s set to compete in only his second race in the championship. “Last year I was on a Superbike in the IDM Championship, but it was unclear whether or not there would even be a German championship to race in this season. When the offer of joining the World Supersport 300 came up, I was in doubt for a while, but in the end I took the chance. This class is so competitive and if you can show what you’re worth here, you might just get a shot at taking a step up into the higher classes in the WorldSBK paddock.” Grünwald has seen quite a few race paddocks over the years. Even though he’s only 23 years old, he’s been involved in the racing world for some time now. He started to make a name in 2007 when he won the ADAC Junior Cup. He then strung together success after success, because in 2010 and 2012 he respectively won the German 125cc and Moto3 championship. Internationally he burst onto the scene in 2011 when he got a shot at the 125cc World Championship. “It’s kind of funny, but we’re seven years down the road and this weekend I’m pretty much back to where it all started for me with my first Grand Prix. I debuted on this Assen track on Freudenberg Racing Team’s KTM 125 GP machine.”

Thursday, 3.32 pm
So far it’s been a quiet affair for the three time German champ. It’s only until later on the Thursday afternoon the World Supersport 300 riders are called to action, for a scrutineering, mind you. Freudenberg Racing Team’s mechanics roll in the KTM RC 390 R, but it’s Grünwald’s own responsibility to deliver his gear up for scrutiny. He quickly grabs his race leathers and crash helmet from the team truck and gets in line. To kill time he chats with someone he knows from back when he used to race for Kiefer Racing. Dutchman Peter Bom was Grünwalds chief mechanic when he raced fulltime in the Grand Prix’. “Obviously it was a dream true for me, but unfortunately it was only short-lived. The bike wasn’t the easiest to get your head around, and it was very difficult to sort out the front-end feel. We never really made it out of there and in the GPs that means things can move very quickly. You only get one shot to show what you’re worth and that pressure adds up. It’s a shame when one year later you’re sidelined, but I can’t say I’m not glad I raced in the Grand Prix’, even if it was just the one season. You learn so much.”

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Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Just as the Waldkraiburg man passes inspection, the track is opened for track walks. Together with teammate Max Kappler he does a few laps on the Assen TT Circuit on a bicycle to get the right mindset for the coming days. “I believe things could get very exciting who comes out on top here, because Assen’s layout makes it very difficult to gap other riders. It’s going to be a close call, and I hope to be right there at the front,” Grünwald says.

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Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Friday, 11.35 am
Twenty minutes left on the clock before Luca Grünwald gets his first outing on the Assen circuit aboard the KTM RC 390 R for the first thirty minute long free practice. He’s just donned his leathers and picks up a sheet with the track layout. “I close my eyes and imagine the track in front of me. I can then work on sections of track that I need to improve at. We don’t get much time to train on track in World Supersport 300, so it’s important to be in it from the word go. If you don’t manage to secure a good starting position, you’ll have your work cut out for you in the race,” the German claims. Because of the scarcity of track time for riders in the class, problems can spell serious trouble. “Say you run into a problem in FP2, that needs setup attention, you’re going to have to wait until Saturday to try it out. And on Saturday you only have a fifteen-minute Superpole session to make it work. And Superpole is such a crucial session in a racing weekend, making adjustments involves some serious risk.” Getting to know new tracks is also hampered by the limited track time they get. “Three of the eight tracks we go to I’ve never raced at, meaning Donington Park, Magny-Cours, and Portimão. I’m going to have to spend a lot of time figuring out the right lines. If you were to crash or get a technical problem, you’re in a world of pain for the rest of the weekend.”

Grünwald is hardly content after the first free practice, posting the nineteenth fastest time. With 1´54.767 he’s a whopping 2.695 seconds slower than fastest man Koen Meuffels, who wrote history at Aragon two weeks before, granting KTM their first World Supersport 300 victory.

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Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Friday, 6.07 pm
Second practice sees some serious improvement for Grünwald with eleventh place, but the results he’s aiming for don’t come easy. To make it into Superpole 2 directly he’s going to have to get into the top ten. So the German rider is going to have to put in some effort tomorrow in order to get that starting position at the front. Right before dinner – a full team affair at the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team tent – the 23-year-old is very open about his future. “You hope you get to race again every single year, but you can never take it for granted. There have been dozens of really fast riders who had to quit the sport, simply because they weren’t able to get the budget to go racing together. If you don’t have the right sponsor who will stick with you, it could all be over in the blink of an eye. I don’t have sponsors like that right now, so a few less than perfect seasons and I’m done for.”

Only the lucky few bring home the bacon just from racing, so Luca Grünwald always keeps in mind there is a world outside the racing paddock. He was in school to become a car mechanic, but then he came across an interesting opportunity. “After finishing school last year, I was out looking for a job, when a friend of mine told me KTM’s R&D Department was looking for a development rider. That’s how I came to work for KTM.” Having him racing a KTM right now as well was purely coincidental. “When I first started working for KTM I was still racing a Suzuki. They didn’t mind, and I’m glad they didn’t. They felt my work for them shouldn’t affect my racing efforts.”

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Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Saturday, 10.12 am
The second day of racing dawns at the Assen track, but for the World Supersport 300 rider all is pretty easy going. If you make it through Superpole 1 – in which only to fastest two pass on through to Superpole 2 – and then partake in the second session along with ten fastest guys on track, you’re still out on track for a total of thirty minutes tops. And that’s only the two fastest riders, the other 37 only have a fifteen minute session to run on Saturday before they’re done for the day. “I would rather have had a third free practice; all we’re doing now is waiting. And we don’t really have time to try things out either, because there’s no way you are going try new thing in Superpole.” With about an hour before Grünwald suits up, he always goes for a run. “To keep my body up to temperature, that’s all that’s for. Get my heartrate up and warm up the muscles a bit. Focus comes automatically then, because when you just sit around your mind wanders off and you lose focus.”

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Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Apart from getting a workout in, the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team rider also uses the Saturday to analyze data and to look back footage from previous sessions, learning from that as he does. “We don’t carry a lot of sensors on the bike but I get plenty of information from the ones we do have. That way we can figure out where there’s progress to be made.” Grünwald manages to make it through Superpole 1 in the end, setting the second fastest time of the session. With 1´51.681 he’s allowed into qualifying with the ten fastest riders in the class, but he doesn’t improve on the time set in Superpole 1, leaving him in P9. That means he’s on the third row for the race; his second in World Supersport 300.

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Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Sunday, 1.56 pm
“Tension rises fast on Sunday, and it starts to build early, too. Our warm up session starts at 8.50 am,” Grünwald explains. “I try to focus as much as I can, channeling all I’ve got into getting off the line well. In this class those first few laps are outright war. Contacts a plenty and you’ll find another rider on every possible line through every single corner. After that things ease up a bit and you can start working on a plan,” explains Grünwald. At Assen round ‘making a plan’ didn’t quite worked out for anyone. Right after the start a large and very wild leading pack forms. Setting a strategy and following it has no use whatsoever. Because a lot of riders received grid penalties, Grünwald was allowed to take off from sixth place, allowing him to slot in with the leading pack. He manages to stay with the leading bunch right until the final lap, striking in the final chicane – the Geert Timmer-bocht. With a small sprint to the line, Grünwald manages to outdrive fellow competitors Glenn van Straalen and Scott Deroue to the line, taking his first World Championship race victory!

Luca Grünwald (#43, GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

A long lap of honor and few sips of champagne on the podium are to follow, after which the German gets dressed in absolute calm. The well-earnt cup is proudly displayed in the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team awning. “What an insane race that was. It was complete chaos again out there,” a smiling Grünwald says. “I knew I’d fit in well in the class, but I did not expect to be taking victory at only my second race in the championship. It does feel really good to be back on the rostrum again. If feels like forever since I last managed that, with my last victory in 2016.”

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Podium Supersport 300 Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Sunday, 7.03 pm
There isn’t a great deal of time to celebrate his victory, because the Fiat Ducato is already set to leave the track again. Luca Grünwald has quite a trip ahead of him back home to Waldkraiburg. “Tomorrow is my day off, so I’m going to make the most of that now. I have completely lost track of how many people congratulated me in the paddock. I haven’t even had time to watch the race back myself, apart from that final lap. Everyone in the team kept showing me that on their phones.” The weekend after Assen Grünwald isn’t racing so he’s made plans to enjoy the weekend with a few friends. “I’m going to be celebrating with them!”

Winning the Assen round has moved Grünwald up to second place in the championship, boding well for a good season for the German KTM rider. “I believe I should be able to get on the rostrum on a regular basis this season, and if I can manage that I’ll automatically be in with a shot at the championship. I’m certainly not going to tell you, right here, right now, I’m taking home that trophy at the end of the season, because so much can happen. We all have a long way to go yet, but I want to assure myself I have fun racing. And believe me when I say I’m having fun right now.”

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Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Luca Grünwald – still second in the championship – will be racing at Brno this weekend (from June 8 to June 10). With no German round on the calendar in World Supersport 300, the German KTM rider will go into the Czech round as his home race. Feel like following him? Check out his own Facebook page or that of the team.

Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions


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Cairoli to find new limits with forthcoming F1 test

Posted in People, Riding

“Difficult and nervous …”, the MXGP World Champion talks exclusively about another special motorsport outing thanks to a Red Bull Racing Formula One test on June 6.

Tony Cairoli interrupted his post-wedding plans at the end of 2017 to circulate with the factory Red Bull KTM MotoGPTM machine at Valencia. Now, the Grand Prix winning Sicilian is anticipating his first laps in a Formula One car at the Red Bull Ring this week. #222 will join the Red Bull Racing test team to take a two-year old RB12 for some flying laps in Austria.

“I’ve pushed Red Bull quite a bit for this as I know it’s nice for me but also some good visibility for our sport because not many motocrossers get this opportunity,” Cairoli admitted. “It’s exciting to have done MotoGPTM and now Formula One.”

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Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer

Speaking exclusively about the event, the nine-times number one also revealed that a degree of preparation has already gone into his F1 ‘debut’. He recently travelled to the team’s HQ in England to have his seat individually molded and to also make an obligatory session with the crew’s simulator. “It’s like a PlayStation but you feel the movements of the car and the throttle control and clutch is very sensitive,” he revealed. “It was difficult in the beginning but then they were very surprised by my laps. My times were actually very close to the drivers’ and not far from Verstappen’s! I cannot wait to test a real one.”

The 32-year-old is already an accomplished Rally car driver; a passion that he indulges once the MXGP season is complete. The F1 opportunity was a little more complicated in terms of scheduling for Tony to be able to try other methods of prep. “It would have been better to have done some karting but I haven’t had much time,” he says. “We’re fighting for the championship and that means we have to look to the day job first. This is just going to be for fun.”

Cairoli has already been able to think about the technicalities of the ‘spin’ thanks to his observations and experience with the simulator. “What is crucial with those cars are the braking points. I was braking late in the simulator because nothing can happen … but of course with a real car it is different! The steering wheel was pretty complicated but the hardest thing for me was getting in the car and making the seat; it is a strange feeling to be almost lying down. The cockpit is also really tight and the knuckles of your fingers almost touch the sides when they are on the wheel. There is almost no room at all and it is very compact.”

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Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer

The Red Bull KTM rider competes in arguably the most liberal motorsport for individual expression. One of the reasons that motocross is so tough is because of the demand and punishment on all major muscle groups as the rider fights to manhandle the bike through the terrain and the air. F1 is the complete opposite, and perhaps one of the most constrained performance environments for the athlete. It is a marked contrast for TC222.

“Yes, and especially because I have asthma and I felt the claustrophobia when I had to sit there for 30 minutes with the helmet making the seat,” he half-jokes. “There is also another part with the seatbelts and top unit of the car pushing you down hard before you’ve even started the engine: this was the most difficult and nervous part of the whole process for me!”

The days of racing legends like John Surtees and Mike Hailwood interchanging world championship wheels and disciplines have long gone but Cairoli aims to prove that a racer’s instinct might still be the most valuable asset when it comes to making speed. Aside from the pride, there is also the bill to consider if perhaps it does go wrong and the gravel trap gets a bit too close: “I hope they have insurance but I don’t want to think about it!”

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Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer

Photos: Ray Archer


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#inthisyear1998: Duke I “Last Edition”

Posted in Bikes, History

Gran Canaria – beginning of March. Media launch of the new KTM 790 DUKE. The journalists are totally obsessed with the latest addition to the DUKE family. Its razor-sharp handling has earned the 790 its own nickname – “The Scalpel”. The new 790 plugs the gap between the 690, the most powerful single-cylinder on the market, and the “Beast”, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R with more than double the power. The complete genealogy of the 790 was on display in all its glory at a presentation at an aircraft hangar, beginning with the original DUKE, which was replaced as the KTM 640 DUKE “last edition” by the DUKE II exactly 20 years ago.

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KTM 640 DUKE Last Edition © Leo Keller

In the early 90s KTM decided to take a new direction: At that time, KTM chose to take a two-pronged approach, launching a selection of sporty street bikes to join their offroad range for enduro and motocross racing. In 1994, the arrival of the KTM 620 DUKE (later often referred to as “DUKE I” to distinguish it from successor models) signaled the launch of a completely new type of vehicle. Although some self-builders and accessory traders had been making some nifty enduro modifications to try and scare the big bikes on windy roads, terms such as “fun bike” or “streetfighter” did not yet exist. It was KTM who did it properly. Instead of just exchanging the enduro tires for 17-inch wheels, a completely new motorbike came into existence based on the LC 4 Hard Enduro. There was no question that the long-stroke enduro fork needed to give way to a completely adjustable WP upside-down fork with a brake disc the size of a pizza. WP suspension and a brake disc were also used at the rear. The wide 17-inch wheels provided the eye candy while Gerald Kiska, the man still responsible for designing KTM bikes today, made the DUKE look a million miles removed from its enduro origins.

DUKE – a name that has been synonymous with KTM street bikes for over 20 years – was not the result of extensive analyses, like you might suspect, but something we stumbled across a few days before the first trade show presentation. Wolfgang Felber, the product manager, remembers it very well. He flicked through some English and Italian dictionaries just before the trade show and put together a list of different names. The following day he showed his list to Kalman Cseh, the man who was responsible for making such decisions for KTM at the time. Cseh had a quick look through the list and immediately picked “DUKE”. Geoff Duke was a popular British racer in the 1950s and six-time world champion, but the motorcycle world later began to associate the German word “Herzog” – the literal translation from the English – with the KTM DUKE.

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KTM 640 DUKE Last Edition © Leo Keller

Finished in a striking combination of metallic orange and black, the KTM 620 DUKE “first edition” from 1994 still had to brought to life with a kick-starter system and manual decompression lever. “This bike is not for wimps – just Duke it” were the words written in the concept description at the time. The first major revision came two years later. In 1996, the KTM 620 DUKE E “third edition” received new engine housing with two oil pumps and an E-starter, so that the rider could choose between pressing the start button or using the kick-starter system. A KTM-manufactured stainless steel silencer had also become responsible for the machine’s sound. In 1998, the final version of the original DUKE landed in showrooms – once again painted orange and black and now powered by a new 625ccm engine with balancer shaft. Only 400 units of the KTM 640 DUKE “last edition” were built and a mint-condition model is now a highly sought-after collector’s item. The “last edition” was replaced by the KTM 640 DUKE II with a strongly revised design.

2005 saw the release of the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE, a second model series of the naked bike, powered by a large-volume V2 engine, and, three years later, came a completely new, ultra-modern single-cylinder engine for the KTM 690 DUKE, the successor model to the DUKE II.

Alongside the new KTM 790 DUKE, KTM currently offers the KTM 125 DUKE, KTM 390 DUKE, KTM 690 DUKE and the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R in the naked bike segment. These are powered by single-cylinder motors, the new LC8c in-line engine of the 790, or the strapping V2 of the SUPER DUKE R. In some South American and Asian countries, the KTM naked bike range has been expanded to include the KTM 250 DUKE.

There’s really something for everybody – just Duke it!

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KTM 790 DUKE MY2018 © KTM

Photos: Leo Keller | KTM


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Sam Sunderland – Segrave Trophy winner 2017

Posted in People

You’d be forgiven for having not heard of the Segrave Trophy, especially those who live outside of the UK. But take a closer look at the award and the list of previous winners reads like a who’s who of the British motorsport world.

Sam Sunderland is the first and only British motorcycle rider to have won the Dakar Rally. On January 14, 2017 the likeable Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider from Poole in Dorset crossed the finish line in Argentina to make his own special piece of history. In the 40 years that the Dakar Rally has run, both in Africa and South America, no Brit had previously ever taken victory, in any class.

It is this achievement that the Segrave Nominations Committee deemed worthy of winning the prestigious Segrave Trophy. Commissioned in 1930 by Lady Segrave in memory of her husband, the award is only presented to someone who displays ‘outstanding skill, courage and initiative on land, water and in the air – the Spirit of Adventure’. Past motorcycling winners include John Surtees, Joey Dunlop, Barry Sheene and Mike Hailwood – an impressive list indeed!

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Sam Sunderland 2018 © Royal Automobile Club

At the recent award ceremony held at the Royal Automobile Club in London, the KTM BLOG caught up with Sam to get his thoughts on being presented with such a prestigious award and what it means for him personally, and motorcycle sport in the UK.

Sam, first of all congratulations on winning the Segrave Trophy. How does it feel having your name added to such an incredible list of former winners?
“It’s amazing, I am truly humbled and honored to be part of such a legendary list of riders, drivers and pioneers in the world of motorsport. As an offroad rider I think it’s something extra special to be given the award as our disciplines are often overlooked. It brings further media attention to our sport and I think raises it up a level too, even on the world stage.

When I was first told I had won the award, and looked up the past winners, it blew my mind. I also like the fact they don’t give it out every year, but only when someone is deemed worthy of winning – it makes it that little bit more special.”

As someone who spends most of his time racing and traveling all over the world, do you think winning the Seagrave Trophy will help shine a light on cross-country rallying in the UK?
“Yes definitely, I think a lot of people in the UK have heard of the Dakar Rally, but perhaps don’t know that much about it. When I won in 2017 the response from the public was amazing, this award only goes to further that recognition and I think it’s hugely important especially for offroad motorsport. As a proud Englishman, it’s a massive achievement to have my name added to that list of winners.”

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Sam Sunderland (GBR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team & KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Rally Zone

Yourself and John McGuinness are the latest two winners of the award – one a Dakar Rally winner, McGuinness a 23-time Isle of Man TT winner. The two events are widely different but arguably likened due to their extreme nature …
“As motorcyclists, I think we often forget how extreme a lot of what we do really is. I have heard the Dakar compared to the TT before and I even have some friends who race there. I think it’s like a lot of sports, you are aware of the dangers involved in your own sport but you find a way to deal with it. It’s that ‘spirit of adventure’ as named in the award and the challenge of pitting yourself against not just your opponents but the conditions and the event itself. I think that’s what makes the two stand out from other disciplines in motorcycle sport and again I’m honored to be credited for my achievements.”

What would you say is the biggest difference that separates rallying from other forms of motorcycle racing?
“The biggest difference is perhaps that with races like the TT, road racing and motocross you can learn the course, learn the tracks. With rally, everything is new every single kilometer. You are trusting your road book completely and if there are no dangers listed in the road book you simply don’t shut off. If you hesitate too much on each blind rise for example, you just won’t finish in the top-10.”

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Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY 2018 © Marcin Kin

Some of the Seagrave trophy winners were true pioneers, not always out-and-out racers, which perfectly highlights the importance of Spirit of Adventure …
“There aren’t many corners of the world people haven’t been today, so I guess it’s harder to be a pioneer, but adventure – going and doing – still excites and motivates people. When you look back at the past winners of the Segrave Trophy, some of those guys, and girls, were amazing. They were the true pioneers of sport or adventure and really pushed the boundaries of what was possible at the time. You have got Malcom Campbell and his son Donald, they both set world speed records; Amy Johnson who flew solo from London to Cape Town in 1932. To be added to the same list as legends like that feels incredible.”

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Sam Sunderland & Tom Purves (Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club) 2018 © Royal Automobile Club

You’ve won the Dakar, had your achievements acknowledged with the Segrave award, but our guess is you’re not ready to slow down just yet!
“No, no way. It simply doesn’t work like that. I am a racer and so often the feeling you have inside is that you are only as good as your last race. The 2018 Dakar was a tough one for me, my pace was good, but a small mistake on one of the stages caused me to hurt my back and I was forced to retire. Luckily, I wasn’t injured too badly and was back on a bike a few weeks later, but inside I was gutted. I wanted so badly to win again and I felt I had let myself and the team down. When you have won the Dakar it just raises the bar that little bit higher and you have this expectation to do better.

I remember the first round of the World Championship in Abu Dhabi after I had won the Dakar. You feel like everyone simply expects you to go on winning and it’s just not that straightforward. It’s like you never arrive, you have to keep on going, keep on fighting for wins and results.”

Thanks Sam, congratulations again on your award and good luck for the 2019 Dakar!

Photos: Royal Automobile Club | Rally Zone | Marcin Kin


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Collecting Moments #7: Training after a knee injury

Posted in People, Riding

That moment when you’re sat in hospital listening to a diagnosis and the details of an injury can often be very sobering. You usually start off thinking “it won’t be so bad” approach and hope for good news. I was just the same, clinging to a small spark of hope …

I can still clearly remember the moment when my Mom opened the door to the casualty ward and we rolled into surgery. I recognized my MRI images straight away. The chief physician was on the phone discussing my injury in detail with his colleague. He had the following to say: “Yeah, she’s put up a pretty good fight, but it’s not looking good…” It felt like the ground had been pulled out from under me because I was genuinely convinced that it wasn’t that bad.

So, what now? Should they operate or not? I listened to many different opinions about the state of my knee and remained convinced that it was best not to have surgery. To this day I still don’t regret my decision for a second. There are studies that show that the knee can often “self-heal”. It develops a kind of tissue that allows the knee to regain the stability that was lost due to the torn ligament. The only downside: it takes months! So, you have to weigh things up and make a decision. Are you going to have an operation on your knee that may or may not prove effective, or spend months taking things real slow in training and giving your body time to heal? I have to say that it really varies depending on the situation, but in my case I had some fortune in my misfortune, because my chances of recovering without an operation looked pretty decent.

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© Anna-Larissa Redinger

How and with what did I train to get fit again after my injury?

In general, training after a knee injury is all about building up muscle. Immediately after an injury you just have to rest – that’s not great for the muscles of course because they quickly start to break down. Stability in the knee is just not a given after the resting period because neither the ligaments nor the muscles offer sufficient support, at least not for sporting activities. In terms of your daily life, you start feeling better pretty quickly.

For me as an outdoorsy person, it was difficult to accept that a part of my training needed to take place inside using gym equipment. But the thought of returning to a level of 100% fitness and being able to get back on my KTM really motivated me to take those hours in the gym in my stride. It has been proven over decades that performing squats is the most effective exercise at building up muscle. But it’s real important that you do the exercise right and build things up slowly. Coordination and balance exercises on the Indo Board are also great and super fun too! There are loads of other exercises you can do in the gym or at home – the leg press is also an awesome piece of equipment. I did a lot work with my physiotherapist because, when it comes to training, it’s all about quality over quantity. Exercises are more efficient when they’re performed with accuracy and precision.

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© Anna-Larissa Redinger

One of the first proper outdoor activities I did after getting injured was going on a ski trip. Few people would think of skiing as an appropriate comeback exercise after a knee injury and I’ll admit that I wasn’t completely up to it. The climb up is a great exercise because, similar to hiking, the knee and muscles move in a controlled and even manner and with a good rhythm. On top of that, fresh mountain air is good for the soul. The only problem is the descent. Skiing is obviously not great for the knees, which is why, at the start of my training, I had to take the cable car down – even though that seemed completely absurd to me as a passionate skier. By the end I was just grateful to be outside and active though. Sometimes you have to compromise.

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© Anna-Larissa Redinger

Along with the skiing, I soon started mountain biking again. It was an amazing feeling getting back on my trusty Cannondale Jekyll and putting my feet to the pedals. The Jekyll is a real “Enduro” mountain bike and the seat position and the way it moves reminds me of riding Enduro on my KTM – it was so awesome! I managed to get myself very active again in a short period of time and was able to train exceptionally well.

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© Anna-Larissa Redinger

I have to say one thing though: the whole thing would not have been possible without my Ortema K-COM . This brace gave my knee the stability it was lacking and considerably expanded my training options. I was able to get outside again and experience that feeling of freedom – and it was all thanks to my K-COM training partner.

I’ve now been parted from my beloved KTM for almost 7 months! It’s been real hard being patient for so long. This time last year I was mentally preparing to take part in the Red Bull Romaniacs event. The best way to motivate myself for that was to clearly visualize myself reaching my goal and riding through the Red Bull arch. That’s how I survived those four days in the Romanian forest, which can really push a person to their limits. Today, one year later, I’m thinking about that same moment and how I got to experience it! I’ve been channeling that feeling and all the associated emotions for the past few months, which has given me so much inner strength. It was real hard, but I don’t regret it!

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© Esterpower

Thanks to my training and my Ortema K-COM, my knee has recovered exceptionally fast. I feel fit and ready for my KTM; something that seemed far off for a very long time. It won’t be long now before I climb back in that saddle, press down on the E-starter and drown out everything around me. “READY TO RACE?” – not yet, but nearly!

Get to know more about Larissa on the KTM BLOG – Collecting Moments #6: The road to recovery – or check out her website!

Photos: Anna-Larissa Redinger | Esterpower


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The benchmark is set higher: The latest generation of KTM SX is here

Posted in Bikes

KTM is dominating the battle. In the last 10 years there has been one consistent performer in the motocross and supercross championships worldwide, and that’s the KTM SX models.

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KTM 450 SX-F MY2019 © KTM

This week we see the release of the latest generation, model year 2019, an evolution of something great into something even more incredible. Ultra-light, world beating, benchmark-setting motocross machines from the KTM 50 SX for the youngest orange fans, to the Motocross World Championship winning KTM 450 SX-F powerhouse.

Whilst on first glance the adult KTM 125 SX, KTM 150 SX, KTM 250 SX, KTM 250 SX-F, KTM 350 SX-F and KTM 450 SX-F machines may look similar to before, what lies beneath is years of developmental excellence with a new chassis and refined engines – in fact around 60% of the parts on these models are new. As the sharpest weapons for the job, the world-winning technologies aboard these orange machines have been tested and developed firstly to win championships, and then for serial production. The latest KTM SX generation is READY TO RACE more than ever.

Journalists are gearing up to take a first ride on the KTM SX models in Italy to experience the new machines for the very first time. Having enjoyed a meal of copious pasta in keeping with Cairoli’s #gofastaeatpasta mantra no doubt, the media will ride the Malagrotta circuit, the home track of nine-time World Champion Cairoli, where he and five-time Supercross World Champion Ryan Dungey are on-hand to assist with the presentation of the latest KTM serial production machines that boast the development that unquestionably propelled them to championship success. Here we share a few images of the KTM MY2019 machines that will be available in dealers from June onwards.

KTM 250 SX-F MY2019 © KTM

Photos: KTM



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Interview of the Month: The Zarco Effect – What will KTM gain for MotoGP™ in 2019 …?

Posted in People, Racing

Red Bull KTM’s confirmation of a two-year contract with French ace Johann Zarco is one of the headline-grabbers of the MotoGPTM season so far. What can the works team expect once the #5 becomes orange? To gain some insight into the 28-year-old athlete we asked one of the people that knows him best; Aki Ajo.

The quiet Finn sits in his bare and immaculate race truck office in the Jerez MotoGPTM paddock. The subject of Johann Zarco is an easy one for the former racer to talk about. Ajo has strong and well-nurtured links with KTM and is responsible for the company’s first Moto3 crown in 2012 and continues to marshal the KTM RC 250 GP as well as the official Moto2 squad to this day. Ajo also has intimate knowledge of Zarco, his character and also his development in Grand Prix. He signed a young Johann (the first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champ in 2007) for his 125cc squad in 2011 and helped him classify second in the world championship in just his third term. Three years later and they collaborated again in Moto2 and claimed two titles; Zarco becoming the most successful French rider in history in the process.

“I’m not exactly sure when I met him for the first time – maybe when he was in the Rookies – but I started to get to know him in 2009 which was his first year in the world championship,” Ajo says, furrowing his brow and trying to recollect. “In 2010 we had a few more conversations and he joined our team for 2011 and that was his best season until that point. I think that Johann has changed a lot from these times. He was young, shy, a small boy that didn’t know his capabilities and what he could really do.”

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Aki Ajo (FIN) Barcelona (ESP) 2018 © Sebas Romero

Already at this time Zarco was adhering and depending on the counsel and advice of another former rider: Laurent Fellon. His countryman remains his manager and aide until this day. “Laurent was his coach but also like part of the family,” explains Aki. “He was very important for him and at the start of his career was very strict and strong and very ordered … but I think that was good for Johann. 2011 had its ups-and-downs but still good performances and it wasn’t always an easy year. We started to respect each other and both he and Laurent were making comments like ‘we’ll be back with you soon … ’.”

Zarco, eager to expand his experience and knowledge left the confines of the Ajo team for Moto2 and gained six podium results in two years and through a slightly unstable period. His old team manager meanwhile had allied with KTM for 2012 and didn’t look back. In fact, Ajo’s success in Moto3 only fueled his ambition … and made a pathway back to Zarco.

“My decision to go to Moto2 was made very quickly,” he recounts. “I did it on the spur of the moment before the Grand Prix in Silverstone in 2014. I asked IRTA and Dorna if a slot was possible and then my next call was to Johann and I half-joked that he’d be our first Moto2 rider the following year but he and Laurent were immediately ready and just after Silverstone – so only a few days – we had already shaken hands. I have to respect and be thankful to them because they were flexible and appreciated the situation that I was building the team quickly and with minimal parts. They were fully behind it and tried to help find some support and money for the team. He was almost riding without salary but he really wanted to win. His reaction convinced me that I really needed to push ahead in Moto2 and it was much better working together the second time.”

“2015 and 2016 were excellent years and I will never forget them,” Ajo admits. “Johann didn’t have a KTM contract at that time but it was like he was already in the KTM family because we had the Red Bull KTM team in Moto3 and the Moto2 was supported by KTM. Mr Pierer and Pit Beirer said to me ‘Aki, you are a little bit crazy to do this so quickly but we’d like to support you’ and I think they trusted that Moto2 could be something good. 2019 is definitely not the first time that Johann has been in co-operation with KTM.”

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Johann Zarco (FRA) Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup 2007 © KTM

Those two years (before Zarco hungered for a MotoGPTM debut in 2017) produced a windfall. The WP Suspension-shod Kalex gave the Cannes born athlete an invaluable education in tire preservation (Moto2 use Dunlop control rubber compared to Michelin in MotoGPTM) and race management. He totaled 24 podiums, 15 of those on the top step of the box. The potential – that Ajo claims was evident from his first appearances in leathers – had been realized in the intermediate category and those lessons would serve well for a studious, smooth and rapier-effective launch into the premier class. “From the Rookies Cup you could see he had talent but later he had some difficult times,” Ajo says. “He and Laurent were very clear about how they should do things and nobody really stopped them. They are so strong … but maybe their style did not fit with all the teams and people they encountered. Especially in the beginning … but now they have much more experience. They had difficulties but they kept pushing all the time and now you can see where they are.”

Zarco immediately turned heads by leading his very first MotoGPTM race in Qatar 2017. He went on to become a protagonist in the division, a front-row regular, usurper of factory-equipped rivals and Rookie of the Year with three podiums; a tally he has almost bested already ahead of his home Grand Prix at Le Mans. Was Ajo caught off-guard by the speed of his acclimatization to a world of horsepower, electronics and setup work? “I was, I have to say,” he smiles. “I was surprised by how he learned everything so quickly. He also surprised others who said ‘he’s a bit too old’ or ‘he’s been in Moto2 too long’. I was thinking ‘just wait … ’. I have to be honest I didn’t think it would be so quick.”

Johann is an unassuming, low-key and relatively humble ‘star’. He almost doesn’t seem like a MotoGPTM hero. “Yes, that’s true, but in a positive way,” Ajo observes. “He doesn’t seem like a superstar. He is not going crazy and doesn’t focus on things that he thinks are unimportant … like sometimes people do! In terms of his personality he is still the same Johann and he was sitting where you are now for a long time yesterday just talking. I don’t see any change. He is very analytical and focused on racing.”

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Johann Zarco (FRA) Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup 2007 © KTM

Perhaps there are parallels between the two. Asked if he feels like he has played a pivotal role in establishing and helping KTM grow in the Grand Prix paddock Ajo waves his hands. “Nooooo! I cannot say that. I feel lucky. In 2010 and I heard some rumors that KTM were coming to Moto3; I contacted Heinz Kinigadner and Pit Beirer and said I’d like to have a meeting. They were really open and interested to make a collaboration with us. I was really happy about this and thankful it has been so many years already. At the time we already had a partnership with Red Bull – from 2010 – and that helped and it became KTM in 2012. It was a great start and very important for myself, my company and all of us. I’m thankful for that.”

Ajo and Zarco might share humility … but also a thirst for detail that lead to success. Zarco’s signature was sought-after by many but secured and stamped in Munderfing. It is something of a coup for a team that have been on the MotoGPTM grid for just eighteen months but have already tasted GP points, the top ten and have moved through three engine concepts. Aside from publicity will Zarco’s working method and philosophy be a distinct gain for KTM’s objectives? Ajo is resolute. “Absolutely,” he says. “It is also a useful move for the whole KTM family because when a rider like Johann sees potential is there then it opens a lot of eyes as to what KTM are doing. He has placed his trust and his experience in the company, and his systematic working style is important for that type of project to both develop and also ‘prove’ things are going in the right direction.”

For all the talk of development and refinement of the KTM RC16, Motorsport Director Pit Beirer enforced the point that it is “the rider that has to open the throttle” in discussions with the press in Jerez. There is a feeling that KTM have exactly the personnel needed to make the next chop into the lap-times to reach the front.

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Aki Ajo (FIN) & Pit Beirer (GER) Sachsenring (GER) 2017 © Philip Platzer

Photos: Sebas Romero | Philip Platzer | KTM


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The latest KTM EXC models unveiled

Posted in Bikes

Through forests, up rock faces or in rutty sand the KTM EXC models are the most supreme enduro machines and in their element in challenging terrain. With an exciting two years of revolutionary model introductions behind us, including the launch of the KTM EXC TPI 2-strokes – the world’s very first serial production, offroad competition, fuel-injection 2-stroke machines – the KTM EXC range is refined again for model year 2019.

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KTM 250 EXC TPI MY2019 © KTM

As KTM and enduro enter a new era in competition with the all-new World Enduro Super Series (WESS), the latest offerings from the Austrian manufacturer are celebrated, especially with highlight models such as the KTM 350 EXC-F and the KTM 300 EXC TPI, with all KTM EXC machines receiving various updates. However, for model year 2019 special attention must be given to the KTM 125 XC-W and KTM 150 XC-W 2-strokes, which receive various engine revisions for the latest model year, and are designed for closed-course riding as part of the KTM EXC family.

All KTM EXC models enjoy improved WP fork settings, and a reworked WP shock absorber with a re-designed main piston and settings for improved, confidence-inspiring damping characteristics. A new seat cover, stronger battery and new graphics with a READY TO RACE factory-looking orange frame compliment the high-quality Brembo brakes, No-Dirt footpegs, NEKEN handlebar, CNC milled hubs with high-end black Giant rims and more that comes as standard on these championship winning machines.

The KTM BLOG takes a look at the images of the new bikes, which will be arriving in dealers soon.

KTM 300 EXC TPI SIX DAYS MY2019 © KTM

Photos: KTM



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#222 on the 222! A MXGP journey …

Posted in People, Racing

MXGP World Champion Tony Cairoli will reach a career total of 222 Grand Prix appearances the next time the Sicilian wheels out his #222 KTM 450 SX-F at Kegums in Latvia this weekend. After fifteen seasons in the FIM Motocross World Championship, nine titles and an incredible career we asked TC222 for some of the highlights.

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) Orlyonok (RUS) 2018 © Ray Archer

The Grand Prix with the most beautiful setting …
“We first raced at Arco di Trento with MXGP in 2013. We go to some strange places with the world championship and they can feel very different but I still think Arco is one of the most amazing with that mountain background and being close to the lakes. Being in Italy the GP brings a little extra pressure but every time we arrive at that circuit it is hard not to admire it.”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Arco di Trento (ITA) 2018 © Ray Archer

A Grand Prix track that sticks in the mind as one of the hardest physically and technically …
“Easy: Lommel [Grand Prix of Belgium]. It can get so rough and so difficult. I must have done thousands of laps at that place. It is the toughest track in the world. But I love it.”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Lommel (BEL) 2017 © Ray Archer

Celebrating titles in a number of countries – Brazil, Ireland and the Netherlands – is cool but nowhere beats home …
“Winning your first title is always special, so doing it in the Netherlands in 2005 was magical but winning in front of your home crowd is amazing. Faenza in Italy in 2012 was the country and the place that immediately stands out for me. The emotion is always strong when you know you have that red plate for the year and can turn it into gold!”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) Faenza (ITA) 2012 © KTM

A Grand Prix where I’ve had most fun …
“Hard one but I’ll say Beto Carrero [Grand Prix of Brazil in 2012-14]. It was right by the sea and part of an amusement park. The grandstands were always packed and the track was fun to ride. It was always a nice trip there and a nice and cool place to have a race.”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Beto Carrero (BRA) 2014 © Ray Archer

A Grand Prix I’ve never liked …
“I’ll say Loket [Czech Republic], more for the track, which is always hard and slippery. I’ve had some success there both in MXGP and MX2 but also some tough races and not the most enjoyable.”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Loket (CZE) 2017 © Ray Archer

A favorite country for racing …
“Of course, I’ll say Italy! And we’re having quite a few GPs over the years and in some very different places like Maggiora, Ottobiano, Arco … Imola this year should be interesting. We go to many countries and, like I said, you get a different flavor in each one but I have to mention Argentina and Brazil for the amazing fans and the atmosphere you feel there.”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) Arco die Trento (ITA) 2017 © Ray Archer

A Grand Prix that saw the very best of Tony Cairoli …
“Again difficult! There tends to be one race that stands out each season where you think ‘I was good that day … ’ but the one that comes to mind straightaway is Arco in 2017 where I managed to come back to second place after a crash on the first corner. It felt really good to win the Grand Prix after that ride.”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Arco die Trento (ITA) 2017 © Ray Archer

A Grand Prix to forget …
“Oh, Sweden in 2012 where I had two DNFs; one because I had a stone caught in the rear brake and another from running into the mud and getting stuck. I went to Uddevalla leading the championship and left Sunday night without the red plate! It was almost unbelievable and so bad it was almost amusing. There is a nice end to that story though because I won the next six Grands Prix after that disaster to get the championship.”

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Uddevalla (SWE) 2012 © Ray Archer

A lesson learned from 222 Grands Prix …
“Something that I quickly realized at this level and I came to believe in it so much that I had a tattoo made: ‘Disce pati si vincere voles’. A translation in English would be ‘learn to suffer if you want to win’ and it’s worked out pretty well for me.”

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KTM 450 SX-F Redsand (ESP) 2018 © Ray Archer

Photos: KTM | Ray Archer


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KTM FAN PACKAGE 2018

Posted in Lifestyle, Racing

Back in March, the start of MotoGPTM signaled a new, exciting season of Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGPTM racing action: KTM is READY TO RACE in all classes.

Just like in previous years, the best riders in Grand Prix motorcycle racing are, once again, demonstrating motorsport at its finest, providing some truly breathtaking viewing over a total of 19 races. With the KTM FAN PACKAGE, the Austrian manufacturer is offering all enthusiasts the opportunity to watch the premier class of motorcycling live in action at selected European races.

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READY TO RACE is more than a slogan at KTM; it’s a way of life. It’s therefore no surprise that KTM is rising to the challenge in all three classes of Grand Prix motorcycle racing. After a strong Moto3 season in 2017, KTM has really upped its game for 2018 in the smallest class, hoping to improve on its successes from previous years. In Moto2, the chassis developed in collaboration with WP exceeded all expectations in its debut season, especially towards the end of the year, and has already managed to secure its first podium places in 2018. The Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team, featuring factory riders Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith, has been creating a buzz by exceeding all expectations with the KTM RC16, securing good qualifying results in their first MotoGPTM season, as well as regular top ten results and World Championship points. Standings in the points table at the start of the season mean that it’s already looking good for a successful second season for the KTM works team.

The KTM FAN PACKAGE includes admission and other exclusive goodies, and is available for the following Grand Prix races:

  • Mugello (ITA), June 1 to June 3, 2018, KTM FAN PACKAGES are available from KTM dealers or through our ticket partner, Global-Tickets
  • Assen (NED), June 29 to July 1, 2018, KTM FAN PACKAGES are available from KTM dealers or through our ticket partner, Global-Tickets
  • Sachsenring (GER), July 13 to July 15, 2018, KTM FAN PACKAGES are available from KTM dealers or through our ticket partner, Global-Tickets
  • Red Bull Ring (AUT), August 10 to August 12, 2018 (KTM YOUTH PACKAGE available), KTM FAN PACKAGES are available from KTM dealers or through our ticket partner, Global-Tickets

Further information and details about the KTM FAN PACKAGES are available here.

Photo: KTM
Video: Illuminati Productions



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A new challenge – Josep Garcia prepares for the World Enduro Super Series

It only seems like yesterday that Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Josep Garcia was crowned Enduro2 World Champion. But with KTM turning their attentions to the newly formed World Enduro Super Series, the young Spaniard is busy preparing for an altogether new challenge in 2018.

Josep’s speed on two-wheels is unquestionable. With his whole family riding bikes, the 21-year-old jokes that ‘fuel is in my blood’. Growing up racing motocross, he even spent a season road-racing in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup before settling on enduro.

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Josep Garcia (ESP) © Marcin Kin

Josep has won several Spanish championships before claiming his first world title in 2017. A new challenge now faces the fun-loving Spaniard, with the inaugural World Enduro Super Series kicking off with round one – Extreme XL Lagares – on May 11. A seven-race series, the WESS is made up of Hard Enduro, Classic Enduro, Cross-country and Beach Races. The KTM BLOG caught up with Josep to find out how he’s approaching his latest adventure.

We’re only a couple of weeks away from the first round of the World Enduro Super Series now, how are you feeling going into Extreme XL Lagares?
“I am feeling really good, I have been doing a lot of training for the WESS, especially on the KTM 300 EXC TPI, which I am really enjoying. I’m not sure how the race will go, but I’m ready to fight!”

With so many different types of events, the WESS is going to be very different to the EnduroGP championship, how have you altered your training to prepare for the series?
“Over the winter I have been concentrating on the extreme riding. I know my pace on the Classic Enduros will be fine but improving my speed on the more technical terrain has been my priority up to now. As the season goes on, the whole team will look at the calendar and prepare specifically for the next round as there are so many different styles of event – even the Hard Enduros are unique.

I’ll keep riding the KTM 250 EXC-F 4-stroke throughout the year too as I will also be riding the Spanish Enduro Championship. I want to keep a good feeling on the bike.”

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Josep Garcia (ESP) © Marcin Kin

You entered the Bassella Race 1 Xtreme back in February and came fifth, just a few minutes from the win and beating some of the Hard Enduro regulars in the process. How did you find the event and did it help to prepare you for the WESS season ahead?
“Bassella was the first race I did on the KTM 300 EXC TPI  and it was really good training for the Hard Enduros in the WESS. We did the race using a GPS as well and I enjoyed that a lot, especially as it was good practice for Red Bull Romaniacs at the end of July.

I started really well in the race and even passed Alfredo, then as we were coming onto the faster section I hit a rock and broke my rear brake lever. After that I didn’t want to push too hard and risk crashing so I eased off a bit. I was so happy with the result though and it shows my training is working.“

So, the KTM 300 EXC TPI 2-stroke for the Hard Enduros, the KTM 250 EXC-F 4-stroke for the Classic Enduros, what about the Red Bull Knock Out Beach Race at the end of the year, do you fancy having a go on a KTM 450 SX-F?
“The team and I haven’t really discussed that yet, so I am not sure whether to go for the KTM 350 SX-F or KTM 450 SX-F. One of the most important things in the sand is rider fitness, the start is also important – you have to get away at the front. I am not too heavy so maybe the KTM 350 SX-F will be enough, we will have to do some testing nearer the event.”

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Josep Garcia (ESP) © Marcin Kin

Your speed and motocross skills could come in very handy there.
“Yes, I like motocross tests, but Red Bull Knock Out is something different. It is all held in deep sand and it makes things very tough. I think Nathan Watson will do very well there and I will certainly need to train before the race to get used to it. We don’t have that much deep sand in Catalonia where I live so I think I will go to test in France to train in the sand.”

The KTM Enduro Factory Racing Team is now five-strong. You know Nathan from your time in EnduroGP, how well do you get along with the others in the group?
“I think we have a really good team, Nathan is great but also Taddy, Jonny and Cody are all really nice people – we have a lot of fun when we train together. Already we have built up a good relationship within the group and I think we’ll enjoy the season working and travelling together.”

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Nathan Watson (GBR), Jonny Walker (GBR) & Josep Garcia (ESP) © Marcin Kin

Have you been able to learn anything from the other members of the team, they all have strengths in different areas?
“Yeah for sure. When I go training with the extreme riders I always take a lot of care to see how they approach different obstacles. I have learnt so much already but there are still areas where I can improve. Even between Taddy, Jonny and Cody, they all have different techniques. Taddy really attacks things, Cody is very tall so his style is different. Jonny is a mixture of the two, he has some really good pace in the fast stuff but is also very good at the slower technical riding.”

As Enduro2 World Champion you know your speed is good on the Classic Enduros but which events are you actually looking forward to the most, perhaps something you haven’t tried before?
“I am looking forward to the extreme races, initially because I want to see where my level is compared to the Hard Enduro experts. I can’t wait to go to Erzberg, not just because of the race but because of the whole event – there are so many fans there and it looks like a really good event. Of course, I am still looking forward to Le Trefle because I like riding the grass test and I hope it will be one of my strongest events.”

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Josep Garcia (ESP) © Marcin Kin

What about the Gotland Grand National, a cross-country race that normally ends up being extremely muddy, are you looking forward to giving that one a go?
“Oh yeah! Gotland will be very interesting, not just for the muddy sections but for the 1000s of people who race there – it will certainly be an amazing experience. Again, we’ll have to do some specialist training before that event.”

Finally, with the points system in the WESS rewarding consistency throughout the series, will you approach the championship differently to EnduroGP for example? A DNF at the WESS could mean the end to your campaign.
“I have always said that the guy who wins the WESS will be the guy who finishes all the races. He may not even win any of the events but yes, it is important to perform well. Maybe even fourth, fifth or sixth will be enough as long as you take points in every race. Hopefully with some top results in the races where I am strong and some good finishes in the others, I will be in with a shot at the title.”

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Josep Garcia (ESP) © Marcin Kin

The World Enduro Super Series begins with the Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal from May 11 to 13.

Photos: Marcin Kin


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5 things you might not have known about tires & MXGP

Posted in Bikes, Racing

Italian brand Pirelli is dominant in the FIM Motocross World Championship with almost 70 titles in all categories. How and why are they so successful and what goes into their MXGP program? We asked the official supplier to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team …

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KTM 450 SX-F 2018 © Ray Archer

1. Yes, tires are still important in motocross

Pirelli’s MX Race Service Manager, Roberto Pasquale Sanzone, has been working for the company for twenty years and through various racing disciplines in both cars and bikes. For the last five he has been in charge of motocross and has headed the introduction of the new ‘MX Soft’ product into MXGP; seemingly the tire of choice for most of the Red Bull KTM crew. The Austrian factory team is a high-profile sect of the twenty riders Pirelli have in the FIM Motocross World Championship and thanks to this alliance have banked a wealth of victories, podiums and titles since the beginning of the decade.

In MotoGPTM Michelin’s efforts form the foundation of every single Grand Prix. The performance of the slick or rain tires is crucial to the sport and even the integrity of the series: in more ways than one the tires are the ‘root’ of the racing.

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Glenn Coldenhoff (NED, #259), Tony Cairoli (ITA, #222) & Jeffrey Herlings (NED, #84) Trentino (ITA) 2018 © Ray Archer

The diversity of terrain and the climate conditions on any given day in MXGP means that grip and traction is paramount but scrutiny of the rubber is not so pronounced. While road racing requires compounds that will function under severe temperatures, weight and abrasion – a terrific amount of force – motocross is almost the same but in a different way: the unrelenting rough ground, the energy on the tread pattern and the hard landings from big jumps. Not to mention necessary efficiency in arguably the most important element of a Grand Prix moto; the start from the metal gate grill.

“The start is the main point in this championship and for the last two years when we have been using the metal grid,” says Pasquale. “Grip and traction is obviously something that every rider wants and we work towards. A strong point for Pirelli in this series is in having all those official riders and we can learn from every single guy. We can get a good average feeling for what a rider and racer will need.”

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Agueda (POR) 2018 © Ray Archer

Pirelli and other brands like Dunlop use MXGP extensively as a test-bed for their products. Grand Prix can visit a sandy circuit one week, hard-pack the next, heavy mud and dusty and stony surfaces. The likes of Tony Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings are also pushing their technical packages to the max. “We listen to all the feedback but finally we also look at the race tire choice,” comments Pasquale. “If the top riders are using the same tire every race and they are winning, setting the best lap-time and taking holeshots then we know that tire can perform! Sometimes the fastest rider can make a wrong decision but ten others might make the right one.”

2. Pirelli have a busy race service at every Grand Prix

The yellow truck is one of the more prominent in the technical supplier section of the paddock. Pirelli’s tire crew is working constantly with teams and mechanics to ensure Grand Prix wheels are correctly fitted and prepped. “We bring about 300-400 tires each race, it depends on the track,” Pasquale says of the racks and racks of black ‘circles’ neatly positioned inside the facility. “We’ll use one race service truck with a crew of 3-4 people. We have to be ready for every possibility and weather condition as well as any rider request, so we bring more or less our whole range.”

“The crew works a lot at the circuit,” he adds. “Every rider likes a different setup such as a different mousse or they have a different method to work, like starting a race with a used tire. Some need a new tire with every gatedrop. It depends on the mentality of the rider but in terms of performance a new or used tire is exactly the same. The mousse is a personal choice and it depends on the condition of the track and the weather. Sometimes we use a mousse that you can consider has 0.8 bar of pressure, sometimes the same rider at the same track will want a 1.3, very different. We try to follow every type of request.”

The nature of the Grand Prix determines how much of the truck contents are used before heading back to the factory. “It depends,” Pasquale says. “If we come from a sand race where the wear is not so high and go to hard-pack like Arco di Trento that is far tougher on the tires. Sometimes we can use 2-300 per GP.”

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Agueda (POR) 2018 © Ray Archer

3. Testing doesn’t happen as much as you think

Pasquale emphasizes that “development never stops” but when it comes to testing and analyzing new tires very little happens during the races, infrequently during the year and then only when Pirelli are sure they have a concept that will work.

“We prefer not to change the tire because of some idea that comes up at the weekend,” Pasquale states. “If there is a theory then we prefer to share and discuss back at the company and workshop and we make a clear decision for everybody. We don’t like to experiment much at the races but when we go testing that is another thing and we can try any kind of specification and can invent something.”

One luxury motocross enjoys compared to every other closed-circuit motorcycle sport is the frequency that riders can train and practice with the same machinery. This means that a large chunk of Pirelli’s work and information collection happens away from the pressure and spotlight of a Grand Prix track. Pasquale: “The riders are training almost every day so they can try the tires whenever. So new tires can come around at any time in the year, not necessarily January or December.”

For most people a motocross tire will seem and feel very similar. “If you look at the MX mid-soft 32 it looks the same as a tire that has been used for thirty years!” Pasquale smiles. “But the compound, construction and everything is so different: we are now on a really good level.” This is where the delicate skills and feeling of MXGP professionals comes in handy. “Good sensitivity is not a common trait. From a performance point of view the new MX Soft is not even comparable to the previous tire. We introduced it last year at the Grand Prix of Belgium. Not everybody used it then because it was so new but only after a few weeks and at Assen for the Dutch GP everyone had it.”

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Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Agueda (POR) 2018 © Ray Archer

Grand Prix riders: a special breed. Which leads us into …

4. Riders don’t like to embrace too much change

Although Pirelli will not swamp a factory rider with a myriad of options – the tire range only has around seven-eight models, some specific to particular terrain – the athletes themselves are not too picky anyway, according to Pasquale. “The riders use the tires and are not too fussy or wasteful. They are professional in this respect and I’m really grateful for that because the level they are pushing is very high and hard.”

“We also think a rider doesn’t really want to change something he knows. Occasionally it can be hard for us to convince them to try a new product because they are so familiar with the old … this is something strange in motocross.”

Tires might not be as crucial to race setup as say suspension, gearing or engine mapping but it is still an essential component. Therefore, it is normal that a satisfied racer will not seek a change that could swing either way in terms of effectiveness. “They usually stick with the same tires. Of course, there might be one rider in the team who has his own ideas but generally they are consistent. I’m really happy in one way because the KTM guys have really embraced our new products – they have that trust in us – and the MX Soft has been popular. That tire is partially a result of the work we have done with them.”

Pirelli’s work is not only carried out with the likes of Cairoli, Herlings, Coldenhoff, Jonass and Prado. “We like to test with all of our riders, sometimes some ‘unofficial’ riders and then also some test riders,” Pasquale reveals. “We use as many types of bike and rider as possible for the test. We don’t want a tire for one specific brand or type of bike.”

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Pauls Jonass (LAT) KTM 250 SX-F Trentino (ITA) 2018 © Ray Archer

5. There is no such thing as a ‘special’ MX tire. You can use the same as the MXGP stars.

A works KTM 450 SX-F or KTM 250 SX-F might have unique parts and components that the normal rider or KTM fan will never be able to use or buy. In contrast Pirelli’s ‘universal’ approach to their product means a ‘special’ provision for MXGP riders is highly unusual. They will hardly ever hand-cut a tread for a rider. “We have very few ‘special’ tires but when we do we develop it to a point where it will be in the following year’s range to buy: this is our philosophy,” says Pasquale. “We don’t follow one rider we follow the group. We make a product that many will want to use and will easily suit people.”

“Our target is to develop tires that we can sell and not just for racing,” he adds. “Sometimes it is difficult for people to believe the same tire we use in a Grand Prix of the world championship is the same you can buy at a dealer and take home … but it is like this.”

Photos: Ray Archer
Video: Luca Piffaretti


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Interview of the Month: “WESS is what enduro needs and I want to win it” – Taddy Blazusiak

Taddy’s back and his goal is simple, win the 2018 World Enduro Super Series …

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Taddy Blazusiak (POL) © Marcin Kin

Taddy Blazusiak is a rider who needs little introduction to fans of enduro and offroad motorcycle racing. A five-time consecutive Erzbergrodeo winner, as the most dominant indoor enduro rider ever, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, Taddy’s pretty much conquered it all. All except the World Enduro Super Series.

Hanging up his professional racing boots in December 2016, Taddy called time on what was an illustrious racing career. But no sooner he had ridden off towards a well-deserved retirement, the ripening apple that is WESS quickly enticed him to return. Tempted by the mixed-discipline series that combines hard enduro, classic enduro, cross-country and beach racing across some of the world’s most prestigious events, Taddy knew he had some unfinished business to attend to. And with the title of ‘Ultimate Enduro Champion’ up for grabs, the Polish maestro now has his sights set on the sweet taste of success in 2018.

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Taddy Blazusiak (POL) © Marcin Kin

“To be honest I’ve been waiting for a championship like this for years. I think WESS is the real enduro series I’ve been looking for,” tells Blazusiak. “I love the concept. The calendar offers a varied mix of events starting in rocky Portugal and ending on the beach in The Netherlands with classic enduro, hard enduro and cross-country racing in-between.”

“Personally, I feel that this is what enduro needs – this is what our sport needs to advance. Enduro has many individual disciplines, so I think this will be a series for the real all-round, offroad racer. It fits a rider who can ride technical terrain or go sixth gear flat out down a beach.”

“Personally, I feel that this is what enduro needs – this is what our sport needs to advance.”

Starting in Portugal with the Extreme XL Lagares in May, the seven-round WESS championship takes in the iconic Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble during the first weekend of June. With little time to catch their breath, it then moves to France where riders will compete five days later at Trèfle Lozérien AMV. Switching gears, July’s Red Bull Romaniacs hosts round four before Taddy’s signature race, Red Bull 111 Megawatt, marks round five in September. Finally, Sweden’s Gotland Grand National and The Netherlands Red Bull Knock Out close out the WESS 2018 at the end of October and beginning of November respectively. Covering a vast array of events, WESS brings together a wealth of different disciplines that will see competitors dig deep into their skill set during the year. A championship where experience counts, Taddy feels that will be where his strengths lie.

“I’m a pretty good all-round guy – I can adapt. I’ve been around for a long time now so I know all the disciplines we’ll race. I know how to prepare for each one and prepare my bike too. I can swap from a 2-stroke bike to a 4-stroke bike easily enough depending on where we are racing, so I think that the ability to adapt will help me a lot.”

“Starting the series strongly is critical so we will focus hard to be ready for rounds one and two, while trying to work on the speed elements necessary for round three at Trèfle Lozérien. After that we can dedicate more time specifically to each event because we have a decent window of testing between each round.”

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Taddy Blazusiak (POL) © Marcin Kin

Known for his success in hard enduro, it’s actually the classic enduro format of the Trèfle Lozérien in France which excites Taddy the most. As the oldest discipline of enduro, he feels the history attached to traditional timecard racing needs to be embraced and celebrated. One of the purest forms of racing, it’s rider and machine against the clock – the fastest man wins.

“Of course, I’m known for SuperEnduro and hard enduro but I would like to see more classic enduro events added as the series develops,” offers Taddy. “I’ve done a lot of those races over the years and I love the discipline. It’s the pure sprinting aspect of timed special test racing that makes it special for me. It’s going to be hard competing against some of the grass track specialists at the Trèfle Lozérien but that’s also the challenge of WESS – adapting to different disciplines as best you can.”

“In all other disciplines you race your competitors shoulder-to-shoulder on the track at the same time, whereas with classic enduro it’s head-to-head against the clock. You are basically riding with 100 per cent commitment to go as fast as you can during each special test. It’s a cool way of racing that has so much history attached to it – it’s something that shouldn’t be forgotten about.”

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Taddy Blazusiak (POL) © Marcin Kin

Mixing old with new, the Red Bull 111 Megawatt – Taddy’s signature race – is the youngest event on the 2018 WESS calendar. While events like the Trèfle Lozérien and Gotland Grand National are long established races with over 35 years of history each, September will mark the fourth edition of Megawatt. But despite its youth, it has quickly become Poland’s largest offroad race with the 1000 strong entry selling out in minutes. For Taddy, having the event as part of WESS brings an immense sense of pride. With its unique style Red Bull 111 Megawatt unquestionably embodies the spirit of WESS.

“Our race has grown so much in the last couple of years and it’s great to see it as part of WESS for 2018 – it’s a perfect fit for the series too,” explains Taddy. “Red Bull 111 Megawatt is labelled as hard enduro but it steers towards cross-country and even beach racing due to the sandy, multi-lap format of Sunday’s main event. Saturday’s qualifications are essentially special tests, so it even ticks the classic enduro box too a little. The Red Bull 111 Megawatt is WESS all in the one race.”

“But what’s more important is that it is about rider participation, something that’s unique to enduro, which no other form of motorcycling has. We’ve got over 1,000 riders of all ability, all racing together at the same time on the same track. It removes the elitist element from sport – on the start line everyone is equal.”

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Taddy Blazusiak (POL) © Marcin Kin

As a five-time winner of the Erzbergrodeo Red Bull Hare Scramble, the KTM rider knows what it’s like to stare down 1,800 entrants chasing the top step of the podium. With those wins coming consecutively from 2007 until 2011 on KTM machinery, it not only launched Blazusiak to the top of the world stage but ensured his name became synonymous with the Austrian race. When you talk about Erzbergrodeo’s Iron Giant, Blazusiak’s name is only ever a breath away.

“I have a lot of history with the Red Bull Hare Scramble, it’s helped build my career to where it is today. Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself winning it five times in a row with KTM. That will always stand as one of my greatest achievements in my career.”

“But I love the Erzbergrodeo because it’s so much more than just a race – it’s become a real dirt bike festival. Everyone is there because they all love the same thing, which is doing crazy things on enduro bikes. The level of competition has grown so much and there are a lot of guys easily capable of winning but I also feel that I’m one of them.”

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Taddy Blazusiak (POL) © Marcin Kin

And where the outcome of this year’s World Enduro Super Series is concerned, he feels he can take on the best of them and win. Never one to do things half-heartedly, he’s got his eyes set on the biggest trophy of them all – that of becoming the Ultimate Enduro Champion.

“I didn’t come out of retirement to just ‘make up the numbers’,” asserts Taddy. “I race to win championships, so if I’m doing something I’m in it to do it right, at maximum effort. Winning WESS would be massive, like I said, it’s a dream championship for me and it’s the reason why I’m back.”

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Taddy Blazusiak (POL) © Marcin Kin

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing begin their participation in the seven-round World Enduro Super Series in Portugal with the Extreme XL Lagares on May 11-13.

Photos: Marcin Kin


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Supersport 300: More orange success

The strong connection between KTM and the Netherlands is hard to miss. Jeffrey Herlings and Glenn Coldenhoff are going strong for the Austrian manufacturer, while the orange bond has been further strengthened with the coming of KTM Fortron Racing Team in World Supersport 300.

For years Arie Vos was the man to beat in the Netherlands. Both in Supersport 600 as well as the Superbike class, he was the uncatchable man. He took a grand total of eight national titles and tried his luck also internationally. Unfortunately, that adventure did not pan out as the Dutchman had hoped. After that one chance, he was never given another, as he had started out his racing career at a relatively late age. “I was already 28 years old when I had my first wild card in World Supersport 600. At that point I’d only been racing for three years,” Vos explains. “I showed quick progress, but obviously my age played a part. I came home eighth for that wild card attempt, which wasn’t bad at all. If I would’ve been twenty at the time, things might’ve went very different from there. I’m not sad about it at all; I had a great run, winning eight titles nationally. I gave it my all.”

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Arie Vos (NED) © Shot Up Productions

The former racer has since quit the racing game a few years ago, but nowadays he’s all about mentoring young talent in motor racing. As co-owner of Vos Oss Motoren (KTM dealership in the south of the Netherlands) he’s been part of the popular KTM RC CUP since 2015. “When you first retire, you’re glad to have your weekends back, no more endless weekends hanging around racetracks. Just doing whatever you like, spending time with the kids, which is a lot of fun and very important to me. But then I came across the opportunity to set up the cup in the Netherlands and dove into the adventure head first. I love giving young riders a chance at the fun of racing, same as I got. I really like helping them get ahead in the sport, if there’s ever a chance.”

Hectic preparations
With the launch of World Supersport 300 in 2017, Vos saw potential to make that dream come true; setting up his own team and go racing in a world championship. “For me that championship couldn’t have been any more perfect. I actually wanted to start out last season, but KTM wasn’t ready to be competitive from the word go, and since KTM doesn’t do things without being fully prepared, we had to wait.” Fully prepared came with a name; the KTM RC 390 R. “The changes aren’t massive, but they’ll definitely help you maximize the fun on track. Despite the minor changes, it does take quite a bit of time and money to develop. That made the preparations a bit hectic for us.”

The past weeks have been tough on Vos and his brother, who also had to run the store in the meanwhile. “It was pretty much impossible to combine the two, so I’ll be glad when the first two races are behind us. Then we can finally take a breather, since things should be running well by then. Unfortunately, we’ve been desperate for time lately, since parts were coming in very late in the preseason.” Though the start wasn’t as hoped, KTM Fortron Racing Team showed its prowess in the first two tests at Aragon. The KTM RC 390 R wasn’t at battle strength just yet, but showed great promise as they were already quite well in the mix.

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Glenn van Straalen (NED) KTM RC 390 R © Shot Up Productions

Boost in confidence
All three riders went on to warn the competition they weren’t there to fool around; they were going to be a force to be reckoned with. All three Dutch riders in the KTM Fortron Racing Team came from the KTM RC CUP, which is a big advantage. The basic bike is the same, so they’re very familiar with the machinery. Glenn van Straalen earns the title of being the first rider, as he managed to secure the CUP the last two seasons of running. The 17-year-old from the province of Noord-Holland is also the only one in the KTM Fortron Racing Team that has a little experience in World Supersport 300. “Last year I had a wildcard at Assen. Because the KTM lacked homologation, I ran a Honda CBR500. That bike couldn’t have been any more different from my KTM, so it took some time getting used to. Then I went down in FP1, leaving me with little training time to get accustomed. I only managed to qualify 16th , but in the race I made up a few places here and there. As the leading pack started to fall apart, I picked them off bit by bit. Going into the last lap, I’d found a comfortable position with the leaders and in the end I could secure a podium position.”

That second place meant a serious boost in confidence for Van Straalen, setting him up successfully for the rest of the 2017 season. Besides winning the KTM RC CUP, he also went on to become the Dutch Supersport 600-champ. Though he’d shown what he was capable of on a bigger bike, he chose to go to World Supersport 300 deliberately. “Weight and size-wise I’m more suited for a 600, but I know I can do better in the 300 Championship. I’ve been racing the KTM RC 390 for three seasons now; I know the bike inside out. Plus, I get to race a lot of different tracks I haven’t raced at yet, and Supersport 300 is a great class to get to know those circuits.”

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Glenn van Straalen (NED) KTM RC 390 R © Shot Up Productions

Important point
Though he’s the oldest rider in the team at age 23, and is experienced to boot, Koen Meuffels has an even bigger – pun intended – advantage in hand. Meuffels is a phone salesman from Someren (Noord-Brabant) and comes in at 1.60m, weighing a mere 48 kilos; you could say he is made for the KTM RC 390 R. “Yeah, that is really going to help me out in this class. I fit perfectly behind the fairing; anything that sticks out really slows you down, because you don’t have the power to compensate.” The urge to show his talent has only grown over the past years, mostly because of a tough period in 2015 and 2016. “I was forced to throw out two seasons in Dutch Supersport 600 because of epilepsy. I wasn’t allowed to race. So when I was declared fit, I chose the KTM RC 390 Cup. It felt like a step back at first, coming from a 600, but I’m glad I did. Now I’m getting a chance to mix it up in a world championship, which would’ve been so much harder to do on a 600.”

His rookie season in World Supersport 300 is an important point in Meuffels’ career. The results he pulls out of the hat in those eight races will direct his future in motorsports. “It’s now or never,” the KTM rider notes. “If I’m not satisfied with my season coming to the end of September when we finish at Magny-Cours, I’m quitting the racing game for good. I might help young riders instead, but I won’t be racing myself. The goal has always been to race in a world championship, and I’ve accomplished that now. I want to show what I’m capable of, but if that is not enough, then I have to be honest to myself. However, should I do well – which I expect – then I hope to take a step up a class. Though another season in World Supersport 300 might not be a bad idea. Just depends on what I come across.”

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Koen Meuffels (NED) KTM RC 390 R © Shot Up Productions

Genetically fast
The third rider in the team didn’t get the Vos moniker by chance, since Ryan Vos is Arie Vos’ nephew. Contrary to his two compatriots, eighteen-year-old Vos isn’t as experienced by far. The only experience in racing for Ryan Vos have been the past two seasons in the KTM RC CUP. It does show he’s genetically fast, because he got the results to show for it. Taking big steps and learning fast, the Dutchman worked his way forward in those two years. “I’ve had so much to thank my father and my uncle for ever since I started out racing. They’ve been helping me out wherever they can. I know I’m not too experienced just yet, but my uncle said I’d be up to it taking the next step. That’s why I’m confident I’ll do well in the world championship. I still have a lot to learn, but I have two experienced teammates to learn it from, too. And then there’s my uncle, who gives me tips and tricks at a constant. I hope I can repay his faith in me with results this season!”

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Ryan Vos (NED) KTM RC 390 R © Shot Up Productions

With distinction
Looks like the KTM RC 390 R is in the right hands, because the KTM Fortron Racing Team took their maiden win first time out. Koen Meuffels won the first World Supersport 300 race at Aragon with distinction. “It’s very special to take KTM’s first win in the championship,” Meuffels notes a day after lifting the trophy. “I needed a good start, and I managed that. Once I found myself in the front pack, I waited and pulled it out of the bag on the last lap. That panned out exactly as I’d planned, because I needed to be the third rider going onto the final straight. I reckoned slipstreaming those two would give me enough of an edge to take to the front on the line. I’m not sure the same trick should work again, because it’s all really close. You really need to keep something in store for when the time comes. If you can manage that, you can win.”

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Scott Deroue (NED), Koen Meuffels (NED) & Mika Perez (ESP) Aragon (ESP) 2018 © KTM

“It’s a dream come true,” the proud team manager said. “It’s been so hectic, getting ready for the season, but this makes it all worthwhile. That’s how you do! We showed what the KTM RC 390 R can do and it’s a great big thank you to KTM. They’ve put in so much hard work to prepare the bike for the world championship. Hard work pays off, and that’s great!”

Not just Meuffels gave it his all, Van Straalen was also right there when it mattered. In the closing stages he only just fell short to get on the rostrum, finishing 7th. Ryan Vos unfortunately crashed out, but all three KTM riders have shown they’re not in World Supersport 300 by accident. A hopeful start only fuels the need for more orange success. Is there more champagne of victory to come for the KTM Fortron Racing Team? Arie Vos: “Each and every rider in the leading group can win a race. Right now we have two riders that can take on the best. It’s impossible to tell whether or not they can make that assumption come true right now, but they’ve got a fighting chance. That’s for sure.”

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Ryan Vos (NED), Glenn van Straalen (NED), Koen Meuffels (NED) © Shot Up Productions

Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | KTM


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KTM is READY TO RACE WESS

Posted in Racing

KTM’s Factory Enduro stars are READY TO RACE WESS. A brand-new series that searches for the ultimate enduro champion, the World Enduro Super Series kicks off on May 11 at the Extreme XL Lagares in Portugal – one of many events in which the amateur race the pros in the true spirit of Enduro.

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f.l.t.r.: Cody Webb (USA), Nathan Watson (GBR), Taddy Blazusiak (POL), Jonny Walker (GBR) & Josep Garcia (ESP) © Marcin Kin

Recently crowned SuperEnduro World Champion and FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Cody Webb is joined by the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing line-up of Enduro2 World Champion Josep Garcia, multi-time World Champion Taddy Blazusiak, who is returning to competition from retirement, British-ace Nathan Watson, and multiple hard enduro winning Jonny Walker. It will be an exciting season of seven races that are world-renowned in their own right and the WESS racers will face different challenges that will test their abilities to the maximum with classic enduro, hard enduro and beach racing to find the best all-round rider. The series celebrates a dynamic calendar with a variety of challenges, and goes back to the grass roots at the best-loved enduro events with hundreds of riders battling alongside the pros.

With anticipation building ahead of the start of the WESS championship, and winter testing almost complete, we got an insight of what to expect at the forthcoming races during the recent team shooting in Spain. The riders will compete on both 2-stroke and 4-stroke machinery during the season, whilst not only having to battle each other, but the terrain and thousands of amateur racers and local experts that will line-up at each event. Here’s a few images from Spain and we look forward to the series kick off!

f.l.t.r.: Josep Garcia (ESP), Cody Webb (USA), Nathan Watson (GBR), Taddy Blazusiak (POL) & Jonny Walker (GBR) © Marcin Kin

Photos: Marcin Kin
Video: Future7Media



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