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Beach Life


Beach Life

Over 700 riders at Britain’s biggest beach race present a tough test of man and a KTM 250 EXC TPI fuel injected 2-stroke machine …


© Future7Media

The otherwise normal English seaside resort of Weston-Super-Mare undergoes a massive transformation each October. At other times of the year, it is like any other holiday resort town with ice cream parlors, beach huts and amusement arcades. Once a year that tranquility get swallowed by a festival of dirt bike racing, 70,000 spectators and almost 1000 riders over two days racing.

The KTM 250 EXC TPI and I are among over 700 riders tackling the solo race and you never realize the enormity of racing over 700 other people until you try to run with them and find your own bike in a densely packed parc fermé. It is like a comedy film with people running in their riding kit and falling over each to find their lost machines.


Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Future7Media

That’s just the beginning. Once on your bike you fight your way to the beach and when the gates are opened at 1 pm it is like an explosion. An angry scene of dirt bikes dance and fight for balance and grip, boots and handlebars interlock and roost flies as we all head for the same 180 degree turn over the first of a thousand dunes.

Within seconds everyone is flat-out down the mile long straight into a blinding spray of salt and sunshine. Throttle pinned down Weston’s mile-long straight at 130 km/h is the sort of racing experience you should crave and fear in equal measure.


Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Future7Media

Sitting right back on the rear fender, arms stretched to the bars helps keep the front tire skimming the surface and the back wheel in control but control feels like life on a knife-edge of crashing. Many bikes are faster still, including Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jonny Walker, on a KTM 450 SX-F for this event, and four times Enduro World Champion David Knight who were topping 150 km/h.

Beach race tracks famously blast down a long straight before snaking their ways back through twists, turns, dunes and endless, endless ruts. The sheer volume of traffic means the track changes constantly and queues, like crashes, are inevitable. It’s all part of the physical effort, the challenge and the fun.

For three hours this madness continues but after the fury of the start the race becomes a mental and physical test. Some riders, and obviously pro-riders, are taking the race seriously but for many of us it is that classic “taking part” that matters. To finish is an achievement. The madness pauses for pit stops when fuel, fresh goggles and a protein bar are consumed as quickly as you can muster.


Jonathan Pearson (GBR) KTM 250 EXC TPI © Future7Media

Under pinning my race is a faultless KTM 250 EXC TPI. The thrifty TPI engine easily does an hour between stops (more easily than the rider …) and takes around seven liters of fuel during each of two pit stops proving itself efficient despite so much full-throttle riding.

The salt water, footpeg-deep ruts and endless roost is why bike preparation is so important in beach racing. I’m new to it but careful pre-race preparation pays off with a perfect bike. I fit a new plug and sand guards over the radiators and air filter – mesh covers on the radiators and filter act as first defense and create a barrier. Supersprox steel tooth sprockets and a heavy-duty chain are vital too, as are fresh brake pads to cope with the axle deep, sandy ruts acting like grinding paste on these constantly battered parts.

There are bikes abandoned in the deep sand swamps from lap one and they remain there all race, petrified like Pompeii corpses. Under no illusions about my experience on sand my tactic was to keep plugging away, keep taking in fluid and keep myself upright. In the end getting inside the top 100 feels like a small victory from so far down at the start of this mighty event. It’s hard not to feel happy when you see a chequered flag but after three hours of this madness it was as sweet as they come.


© Future7Media

Photos: Future7Media


Interview of the Month: Laia Sanz – Dakar dreams and the challenges of the world’s toughest Rally

Now approaching its 40th year, the 10th to be held in South America, the Rally Dakar really is one of the toughest sporting events on the planet. More than 500 competitors will race for glory over 9,000 km of varied terrain through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. One of those competitors is Laia Sanz. Multiple world champion in trials and enduro, the ‘Queen of the Desert’ will be starting her eighth Dakar on January 6. The KTM BLOG caught up with Laia as she travelled to Morocco for her final training camp before the Rally starts in just over one month’s time.


Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY © Future7Media

After an incredibly successful trial and enduro career, you moved to rally – was that always the goal from the beginning?
“Yeah it was. My dream was always to race the Dakar. I can remember as a child being so excited to watch the Dakar on television. We are lucky in Spain that the coverage of the race has always been excellent with an hour-long program every night. As a child it was magical to watch the riders race through such incredible landscapes. Despite my love and fascination for the event, I never thought I would actually get the chance to race there myself.”

Obviously, the race was still held in Africa back then, do you think it has lost anything with the move to South America?
“Although the move had to be made for safety reasons, I do think the race did lose some of it’s magic. The iconic finish at the Lac Rose will always be something I would like to experience. Maybe one day we will again. I have spoken to riders who have raced both locations and they say that although sometimes they miss Africa, South America is also beautiful and presents even more of a challenge. Yes, the safety is better in the South American countries, but it is also a tougher race. There are so many different kinds of terrain and we have to race at altitude too, which can be very demanding.”

How do you deal with that challenge? The race is one of the toughest sporting events in the world. In this final run up to the start, how do you prepare yourself?
“This year I have been riding a lot of enduro, which helps with bike fitness and speed. Luckily, I have been injury-free and I am feeling fitter and better prepared than ever before. In this final month my training routine changes a little – we work on stamina so the sessions become longer. My work in the gym changes a little too and I also try to get in some good long rides on my bicycle to improve my endurance. The stages in Bolivia climb quite high in the mountains and to prepare for that I like to go skiing whenever I can, it’s great for cardio and altitude training. I have just arrived in Morocco for our final team training session and not only will we try to get in some long rides on the bike, but we do a lot of navigation work too, which is going to be incredibly important this year I think.”


Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY © Future7Media

Talking about navigation, it’s one of your strong points, and looking at the first week’s stages in Peru accurate navigation is going to be vital!
“My navigation is good, but not perfect. Last year I made a couple of mistakes that luckily didn’t cost me too much time – the most important thing is to learn from those mistakes and not repeat them. Even after riding seven Dakars and other rallies around the world, I’m still learning, still gaining experience. You are right, navigation this year will be difficult but I think that can be an advantage for me. I know I’m not as strong as the other riders and can’t always ride as fast, but if I ride intelligently and stay consistent it enables me to be competitive with even the top guys. The Dakar is not all about overall speed it´s about staying focused, being mentally and physically prepared and ultimately finishing the race.”

How do you handle the ‘strong in the mind’ side of the Dakar – days of riding with hardly any contact with other people and the stress of physical and mental exhaustion?
“It’s definitely the hardest part of the Rally Dakar for me. Even after a couple of days you start to feel drained and the lack of sleep only adds to that. You wake up feeling tired and then have to ride again all day. Unlike other races, when you finish riding you have to prepare your roadbook for the following day and then attend the rider’s meeting before you get any rest, it becomes really difficult. The loneliness can get to you, but there is a good side to riding alone too, you experience so many beautiful landscapes and I love the feeling of freedom the Dakar gives. Bad days can really cause you to start questioning why you are there though, but come the finish it’s definitely worth it.”

Do you have any superstitions that you stick to when riding?
“There is one thing I can’t do without and that is a pendent of Saint Anthony that my grandmother gave me for my first Dakar. Saint Anthony is the patron saint of lost things and has kept me safe, so now, I wouldn’t ride without it.”


Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY © Future7Media

Looking at the route this year, do you think it will suit you?
“I think a lot of the riders have missed the sand over the last couple of years, but after a week in Peru everyone will be sick of it again (laughs). I’m lucky that I have had some experience riding there in 2012 and 2013 and for me it was the best part – more like the original Dakar in Africa. It’s going to be difficult and require good navigation, but I’m looking forward to it. The second week will be a lot harder for me. We have two marathon stages and it will be really hot in Argentina, that all comes after a week of hard riding so everyone will be very tired already.”

How do you handle the marathon stages, do you enjoy the challenge?
“I hate the marathon stages. I am not very good at the mechanical side so if something needs to be fixed on the bike, I am not so good at that. You don’t get the same quality of sleep as you do in the bivouac so they are even more tiring. The mental side is hard too because you don’t see your people at the end of the day, you don’t see your mechanic or the team and that’s tough. On the stage before, you have to ride a little more carefully so you don’t crash and damage the bike because if you break something it could be the end of the race.”

What would you say your goals are? Are you aiming for another top-10 finish?
“I don’t like to put too much pressure on myself. The level is so high now, there is a new generation of riders coming through that have incredible speed on the stages. There are more riders than ever with the capability of taking the win. Looking at the start list makes you think it will be very difficult to finish inside the top-30, but it’s not always like that. The Dakar requires so many different skills and it’s not just speed that takes you to the win. The last few years I have either been inside the top-15 or very close to it, so there is no reason why I can’t do it again. My expectations for this year have been boosted a little by the new bike too, it really suits me and my riding style.”

Tell us about the new KTM 450 RALLY, did you have much input into its development and where are the biggest improvements?
“I’m so happy riding the new bike, it felt so good In Morocco back in October at the OiLibya Rally. The team have done an amazing job because it really is better in all areas – it’s not only lighter and faster but it’s more stable and that makes such a difference on the stages. When you hit an unexpected hole or jump the bike always stays straight and that is such a big improvement. For me, I know I’m not as strong as some of the other guys in the team so to have a more nimble, lighter bike is perhaps even more important. Hopefully it can take me to the finish of another Dakar and to another good result … ”


Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 RALLY © Future7Media

Photos: Future7Media


Moto2 is coming: The completion of the KTM ‘scale’ to the top of MotoGP™

Posted in Bikes, Racing

Orange everywhere. The Red Bull machines were impossible to miss in Moto2 for what was another ‘debut’ term for the factory in Grand Prix. The riders spoke about the journey.

While MotoGPTM routinely hit the headlines for KTM in 2017, the factory’s intermediate class efforts were going quietly understated. That axis shifted at Phillip Island, Sepang and Valencia. In the last three rounds of the season, Miguel Oliveira won three consecutive times with Brad Binder joining him on the podium in the Moto2 category. The rate of evolution and results not only made the WP Performance Systems-framed machine the most successful from KTM’s assault on the asphalt this year but also one of the most vital in completing the KTM ladder. Oliveira was third in the championship with nine trophies overall.


Miguel Oliveira (POR, #44) & Brad Binder (RSA, #41) Valencia (ESP) 2017 © Gold and Goose

In a sense, Moto2 was an even bigger mountain for the KTM AG than their cousins in MotoGPTM: two relative rookies to the class with the Portuguese and South African and a brand new chassis and knowledge and management of Dunlop tires with the standard 600cc powerplant. It was quite a curve to negotiate. MotoGPTM was a big and entirely new concept but the team was armed with experienced riders and staff. Moto2? Take a card from the deck.

Challenging the might of Kalex – the brand had the nine first riders in the final 2016 ranking – was already a hefty task but the WP technicians both for chassis and suspension setup had their ideas for maximizing traction and reducing wear. Then it was down to the riders, and both Moto3 world champ Binder (desperately trying to recover fitness and confidence from a broken left arm that required three further procedures) and Oliveira, one of the smartest riders on the grid, gathered pace quickly.


Miguel Oliveira (POR) & Brad Binder (RSA) Barcelona (ESP) 2017 © Gold and Goose

“To think back to where I started in Qatar – 20th and something like forty seconds from the leader – and to be on the podium for the last three races is an incredible feeling,” said a relieved Binder at Valencia. “We made great progress this year and every time I’m on the bike I am learning something new. I want to keep the structure we have and keep chipping away every weekend.”

“We tested a lot throughout the season – like many teams – and got new material but we found out that the actual [base] bike is quite good,” says Miguel. “The only upgrade we really made was something to the front fairing for the hands. That was basically it! We lacked speed in the first races and we struggled to understand new tires with a lot of fuel, chatter and vibration and at the end of the race. We were going all over the bike, up-and-down-back-and-forward to understand what to do. By the end of the season – even before – I could have won a race but it never happened. I was [then] curious by the fact that when I won Brad came second or third. It was quite alarming for everyone else and for them to say ‘KTM has something we don’t … ’ but, through riding with the other guys on the track, I feel we have a competitive bike and not superior to others.”

“The bike has not changed so much since the beginning of the season,” affirms Binder of a contest that enforces technical parity. “What I have noticed in the last few races is that we have played with the setup and we end up going back to our base setting. When Miguel started to win I started to get a lot better as well and it set off a few alarms [for rivals] but it is honestly pretty much the same bike.”


Brad Binder (RSA) Valencia (ESP) 2017 © Gold and Goose

If 2017 confirmed anything then it is KTM’s potency in every class of Grand Prix. Moto3 – by Pit Beirer’s own admission – had been a “disaster” but forces were already in place to improve the package for 2018. Nevertheless, the success of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, the proliferation of KTM machinery in Moto3 and the progress of the effort in MotoGPTM to reduce a deficit of 2.5 seconds a lap to the leaders to less than a second was startling. Moto2 filled the gap perfectly by showing that the WP specialists knew their way around a competitive frame and KTM were harboring two more special racers that will be chomping at the bit to try ‘promotion’ to MotoGPTM from 2019 onwards. “The goal of KTM is to fight for the championship in 2018 but not to finish so [far] up this year,” confessed Oliveira. “Like any new project you start it and you don’t know what to expect. You then start to understand the potential sooner or later and this season it happened very soon.”

“For some reason they have found more grip and this is the advantage right now,” said 2017 World Champion Franco Morbidelli after chasing the KTMs at the tail end of the campaign. “The Kalex grips when the tire is new but then there is a drop, not as much as theirs. Miguel has been very fast since the beginning of the year but he made another step since Australia.”


Miguel Oliveira (POR, #44) & Franco Morbidelli (ITA, #21) Valencia (ESP) 2017 © Gold and Goose

Like they did in Moto3 in 2012, KTM have shown their hand in Moto2 and more hardware could litter the grid very soon as the class faces up to an engine spec change in a year’s time. The rungs in the ladder are in place for the manufacturer to groom special talent all the way through the system.

“We have our own strategy for young riders and since we are now also involved in Moto2 and MotoGPTM the whole story makes sense for us,” says Beirer. “We have been supporting the Rookies Cup for more than ten years now and this develops [racers] for the whole paddock; sometimes we were jealous to grow these riders and not have the chance to use some of them! Now with having a big Moto3 project with fifteen bikes next season and a Moto2 where we can still have contact with our riders then hopefully we can have one of our own rookies on a MotoGPTM bike one day. That is the target of our program.”

“I think like Red Bull has the junior team and top team in Formula 1 it would be a goal for them to do it in MotoGPTM [so you could] have two years of understanding how it works,” Oliveira muses. “We are linked in that direction even if there is another department in KTM taking care of the Moto2 project which is WP. Everything is basically connected. It feels ‘safe’ to be in this project because you could end up there [MotoGPTM].”

“I feel lucky to have arrived in the Red Bull KTM at the time I did,” says Binder. “With doing well last year in Moto3 and opening up the team here in Moto2 it made the perfect stepping stone for me. It is awesome because you end up having the same people around you more or less. It’s a real family atmosphere and makes coming to the track an absolute pleasure and the hard days a lot easier.”


Miguel Oliveira (POR) & Pit Beirer (GER) Sachsenring (GER) 2017 © Philip Platzer

While Beirer again reiterated his message at Valencia that KTM’s racing department will not ease-off none of the other disciplines like Motocross, Supercross, Enduro and Rally where they have reaped victory and spoils (“not 1%” assured the German) there is little doubting the scope and skills that have made road racing bigger and stronger than ever within the halls of the workshop at Munderfing. It slightly boggles the mind where the factory can go next.

Photos: Gold and Goose | Philip Platzer
Video: Ajo Motorsport


His last road to Dakar #2

This will be the final time former GP racer Jurgen van den Goorbergh prepares for the toughest of all rallies; the Rally Dakar. The 47-year-old is neck deep into his preparations for his tenth go at the race. In three episodes we will be following his endeavors.


© Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Though he came to Experience Island to train with his Dakar bike, he’s mostly been sitting in his Mercedes Sprinter van, clearly very busy on the phone. “Sponsor related business; without them this all goes away, so …”, Jurgen explains. “It really does take up more of your preparation time than most realize. Budget to go do the Dakar doesn’t just fall out of the sky, you know.” In that respect, Van Den Goorbergh has been very lucky to have built himself a network of faithful sponsors; all the same brands that adorned his bike last year are back again on the new KTM. “When I did my first Dakar back in 2009, I had a big advantage in that people knew me as a GP rider. Most of the companies that currently back me have actually come from my performances in the Rally Dakar, not my past career in the GPs. I quite like that; they really appreciate me as a Dakar rider.”

Because of his relative fame in the Netherlands, and his Dakar experience, Jurgen van den Goorbergh won’t need to be calling companies for sponsoring any time soon. He does, however, put in the hours to give back to those who support him. “Getting sponsored requires a goodwill factor. You have to really build a bond. Plus, companies want to promote themselves through you, so it all has to look the part.” And then there’s the publicity; an important factor in sponsorship. “Brands help me do the Dakar, but then they do want something in return, obviously. I can show off their products and services via my social media channels. I have amassed quite a few followers – a lot of them from my time in MotoGPTM. That helps, it really makes things easier.”


Van den Goorbergh puts in a lot of effort to satisfy his sponsors. © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

No cheap adventure
How critical it is to get good sponsors becomes even more clear when you hear what a Dakar entry costs. “I race in the Malle Moto class, so I have no service team with me to help me out. It’s the purest form of Dakar racing, that is why I do it. And logically not having to run and pay for an entire team really makes a difference budget wise. Still, to run in this class, you burn through about 50,000 euros. Still quite a lot of cash, but it is by far the cheapest way to race in the Rally Dakar. If you manage to buy your way into a team, you’ll be looking at a number between 75,000 to a 125,000 euros.”

Those numbers cover all the costs to run the Dakar, not including preparation. Those 50,000 euros do include the bike, parts, entry fee, and everything Jurgen van den Goorbergh might need during those two weeks in South America. “It has become practically impossible for any enduro rider to go and do the Dakar. Some of these guys have been saving for years for this, and nowadays you have to have a certain skill level, that requires you to partake in a few rallies here and there to even be allowed to race in the Rally Dakar. Those rallies cost a lot as well.”

Part of the budget goes to getting publicity for the sponsors. “The Rally Dakar is big in the Netherlands, but there’s only commercial channel that actively broadcasts the racing. If you want your face on the TV, you’re going to have to pay for it. A smart move on their part, because as a participant you’re going to need it. Your sponsors want to see their logo on the television.” Apart from the daily broadcasts during the rally, the TV-station organizes an annual Dakar Preprologue in the Netherlands. Jurgen van den Goorbergh attended as well. “That costs a couple bucks too, but it does get you a lot of extra publicity. And apart from the business side of things a lot of Dakar fans rock up too. So it’s good to showcase yourself there.” Well over 17,000 spectators watched the 47-year-old win the preprologue bike race with ease. “That race it’s hardly worth mentioning, but you still want to win it. Luckily I managed to do just that, as I did last year.”


© Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Stamps galore
With all those faithful sponsors backing him, Jurgen van den Goorbergh can only look towards his tenth Rally Dakar with confidence, as the start of that first stage is coming closer every day now. His self-built KTM rally bike is on its way to South America as we speak. “When you load up your machine in Le Havre, it feels like some sort of start. You are about to embark on something you’ve been training for months, taking over your entire life.” The loading happens well over a month before the start of the rally. “I get up really early, because I have to check in at 9:15am. That’s when I get my stamp booklet, which has to be filled with all the right stamps and accompanied by the right papers.” First task at hand is mounting the navigation system the organizers hand you. “You’re in charge of mounting the GPS yourself and you have to make sure it works properly, once you’re all done you get the first stamp. The bike check is similar; if it’s okay, you get to pass to the next area on the shipyard. To where you actually hand over everything. They crate up the bike and when you’re in the Malle Moto class this is also the time to load up the box – which goes into a separate container.”

Apart from loading up your bike and gear, you also have to show all the necessary documents. Things like your passport, driver’s license, visa, bike registration, racing licenses, vaccination cards, etc. “It’s quite a bit of paperwork, and it too takes a lot of time to get together. All and all the organizers will keep you busy for a good four hours before you’re set to head home. Works riders have it easy; they just send a mechanic to arrange it all. It isn’t required to show up in person.”

If for some reason things aren’t entirely in order – like leaving a certain document on the kitchen table back home – you’re not in too much trouble of not making it to the start. “No need to worry, those things can all easily be handled later. The most important thing is to get your bike loaded. It has never happened that they didn’t bring your gear over. You really messed up if your bike doesn’t make it through scrutineering.”


© Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Not to worry
It might sound a bit weird coming from a nine time entrant, but Van den Goorbergh is actually enjoying the fact this will be his final rally on South America soil. “It all gets a bit tough preparing it all. You’re not just getting physically ready, but the mental aspect gets tiring too. There’s just so much you have to arrange and make sure of, especially just before shipping up. By then I’ll be getting quite weary, trying to combine it all with the everyday hassles of work. That is not at all easy”, Van den Goorbergh admits. “That is why a DNF can really get you down. Last year I was out just four days into the race. Leaving you standing there … Sponsors have put in a lot of money and I put in so much time and energy, only to be finished so quickly. You can imagine the hardship you endure just because of that.”

Though that disappointment hit home last year, Van den Goorbergh is more than ready to show once again what he’s made of. “I’ve played this game many times before now, so the box itself is checked. I just want to prove my self-made bike can make it; that it can be a great alternative for Dakar entrants. The planned route also gets me excited, since we’re going back through Peru. That is the absolute paradise for enduro riders. That alone would be reason enough to go at it again, even as that meant sacrificing another year preparing for the Dakar.”

Van den Goorbergh emphasizes how important he thinks it is to have a clear schedule for December. He’ll try to keep work off his mind as much as he can, so he can take that plane to Lima on January first with too much troubles on his mind. “I try to rest as much as I can, but it isn’t easy. You’re still constantly preparing. And of course I try to get my enduro routine as often as I can, because rhythm is everything. Not riding for a month is unimaginable, because that would really cost me in the Dakar.” For most people December is all about the holidays, but not so much for Van den Goorbergh. “You’d think Christmas with the family would be extra special, because I’m going to have to miss them for a few weeks in January, but I really can’t enjoy it as I will be too busy readying for the rally. I just keep thinking and I constantly go over everything, so I’m completely at a loss what day it is. People are going to have to tell me it’s Christmas, because I would not have a clue. In those final days before departure, I’m a zombie. The pressure is immense, so I am really looking forward to Christmas in 2018. Let’s see what Christmas feels like when there’s not an enormously challenging rally on the horizon. We’ll soldier on once more, because I’ll try my hardest to say goodbye to the Rally Dakar in the best way I can.”

Early in January the third and last episode of the series will be put online. Don’t want to miss out on Jurgen van den Goorbergh’s process in the meantime? Then make sure you follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


© Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions


Interview of the Month: Being Factory – Life inside KTM MotoGP™ for the stars

Grand Prix wins and world championships mean that Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaró know all about the spoils of MotoGPTM but 2017 was the first year for both as factory riders. We asked them about the experience …


Pol Espargaró (ESP, #44) & Bradley Smith (GBR, #38) KTM RC16 Valencia (ESP) 2017 © Gold and Goose

He is used to the surroundings but it is almost possible to detect a small trace of continuing disbelief as Bradley Smith enters the stunning two-storey ‘Holzhaus’ Red Bull Energy Station in the Valencia paddock. It is the last round of 2017 MotoGPTM, the closing episode for KTM after a rapid year of experimentation and progress, the first term where Smith could boast status as a ‘factory’ rider and the Holzhaus still dwarfs the other structures after making its maiden appearance at Mugello in Italy in June.

Inside, the wooden interiors scream class, comfort and luxury. Three bars and a catering area service KTM’s entire MotoGPTM race crew and their guests. The tall tables also entertain Smith and teammate Pol Espargaró and occasional wildcarder Mika Kallio for their media debriefs. Smith now has a routine chair and place around where the journalists gather. “Just look at this place,” he said in astonishment back in Mugello.


Red Bull Energy Station Mugello (ITA) 2017 © KTM

Of course being ‘factory’ means more than just a swish place to eat, drink and fulfil media obligations. Smith has endured a turbulent campaign on the KTM RC16 where speed and results struggled to match those of Espargaró’s and even Kallio’s. He crashed heavily in Barcelona and mangled another finger. Then there was speculation that his job could be under threat as the team worked diligently to cut a lap time 2.5 seconds down on the leaders to just 0.8 by the end of the season. Some of his trips to the Holzhaus to speak with the press of his experiences have not been particularly pleasant or easy.

“I have learned a lot, and from many sides; from a racing side, team politics side and media pressure side and everything and above,” he reflects in Valencia. “It has been an interesting nine months for me as an individual. It has been a good season from a learning perspective if not necessarily in terms of performance … but that’s coming.”

Access to KTM’s vast catalog of models, fame, a good contract and being surrounded by a feeling of optimism that comes with a new project that is making fast forward steps (both Smith and Espargaró have talked constantly all year of their amazement in how new and updated parts have emerged from Mattighofen) is part of being a factory athlete compared to a satellite rider. But so is handling extra expectation and a brighter spotlight. “I think for the first time I’m actually looking forward to an end-of-season holiday,” Smith half-smiles. “I feel that I need it; whether it was the extra tests or the extra strain from being a development team or in the development process as a manufacturer … it has been more mentally and physically demanding than I imagined. Fun-wise? A lot. I enjoyed the whole process and it has certainly been an eye-opener. You realize that when you are on a satellite bike you have things a lot easier. You will never have the best [equipment] but you will have an amazing package without all the stuff that comes with it, and it is ‘that stuff’ that can create the difficulties.”


Bradley Smith (GBR) KTM RC16 Jerez (ESP) 2017 © Jesús Robledo

In Valencia KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer reiterated his belief in Smith’s contribution and abilities. “Bradley has a contract for next year, so he was always going to have that ride but from the outside we had some pressure because his results were not so good. Of course I could I see that. But these riders also took a big risk to come into a new project with a new bike and when they signed there was a white piece of paper; not even a bike to look at. Coming from a very competitive bike to trust our project was one thing but it would also be unfair to drop them after one season. We decided to give them the time to develop. I know he is better than what he was showing and there was a reason why he was not performing.”

“As the pressure was getting bigger and bigger I took the chance before the overseas to confirm that he will have his ride and take this huge load away from his back: how can you perform when the first question you get when you arrive in this paddock is ‘how many hours do you have before they kick you out?’ I wanted to underline our support. And since then he has been like a different rider and I want to state that all three of our guys have done a great job and where we are now is all done to them and the team. It was a pleasure to confirm he will stay with us.”


Pit Beirer (GER), Bradley Smith (GBR) & Mike Leitner (AUT) Aragón (ESP) 2017 © Gold and Goose

Smith rode to 11th in Valencia, his second-best result, after circulating in the top ten for most of the race and had notched 10th place finishes in Misano and Phillip Island. “Finding the balance between testing and racing and mentally deciding whether we are riding or racing the bike,” he says of the challenge of orientating his objectives for 2017. “It was something where I was not doing a good job. I was thinking big-picture instead of short-term but at the end of the day both were being affected. It is better [in the end] if the rider looks short-term and the team looks long. Distinguishing between the two was one of the hardest things I have done this year.”

In contrast Pol Espargaró has bounded into his debriefs barely able to contain that distinctive smirk. The fact that the Catalan was third fastest in FP1 in Valencia and quicker than his effort with the satellite Yamaha bike at the Ricardo Tormo circuit twelve months earlier was typical of his evolution with the orange race bike this year. The 26 year old classified sixteenth and outside of the points in his KTM debut in Qatar in March but then scored in nine races in the second half of the term and was a regular in-and-around the top ten. An accessible and popular rider with a cheery disposition, Pol has nevertheless relished the fruits of being at the center of a competitive engineering and sport project with vast resources. “In Qatar we were talking about how many times they [the leaders] would pass us in one race; the gap was huge and it was difficult to keep the motivation pumped up,” #44 admits. “Now the closer we are the motivation is increasing. It is super-nice to jump on the bike and see that progression and that we are normally in the top ten.”


Pol Espargaró (ESP) KTM RC16 Aragón (ESP) 2017 © Sebas Romero

Pol is quick to offer insight into the extra weight of responsibility. Being a Red Bull KTM rider means being part of a ‘rookie’ team but Espargaró and Smith are experienced and successful racers. As part of the wider Race Department – that numbers over 400 people worldwide – both are also naturally elevated in a big pecking order. “With our staff we fire up 72 factory riders around the world,” says Beirer. “That’s a lot of teams, trucks, workshops, sprinters, tires and [everything]. It is amazing how much material and manpower you need to run those riders.”

“If you see it from the outside then it is true that there is a little bit more pressure because there are many more people working with – or for – you than in the past, and behind this project is a lot of money,” Pol says. “It is huge. We – as the riders – are the guys who are handling the money and bringing the bike ‘up’. If you see it this way then it is super-pressure. As riders we need to look at it in another way. I have always given 200% and the extra pressure does not change me. You can see it as a point of pressure or of support and I see it as something good. Every time we have a problem we have a lot of support and a lot of pieces to try.”


KTM RC16 Red Bull Ring (AUT) 2017 © Philip Platzer

‘Learning’ is a big word that can be used to underline KTM’s baptism in MotoGPTM in 2017. Espargaró and Smith have been key cogs in the machine for that didactic trip, but personally, Pol is also continuing his journey as a competitive part of the MotoGPTM cast list and offers an opinion on where he has ‘grown’ most in the last twelve months and couple of years in the premier class. “The lesson has been about character and attitude and this is everything,” he states. “How to react after winning or losing races and I have learned a lot how to manage it. I am still young and I have fire inside – and can be too wild – but I have learned a lot since I came into this paddock at 15. I changed a lot and want to continue changing.”

“When you are young and come in this world you need to have good people around you. You are on the TV, on camera and you start to earn money and a lot of people start to say how great you are and how fast you are. It is super-easy to go to the moon and lose yourself. It happens to many young riders; they come to MotoGPTM and make amazing results in the first year and then drop a lot and I think it is because of the pressure and the handling of these riders is not correct.”

Bradley and Pol have worn the visible shield of KTM’s most ambitious racing project ever and needed to have strong enough shoulders to keep it fixed. After the last race of 2017 work took place in Jerez in order to prepare for 2018. The whole effort cranks-up just a little more for the second season where the appetite for results to match flowering performance will also be whet. “We need all pre-season to reach the top five,” asserts Espargaró, almost eager to get started. “We are more or less one second from the top guys and we need to be 0.5 so we need to improve half a second and to do that we need to work on a lot of things on the bike. We will start from zero at the Tuesday test and have all winter to work. This is the start of another ‘time’ in our project: we need to be really precise. Before new pieces were coming and we were nearly improving almost all the time. Now I think a lot of them will not work! It will be hard to improve the bike but we have a lot to try. It is optimistic but I think we can be where we want to be.”

Who wouldn’t want to be a factory MotoGPTM rider?


Pol Espargaró (ESP) KTM RC16 Red Bull Ring (AUT) 2017 © Gold and Goose

Photos: Gold and Goose | KTM | Jesús Robledo | Sebas Romero | Philip Platzer


Tony Cairoli: The story from Sicily to 9-time World Champion

Posted in People, Racing

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Tony Cairoli beat the odds to take his ninth FIM Motocross World Championship title in 2017.

The 32-year-old has a very special story of determination from the rolling hills of Patti in Sicily where as a young boy he and his father had a dream to race motorcycles. With sacrifice, hard work and his incredible talent, Cairoli has gone on to become one of the greatest motocross racers of all time. In a recent video by KTM, Cairoli and his friends share an inside look into the Sicilian star’s story.

Video: GSP Media/KTM


KTM is READY TO RACE Dakar 2018

Posted in People, Racing

With 16 consecutive wins at the notoriously tough Rally Dakar the KTM Factory Racing Team is gearing up for another tough battle in January with the sole aim of continuing this unbelievable success-streak.


KTM 450 RALLY © Future7Media

With an all-new KTM 450 RALLY machine in the hands of Red Bull KTM riders Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner, Toby Price and Antoine Meo, along with Laia Sanz and Luciano Benavides, the stage is set for another exciting endurance battle of man and woman, machine and team. Here is the video from the recent action shooting and final test before the bikes are loaded and begin their journey for the 2018 race, which begins on January 6.

Photo: Future7Media 
Video: GSP Media/KTM


#inthisyear2017: A look back at the first KTM MotoGP™ season

Posted in Bikes, Racing

Impressive, magnificent, and a whole host of other superlatives – that’s the kind of thing you’d have heard when talk turned to the Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team following the MotoGPTM 2017 season finale. In its very first season, KTM has become a heavyweight on the Grand Prix-circuit. There were, of course, some setbacks along the way, but the final standings after all that hard work show a team heading in the right direction – and straight for the top.


Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team Valencia (ESP) 2017 © Philip Platzer

Successes include the first world championship points for the KTM RC16, points for both KTM factory riders, the first top-ten result, and some outstanding performances in qualifying. In the October Grand Prix at Phillip Island, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders managed to land second- and third-place on the starting grid for the very first time, with both finishing the race in the top ten. By now even the doubters couldn’t deny that KTM had become top-class heavyweights in their very first season. It is surely only a matter of time until a KTM rider makes an appearance on the podium for the first time.

Stefan Pierer, KTM CEO, outlined where KTM will go from here: “We at KTM have achieved pretty much everything except a MotoGPTM title, so we’ve still got a score to settle. We don’t prescribe to that Olympic principle that it’s all about taking part and not about winning medals – we want to be up on that podium. And, at the end of the day, we’re still dreaming of a World Championship title.”


Pol Espargaró (ESP, #44) & Bradley Smith (GBR, #38) KTM RC16 Phillip Island (AUS) © Marco Campelli

In the spring of 2014, shortly after winning a second Moto3 World Championship title in the 2013 season, KTM announced their entry into the MotoGPTM. Just 15 months later, the roll-out of the KTM RC16 took place on the Red Bull Ring in Styria, Austria. It was a major undertaking for motorsport boss Pit Beirer. Before the project could even get off the ground, he had to fit together a team like pieces in a puzzle, and convince people to come over to KTM. The function test for the new bike – developed completely in-house – ran perfectly smoothly and thus laid the groundwork for what was to come next. In 2016, a further development was announced when it was revealed that test riders Alex Hofmann and Mika Kallio, third-place at the 2008 World Championships on a 250cc 2-stroke KTM, would be joining the team. Things then really started to get serious in the 2017 season, when the two factory riders Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith were added to the mix.

The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team were unveiled to the press for the first time against the grand backdrop of the summer 2016 home Grand Prix on the Red Bull Ring. Stepping out in front of a home crowd was a truly special moment for all concerned. The next major target was the Grand Prix in Valencia, where Mika Kallio was entered as a wildcard rider to test out the KTM RC16 under race conditions, just one year after its launch. After a series of disappointing training sessions, things improved significantly for Kallio in qualifying and he managed to land 20th place. Everyone involved was delighted that KTM didn’t finish at the bottom of the pack. Unfortunately, bad luck on race day meant that Kallio had to retire with a faulty sensor.


Mika Kalio (FIN, #-36) KTM RC16 Valencia (ESP) 2016 © Sebas Romero

The subsequent test rides showed a clear improvement in training times to become among the quickest. This trend also continued in the 2017 season races, and soon KTM boss Stefan Pierer’s dreams of securing a podium position didn’t seem so crazy.

Motorsport has long been a part of KTM’s proud history. Shortly after commencing motorcycle production, KTM models began taking part in the series machine races that were popular at the time and, exactly six decades ago, KTM’s first racing bike – constructed by Ludwig Apfelbeck and featuring a 125cc 4-stroke engine – was launched. At the end of the 1950s, due to a crisis on the European motorcycle market, KTM discontinued its motorcycle production and it wasn’t until 2003 that KTM riders could be found back on the track and fighting for victories and championship titles.

On its 50th anniversary, KTM entered the world of Grand Prix sport with the 125 FRR, followed two years later by the 250cc class. In 2005, KTM won the Constructors’ World Championship in the 125cc class. That’s when KTM first sampled the waters of MotoGPTM, working as the engine supplier for the Kenny Roberts’ Proton Team, which, despite the performance of an almost 240-hp V4 KTM engine, did not manage to score any world championship points. After this, the FIM announced their plan to ban 2-stroke machines from Grand Prix sport, thus ending KTM’s factory-based involvement in 2009. It continued to develop young talent of the highest level, however, with the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. So when, in 2012, the new Moto3 class was launched, KTM were able to present their new 4-stroke bike, the KTM RC 250 GP, which was a real contender straight out of the gate, picking up the first two titles in this new class through Sandro Cortese and Maverick Viñales. Many current MotoGPTM stars experienced their first victories on the125cc 2-stroke KTM, but were forced to switch manufacturers once they switched to a different class. But that shouldn’t be an issue anymore. “KTM wants to keep its riders in the family,” says Pit Beirer. KTM wants Moto2 to be a platform where young riders can continue to work with KTM in the smaller classes too. “Even we never dreamed that we would come through the first Moto2 season in such a strong position with three consecutive victories. We won’t be letting Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, the two Ajo Team riders, out of our sights and we will definitely be seeing them again in the MotoGPTM on a Red Bull Factory Racing KTM.”


Miguel Oliveira (POR) & Brad Binder (RSA) Valencia (ESP) 2017 © Gold and Goose

Photos: Philip Platzer | Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero | Gold and Goose


Sim Racing with the KTM X-BOW

For almost 10 years now, the KTM X-BOW, in its various versions, has truly proven its worth as an exceptional piece of (motor)sports kit for a wide range of requirements. However, the super sports car from Austria has now also become a hit among “sim racers” from around the world and is available in virtually all motor racing simulations!


“Track Racing meets Sim Racing” was the motto of SIM-Department’s stand at SimRacing Expo – the largest German-speaking trade fair for sim racing – held at the Nürburgring. On the stand, which was organized jointly with KTM Sportcar GmbH, amateurs and professionals from across Europe had the opportunity to test the latest KTM X-BOW R, as used in KTM’s own entry-level and semi-pro “Rookies Challenge” racing series. Virtually, of course. Or more precisely with the popular “Assetto Corsa” simulator, which receives high praise for its faithful simulation of driving dynamics.

The reactions of the “real” drivers from the X-BOW BATTLE, Rookies Challenge, and GT4 European Series proved that their stand motto was not just an advertising slogan: “It drives very much like in reality,” said Reinhard Kofler, KTM factory and development driver, who was a race winner in the GT4 European Series last season. Kofler and his fellow KTM drivers Laura Kraihamer, Cedric Freiburghaus, and Eike Angermayr were all in agreement that sim racing at this level can be way more than just an entertaining pastime or hobby: “It really helps you to prepare for a race, especially if you’ve never been to a race track before,” added Freiburghaus.


What’s more, you can also compete against the best sim racers. The perfect platform for this is “X-BOW BATTLE ONLINE”, which also runs on the “Assetto Corsa” simulator! This is being held for the third time in the 2017/2018 winter season and was once again completely booked out within a very short time, not least because of the tireless enthusiasm of its “inventor” Jörg Göbel and the guys from the SIM-Department team led by Jens Purkott.

A total of 30 drivers compete to win the title, driving on renowned race tracks, just like in the “real” X-BOW BATTLE: on 11/05/2017 at the Nürburgring, on 12/10/2017 at Spa-Francorchamps, on 01/21/2018 at Zandvoort, on 02/25/2018 at Silverstone, on 03/25/2018 at Imola, and on 04/29/2018 in the triumphant finale on the Red Bull Ring, the KTM X-BOW’s “home track”. Competition is fierce – and at times entrants will face “real” drivers from the “real BATTLE”! But anyone wanting to pit themselves against these guys will have to wait until the next season, which is certain to follow due to the huge success enjoyed thus far! Until then you’ll find all the info at, including links to the live streams with live commentary!


Photos: KTM Sportcar GmbH


The ‘newbies’ in action

Posted in Bikes, Riding

The LC8c was the star of the 2017 EICMA display and unveiling but seeing a bike stationary and under lights is one thing, in its element is another …

The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype give plenty of scope for some spectacular images across landscape and terrain that begs to be explored with two wheels.

KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype © R. Schedl

With a name like ‘The Scalpel’ KTM’s new mid-range offering was always going to be a feast for the eyes and the marketing wizards between Mattighofen and KISKA at Salzburg have come up with some special photos to show-off the KTM 790 DUKE’s angles and potential.

KTM 790 DUKE MY2018 © R. Schedl

The KTM 450 RALLY is another model that shines in its habitat and just as Sunderland, Price, Walkner and co will be cutting through some truly epic scenery in South America in the first days of the new year, these pics are a timely reminder of the possibilities with the KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA.

KTM 450 RALLY © M. Kin

Enjoy the selection and get the bank balance warmed up for some special Christmas requests!

Photos: R. Schedl | M. Kin


All about the ‘7’s at 2017 EICMA unveiling

Everything is shiny, bright and new at the annual motorcycling mecca of show-and-tell at EICMA in Milan and the glitzy and burgeoning KTM stand was no different as the latest exciting wares for 2018 and the future were unveiled this week. What will visitors to the Fiera Milano find and what news did KTM have in store?


Pol Espargaró (ESP), Hubert Trunkenpolz (AUT) & KTM 790 DUKE MY2018 EICMA 2017 © M. Campelli

It has been a revealing couple of weeks. First KTM showed off the second generation of the FREERIDE E-XC (that takes pride of place at EICMA as well) and then moved from the expanses of Hangar-7 to the cavernous halls of the Fiera to tickle more fancy among journalists, fans and motorcyclists from across Europe.

A strong nod was made to the latest clutch of FIM World Championship titles – MXGP, Supercross, Enduro and yet another Dakar crown – as well as an emphatic entry to MotoGPTM this year with the final round in Valencia hot on the heels of the first flashes of life around the display plinths in Milan.


Tony Cairoli (ITA), Hubert Trunkenpolz (AUT), Pol Espargaró (ESP), Pauls Jonass (LAT), Pit Beirer (GER), Robert Jonas (AUT), Josep Garcia (ESP), Sam Sunderland (GBR), Jeffrey Herlings (NED) EICMA 2017 © M. Campelli

Otherwise the mechanical ‘stars’ were very much orientated around the new LC8c engine and the clutch of 790 machinery that plugs the gap in a wallet-teasing range of street and offroad wares. The form and design of the production KTM 790 DUKE – The Scalpel – was shown for the first time after previously existing in prototype guise and whet the appetite.


KTM 790 DUKE MY2018 © R. Schedl

As KTM’s first multi cylinder model in the segment, the KTM 790 DUKE has been granted the goal of ‘combining real-world practicality with maximum street performance’. And KTM seem to hit the nail on the head by stating that 790’s edge over the single KTM 690 DUKE and the sumptuous KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is through attributes such as low weight, great agility and precision are often more important for riding enjoyment than maximum straight-line acceleration on those gorgeous twisty roads of this world. In its final production dress the KTM 790 DUKE offers 105hp and 86Nm of torque and it is immediately noticeable how compact and light the motorcycle actually is. The 790 has a distinctive DUKE profile but is also very ‘2018’ with the optimized geometry, latest suspension kit from WP and electronics such as motorcycle traction control, motor slip regulation, launch control, quickshifter + and new ‘TRACK’ riding mode.

The KTM 790 DUKE is again another shape-shifter from Mattighofen. Some will see a striking and fun commuter, others a naked bike to dwarf any sports machine out on country lanes and the plentiful tech spec sheet will allow The Scalpel to slice open more than a few rivals on the racetrack.


KTM 790 DUKE MY2018 © R. Schedl

Turning heads was the prototype KTM 790 ADVENTURE R – a curious (potentially new) look and an addition to the ADVENTURE family – which complements the 1290 and 1090 versions by hovering an elbow in the mid-range market. The LC8c engine comes to the fore again. Like the KTM 790 DUKE the power-to-weight ratio is the big bonus here for offroaders and the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype has its place between the KTM 690 ENDURO offering and its bigger brothers. The rally bike shape is a giveaway for the performance it could bring and the promise of a comprehensive rider assistance systems. Some of the interest and evaluation at EICMA could determine KTM’s future direction with this proposal.


KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype © J. Bergauer

With good reason the KTM 450 RALLY is a desirable option for any rider with aspirations of tackling rough terrain fast. Along with motocross and enduro there is perhaps no other motorcycle in KTM’s portfolio that has such a strong and direct link with utter success. The Rally Dakar has been ‘orange’ since 2001 and through a small variety of motorcycles the 450cc capacity has been in place since 2011 and for the last years KTM have offered a customer racing replica of their victorious technology. The latest incarnate has increased engine power, a new engine management system and transmission, throttle body, air filter box and re-organizing of the steering head area permits more room and centralization. A new chassis, swingarm and seat are just some of the other elements on a standout showpiece.


Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY © M. Kin

Alongside the KTM FREERIDE E-XC was the more conventional but no less impressive KTM FREERIDE 250 F; a motorcycle that gains an easy to handle and extremely usable 4-stroke powerplant and maintains an important position as the ultimate entry port for riders looking to dabble in some knobbly-tired activity.

EICMA – as with any other motorcycle show – is like a ‘Red Bull’ for bikers: an energizing and encouraging (not to mention tempting) latest taster of the industry, what’s on offer and what ideas and innovations are coming up. It’s that time of the year to ‘open a can’, get excited and dream of Christmas presents.

Photos: M. Campelli | R. Schedl | J. Bergauer | M. Kin


His last road to Dakar #1

This will be the final time former GP racer Jurgen van den Goorbergh prepares for the toughest of all rallies; the Rally Dakar. The 47-year-old is neck deep into his preparations for his tenth go at the race. In three episodes we will be following his endeavors.

The beads of sweat on his forehead tell the tale. Every single training run Jurgen van den Goorbergh sets off on, follows the same basic principle. It’s more than obvious the man from Breda in the Netherlands isn’t the kind of guy who half-asses anything – with this ninety minute training session being no different. To this day it remains amazing to see the sheer ease at which the former GP racer moves through difficult terrain in the wooded Kempen area just a small hour from his home; a stretch of land he’s very familiar with. His weapon of choice is a brand new KTM 450 EXC-F. “In preparation I stick to my Enduro bike, mostly because I want to save the Dakar bike. I can’t put too many miles on that, as it has to arrive in South America as fresh as can be”, van den Goorbergh explains.


Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

This winter’s edition will be van den Goorbergh’s tenth go at the Rally Dakar, a feat in itself. Especially considering he’s most well-known for his efforts on the blacktop. From 1992 to 2002 he was a GP regular, with a permanent spot in the premier class for the final six of those seasons. Though the Dutchman never made it onto the rostrum, he has shown his skill on numerous occasions. In 1999 he made it to pole position twice on the Muz-Weber, after taking home the best privateer titles in 1997 and 1998. That is quite an accomplishment, certainly for someone of Dutch descent.

After his first season in MotoGPTM in 2002, he went on to ride in World Supersport, finishing third in the final standings for the next two years to come. In the fall of his career he got another opportunity to show what he’s made of in Grand Prix racing, when he substituted for the injured Makoto Tamada – finishing sixth at the Chinese Grand Prix in 2005 on only his first outing on the RC211V Honda. That effort landed him a contract as a test rider for Michelin.

Taking serious risks
In 2006 Jurgen van den Goorbergh called it quits, but soon a new challenge came up, when he enrolled himself for the 2008 Rally Dakar. Unfortunately, the 2008 edition never came to be as a terror threat saw the organizers cancel the race. The following year he showed his prowess when he finished the rally in seventeenth place. “In the first week I was fighting for fiftieth place, but as I was starting to get a hang of it, I gained places fast. Seventeenth was sublime, and becoming best rookie was the icing on the cake.” That performance had to have rekindled the professional racer in him, but he is more than well aware that he will have to take some serious risks if he were to be willing to better that achievement the following years. “It all worked out that first year. That allowed me to perform as good as I did. I might have been eligible for a works seat, but I wasn’t in the Dakar for that. Of course a final result like that is mega, but I was in it more for the personal challenge than anything else. I was never going to be able to run within the top ten, especially since Frans Verhoeven [the best Dutch motorcycle racer in the Rally Dakar after the millennium] was a regular training buddy of mine back then. He wasn’t just a little bit faster than me, and I saw firsthand the risks he had to take to be able to ride that hard. I just wasn’t willing to go to lengths like that, simply because it was never realistic to close the gap and run in the top ten.”

After that attention shifted to racing in the buggy class with the GoKoBra project he had started with his good friend and sponsor Kees Koolen. His first attempts would prove to be in vain, and the buggy did not make it to the finish. Then in 2012 and 2013 he found himself at the final finish line in respectably sixty-fourth and sixty-seventh place. The following year he returned to the Rally Dakar, this time alongside Kees Koolen as his navigator in the truck class. But then in 2015 van den Goorbergh found a new challenge, once again on two wheels, when he managed to finish the race in the Malle Moto Class – meaning he had to do all his own work, and participate without a team. The Dakar is cruel mistress as it is, but in the Malle Moto Class you’re up against a tougher opponent altogether. Not only did he finish, but it looked like he might just win it at first attempt, battling with Thomas Berglund for the victory. In the end he had to settle for second place, but it would soon shine through the Malle Moto Class was the way to go for 2016 as well. “It’s Dakar as Dakar was always meant to be”, van den Goorbergh says. “Rob van Pelt used to race the box class, and that really inspired me; it’s so impressive. I had to do the Rally Dakar like that at least once. It’s just that little bit more difficult because it is all up to you. To me, that makes it extra special when you do make it to the end.”


Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Completely lost my way
At his second go in the box class back in 2016, van den Goorbergh didn’t just make it to the finish line; he went on to win in his class. In last year’s race van den Goorbergh tried to add yet another dimension to the race by building his own Rally bike. He took a KTM 450 EXC-F and set about building the bike to his own specifications, only to face some serious hardship when push came to shove. “By the end of day three, I went down. It looked to go really well, since I had already built up a thirty-minute lead on my competitors. With just twenty odd kilometers left in the stage, I wiped out in a big puddle. I really sort of highsided. There must have been a big rock of some sorts in the water, because I can’t really explain it otherwise. I had completely lost my way, and just sat there for about an hour. The crash had knocked me out, and every single time I tried to get up, I would just fall right over. Something was wrong; that’s a given. When a fellow Dutch participant came by, I managed to hitch a ride back to the bivouac. Once there I had two options: either work on the bike or go see the doctor. I went with the first option, because the crash had done some serious damage and the bike needed attention. But while working on the bike, I just kept running into more physical problems. Every time I would bend over, I would just tumble right over. Obviously I was badly concussed.” Somehow the KTM rider made it to the start the next day, but seventy kilometers into the stage, he had to throw in the towel. “I had taken a lot of painkillers, but I just couldn’t breathe. We were at altitude, but it turned out I had broken four ribs in the crash as well. I had no power left in me, and then you know you’re just done. I had to push the emergency button, which means you’re out of the race right then and there. Months of hard work, building and setting up everything and after just four days you’re done. It took a lot to take that in.”


Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Solid base
The disappointment could hardly be any bigger, but just two weeks after Dakar 2017 preparations he began to get back on the bike and headed back to South America. For the upcoming edition van den Goorbergh wants to show that the bike he built has what it takes to make it. “In 2016 I saw stages had gotten way more technical. So I knew the bike had to handle well, so I set out to build a bike that is much lighter than the readily available Rally bikes. KTM’s 450 Enduro bike is a solid base to start from. Developing the bike takes up so much time, which caused the brunt of the disappointment when I had to quit the race last year. For 2018 I want to show my bike can be a good alternative for the guys who have a tight budget, but still want to run quality machinery.” By building his own bike the Dutchman has figured out a way to make his KTM a lot lighter than the competition. “That is a really big advantage, because weight reduction like that you are definitely going to notice. I’ve managed to shave off a good 24 kilos, getting the dry weight down to about 120 kilograms. I’m running a stock engine as well, so reliability is never going to be an issue. Well, stock; I have only changed the ratio for fifth gear, since it was incredibly close to sixth. But that´s it.”

Obviously the stock engine leaves him down on power a bit, but the handling is improved significantly. “In the past I had adaptation problems switching from my Enduro training bike to the Rally machine. It felt odd, because I would hardly ever ride it. With my new bike the change is seamless; it feels like I’m on my Enduro bike.”

Though he hasn’t got anything to show for right now, he has managed to find three customers for the bike already. For the former GP rider this is a means to an end, so he can stay involved in Rally raid racing after he retires. “This is it; my final go at the Dakar. So I’m really hoping this can keep me a part of the sport for a long time. Just selling the kits should do it. I would really like that.”


Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

An entire Dakar before the Dakar
The primary reason for this being Jurgen van den Goorbergh’s final Dakar bike entry, is the crazy life involved in participating in the Rally. “I’m certainly not the youngest participant anymore. Riding isn’t the problem, but the body isn’t too happy about it anymore. Apart from the physical aspect, you’re also really straining yourself in the build-up to the adventure. It gets stressful, especially having to arrange everything yourself. It would be nice to have couple of quiet months during the winter.”

Preparations for the upcoming Rally raid are going smoothly, but van den Goorbergh has a  new ‘project’ that takes up quite a bit of his time; his son Zonta. Not that it really bothers the 47-year-old, as the youngster is following in his father’s footsteps. “He’s twelve years old now, and he’s really got the right feeling for racing. He’s progressing fast, and his racing is becoming serious. That means you are going to have to put in even more time.”


Zonta & Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Being on the road with Zonta, supporting him in his motorcycle racing career, hasn’t put any strain on preparing for the Rally Dakar at all. To the contrary, he’s feeling even better than he did at the same point last year. “I took up running again back in March, knowing I’d be doing the Dakar again. By the time I fly out to South America in December I’ll have done about five-hundred kilometers running.” Plus, he’s been doing quite a few Enduro rides as well, with a few more to come in the following weeks, stating he wants to have done an entire Rally Dakar before heading out to do the Rally Dakar. “In preparation I try to do about ten-thousand kilometers offroad, roughly the same distance we’ll be doing in the race. It isn’t easy to fit all of those rides into my schedule, as I’m still working three to four days a week in making sports wheelchairs. Though I do try to clear my schedule for December, so I can focus on the race. It all comes down to that in the end.”

Early in December the second episode of the series will be put online. Don’t want to miss out on Jurgen van den Goorbergh’s process in the meantime? Then make sure you follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


Jurgen van den Goorbergh (NED) 2017 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions


MotoGP™ beckons? Tony Cairoli talks KTM tarmac debut

Could one of the greatest motocrossers ever be eying a career change? Tony Cairoli’s appetite and curiosity to try a new MotoGPTM machine was satisfied in the middle of October in Valencia. We’ve seen the images so now hear what the Sicilian had to say on his KTM RC16 debut.


Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM RC16 Valencia (ESP) 2017

The last weeks said a lot about MXGP World Champion Tony Cairoli. First he celebrated his wedding to Jill with family and friends and only a month after he’d won his ninth FIM crown. A few days later he’d delayed his honeymoon to quell the urge to run some laps on a MotoGPTM machine and joined the Red Bull KTM test team on a sunny day of work at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia. Good people, good times.

It was unusual to see the experienced 32-year-old looking slightly pensive in a race paddock. The unfamiliar full face Airoh helmet and leather suit was the first indication that this was a different examination of #222’s speed. There was then the howl of engine power and detailed briefing with the crew that are playing an important back-up role in what is a historic maiden term for the factory on the MotoGPTM grid. Cairoli even spent a few moments getting words of advice from official test rider Mika Kallio for what to expect from the fierce KTM RC16, compared to the torquey blast of his KTM 450 SX-F.


Mika Kallio (FIN), Tony Cairoli (ITA) & Team Valencia (ESP) 2017

Soon Cairoli’s ‘222’ machine was deprived of tire warmers and pushed into life. Tony got faster, more comfortable and more ‘cranked over’ as the test went on and he notched 22 laps.

“The first impressive thing is the braking and the big acceleration; it is very tricky to find the limit of a bike that feels so perfect and balanced,” he said. “The grip in the corners is amazing. It is ten years since I last tried a MotoGPTM bike and there is a huge improvement with the bike and corner speed. I only did a few laps but had a good feeling by the end and felt I could push more.”

“The reversed gearbox was another tricky thing in the first laps when I made a few mistakes but it was quite easy to adapt,” he added. “Luckily Mika was there and has so much experience. He gave me some helpful advice and I could follow him to find the right lines and correct some of the mistakes of the beginning: thanks Mika!”


Mika Kallio (FIN, #36) & Tony Cairoli (ITA, #222) KTM RC16 Valencia (ESP) 2017

“I was excited to come here but I didn’t get time to do more laps, which was a shame so I hope next time I can do more and try to get near the limit,” TC said. “It was such an adrenaline rush to ride at more than 300 km/h. We are not used to this speed. It was amazing.”

Cairoli was also afforded the chance to compare his discipline with that of the asphalt. “Obviously you are stuck to one line and you don’t have the freedom to change like we do to have a better feeling,” he offered. “You just have to follow the best line and try to do everything perfectly.”

“A big thanks to KTM and the test team for the opportunity and I hope I can go again. I like new challenges and to approach different things. It was the first time for me to get 59 degrees and my elbow on the ground!”


Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM RC16 Valencia (ESP) 2017

Although there was little danger of roost or visibility problems, Tony still had to deal with the phenomenal speed of another type of KTM. His touchpoint with the KTM RC16 was actually a fitting story considering the success and prominence he gave to the then pioneering KTM 350 SX-F with five MXGP titles between 2004-2010. Cairoli still rules his sport into his thirties and, like another famous Italian, shows no signs of slacking off the cable.

Photos: Stefano Taglioni/KTM
Video: Black&Rad


10 years to 1,000,000 dollars: Musquin & Beirer talk special KTM history

Posted in People, Racing

At the recent Monster Energy Cup – the world’s richest motorcycle race – Marvin Musquin gave the clearest indication yet from ten years in orange that he is ready to step up and lead the Red Bull KTM team to more glory in the stadiums of North America.


Marvin Musquin (FRA) KTM 450 SX-F Las Vegas (USA) 2017

Ryan Dungey left some big boots in the workshop of Red Bull KTM in Murrieta, California. The recently retired #5 won three AMA Supercross World Championships in what is the second most-watched motorcycle racing series in the world. Marvin Musquin will be hoping to place the vacant footwear in a locker somewhere and buckle his own in earnest for what will be his third season with the KTM 450 SX-F once the new contest starts at Anaheim on January 6.

The Frenchman will soon toast a decade as a Red Bull KTM athlete and his recent success by winning the Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas – just the second rider in the seven year history of the invitational fixture to claim all three ten-lap Main Events and become a millionaire in the course of one evening – was a potent sign that the 27-year-old is looking to wear Dungey’s 2016 crown and add the accolade to his 250 SX title and two MX2 World Championships.

“It makes me proud and happy to see that,” Marvin Musquin said at the Sam Boyd Stadium on his ten year-long tenure on KTM SX-F machinery and since he won his first world championship in 2009. “I want to thank Red Bull KTM and Pit Beirer because the way my career is going and to be able to keep on this team with the KTM 450 SX-F and fight for a championship is like a dream. To be in this position is awesome and I cannot see myself being anywhere else.”

Musquin is a wonderfully skilled rider, physically slight but with the ability to bend the motorcycle to his wishes and place those Pirelli tires on whatever inch of the roughest Supercross and Motocross tracks that lay ahead. “He can do some very technical things and in special places. He is maybe one of the best we have seen,” says KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer and the man who originally signed Marvin midway through 2009. “I have a close relationship with Marvin. He came over to KTM in special circumstances and to see him perform so well gives big satisfaction. I always believed in him and on good days he brought us championships but also dealt with some big injuries and had to make a series of comebacks. When he has confidence then in terms of technique he is such a good rider that he does some incredible things. In 2016 he made another step and gave Ryan some hard days in Supercross and it is not so easy to do at this level: I think we are ready for the time ‘after’ Ryan Dungey.”


Marvin Musquin (FRA) KTM 450 SX-F Las Vegas (USA) 2017

#25 may be looking ahead to a historic year and an authentic bid for 450 SX and one of the most prestigious titles in the sport, but his origins with KTM came after a fraught personal situation. The-then promising Grand Prix newcomer was in a desperate state to remain at world championship level and found a sympathetic and willing supporter in Beirer.

“That was the craziest story and I’m sure Pit will tell you,” he smiles now. “I’m glad we did that in the end and then moved to America. We had some struggles and we had some podiums but nothing like the results in GPs. I’m glad we made the move to live in America though and we stayed with KTM. Each season is not easy, Motocross is a tough sport but I’m living my dream of winning races on a 450 and I need to keep going and win a championship.”

“There was a lot of emotion at that time,” reflects Beirer. “He was in trouble; he had a ride but no money and was struggling a lot. To see him crying in front of me I had the feeling I had to help this kid but when I did so I had some parts of the industry against me. We even had a court case going on and the police even stopped us racing in Sweden! It was a ‘zero’ for that weekend but he raced the next and still won the championship that year. We stuck together in that time and it linked us strongly from that moment. We have a special connection and it is so nice to see when one of your kids develops like him.”


Marvin Musquin (FRA) KTM 450 SX-F Las Vegas (USA) 2017

Through MX2, 250 SX & MX, 450 SX & MX, Motocross of Nations, Bercy Supercross, Red Bull Straight Rhythms and Monster Cups, Musquin has not failed to show his class. In Las Vegas he not only announced his readiness to be in contention for the seventeen-round Supercross campaign but also achieved the remarkable feat of swelling his bank balance with the largest single pay-out in motorcycle racing. It was a small milestone. And an exciting one.

“A lot of people were watching and to see one person winning a million in one night at a Motocross race is so unique,” he said that night at the Sam Boyd Stadium. “I think we got a lot of views and people will be talking about it for sure, so that’s good for the sport. When I crossed the finish line and met the team we were all just laughing like crazy; it was like ‘are you serious?!’ It was like being at the casino and winning the jackpot! It was super-cool. Money is one thing and doesn’t buy everything but to be able to win tonight is super-special.”

‘Special’: a word that is hovering more and more around MM25 and seems set to stay.

Photos: Simon Cudby/KTM


Josep Garcia – Enduro2 World Champion: A lifelong ambition achieved

The Spanish sensation Josep Garcia stepped up to the senior ranks of Enduro this year, and while it was a decision he was questioning before committing to the Enduro2 category, having raced the Enduro Junior championship last season, it’s certainly one that paid off.

The Red Bull athlete, who contested the KTM 250 EXC-F with the KTM Enduro Factory Racing Team under the guidance of Fabio Farioli, has had a fantastic season with six wins in total. Both in good and challenging times throughout the series Garcia has shown his fighting spirit that has reaped the rewards for the Spanish star, as he lifted the champion’s trophy at the final of eight rounds in Germany last weekend. As a four-year-old boy Garcia already had his heart set on becoming a motorcycle world champion of some sort, and this week he can finally celebrate his commitment to that goal. At just 20 years old the future looks very bright for the KTM-ace, but first let’s take a look at some of the best pictures from the 2017 season.

Round 7 & 8: Paradfürdo (HUN) - Impressive rookie

Photos: Future7Media/KTM


Collecting Moments #5: An Enforced Break

“Larissa, do you have any upcoming projects? Will you be racing in the Red Bull Romaniacs again in 2018?” Just a few weeks after the biggest adventure in my career to date, questions were already popping up about my future plans. I spent almost a year preparing for the toughest Enduro Rally in the world, so this had been my sole focus. I wanted to make my dream a reality and I thought about it every single day. It feels a bit strange to slow down again and discover that everything has come to a bit of a standstill. I achieved my goal, so what’s next?

I must admit, even on the journey home from Romania I was thinking about new goals, races, and ideas. But at the same time another thought occurred to me: “Larissa, take your time and enjoy the moment for once!” So that’s exactly what I did.


© Esterpower

2016 and 2017 were very busy years for me. I got to experience so much, and I had so many unforgettable moments. At some point though, you ought to simply take some time to reflect on your experiences; that way, instead of scrambling around for new ideas, they’ll come to you naturally. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. My aim was to simply enjoy the last two races in the Austrian Cross Country Championship: At the races in Mehrnbach and the finale in Mattighofen, I was able to take my place on the podium twice in front of a home crowd, which was a perfect end to the season. The race in Mattighofen was particularly special – for some reason, I knew that this would probably be my last race in the women’s class of the Austrian Cross Country Championship. This was now my fourth time on the starting line, and I knew that if I was going to take part again in the 2018 series then it would be at the next level in the men’s class.

I really enjoyed my last race with the other ladies; it was a lot of fun. I actually got back into a reasonably good rhythm every now and then – after the Red Bull Romaniacs event, I found it difficult to get back into “Cross Country mode”. When you train for months in preparation for four full offroad days in the Romanian forest and nothing else, you ride differently than you should during a two-hour sprint race. Every now and then during the race I even asked myself the question: “Larissa, what on earth are you doing? Get a hold of yourself!” I was completing each lap in my own little dream world. At the finale in Mattighofen, I was slightly more focused. Once I crossed the finish line, it felt like it was all coming to an end – an end associated with many wonderful memories and unique moments from the many Cross Country races. These were my first steps, my first experiences, and the basis for everything that would follow.


© Cross Pics Huth

After the race in Mattighofen, I received a spontaneous request to take part in another race. This was a four-hour long team race in Amtzell with a lady called Janina Würtele; there was no way I was going to miss out on that. Janina had a background in supermoto and sidecar racing, so road racing, and had never taken part in an Enduro race before. This made me curious to find out how us ladies would fare against the guys. And what’s more, we had never met! It was a “blind date”, so to speak. Luckily, it turned out to be “love at first sight”, if you can call it that: how could two motorsport-mad ladies who were letting themselves in for the insanity of a four-hour race in the mud not get on? Conditions were extreme, as there’d been a heavy downpour the day before, meaning that the track was wet and slippery, and we had to contend with one rut after another.

I started the race on the KTM 300 EXC TPI and Janina took over in lap 2. Unfortunately, it was at this point that she encountered a technical issue: a stone became jammed in her bike chain, causing her to get stuck in a huge mud hole. Thankfully, as she’s a real fighter and didn’t think about giving up for a second, we were able to continue our race. I took over again in lap 3, and we changed after every lap over the course of three hours. Even at this early stage, we had gotten into a great rhythm. We were the only women on the starting line, and we were doing just as well as the men.


© Cross Pics Huth

The finish line was already in our sights and the four-hour mud bath was nearly over; but there was a nasty surprise in store for me. After another changeover, I re-entered the race and quickly found my rhythm. I made a small error on a fairly steep descent, got the front wheel jammed, and flew over the handlebars. Unfortunately, I fell somewhat clumsily on my right knee during the impact and I knew immediately that I had just sustained my first injury. I glanced over at my bike – luckily it had emerged relatively unscathed. The track marshal said to me: “The KTM has resisted the impact pretty well, everything is still intact”. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for me. When I took a step, I noticed that my thigh and lower leg were not working together as they should, which was a gruesome feeling. With the help of the track marshal, I crawled back over to my KTM and carried on riding so that I could swap with my team partner for the last lap. Janina carried on to the finish line for us, while I trundled back to the paddock. When I got undressed, I noticed that my orthosis was broken – I don’t even want to know what would’ve happened had I not been wearing it!

My friends and other riders were a terrific help at the paddock, and before I knew it my bike and everything else had been packed up and I was ready to go home. But I certainly didn’t want to miss the awards ceremony. Janina helped me to the podium and hauled me up to the top. There we stood, and although I knew that I wouldn’t be competing in Enduro races any time soon, I smiled at yet another wonderful moment in my life. So much team spirit between two people who barely know one another is extraordinary!


Janina Würtele & Anna-Larissa Redinger © Cross Pics Huth

The fall gave me the idea for my new project: to get fit and healthy again and return stronger than ever. My injury was diagnosed as a torn cruciate ligament, lateral ligament, and meniscus. As my knee is too sore at the moment, I won’t be having an operation yet. The meniscus and lateral ligament can be healed mainly through physical therapy, but sooner or later I’ll have to have an operation on the cruciate ligament. It isn’t going to be an easy recovery; it’ll take forever and at times will most likely push me to my limits mentally. But I’ve overcome many other challenges in my life, so I feel optimistic. Success is as much a part of Enduro sport as injury, and there are probably very few major athletes who have never been injured. Many have in fact celebrated the highlights of their careers following their worst injuries. If that isn’t motivation, then I don’t know what is!

The first week is already behind me and I cannot believe how helpless I feel in everyday situations. Despite this, I have still been able to appreciate the beautiful autumn days; just like my family do, enjoying the sunshine and nature gives me plenty of motivation. I may have dialed things down a notch for now, but only in preparation for new adventures.


© Anna-Larissa Redinger

Get to know more about Larissa on the KTM BLOG – Collecting Moments #1: Passion for motorcycles, Collecting Moments #2: The search for the perfect motorcycle and Collecting Moments #3: The Iron Giant has me captivated!, Collecting Moments #4: Red Bull Romaniacs 2017 – Finisher in the toughest Enduro Rally in the world! – or check out her website!

Photos: Esterpower | Cross Pics Huth | Anna-Larissa Redinger


A fresh surge: Take note of the new KTM FREERIDE E-XC

Posted in Bikes, Riding

KTM delivered a shock to the electric mobility market with the FREERIDE E enduro, cross and street models three years ago. The buzz is back for 2018 thanks to a second generation KTM FREERIDE E-XC that hikes up expectations. How? Read on to find out …



Will electric motorcycles become like mobile phones? It’s debatable whether we will have the need and desire for the compact and light bikes as we do the plethora of touchscreen devices out there but parallels exist when it comes to the constant developments, the obvious advantages and the curiosity of new technology.

KTM have expanded and enriched their R&D around electric mobility after the well-received FREERIDE concepts were finally released to certain markets in 2014 and after four years in the making. Since then the company has flowered with their general portfolio as well as their relentless quest to deliver exciting and near-essential bikes to mirror the demands of life towards the end of the second decade of the 21st century.

E-mobility is – and must remain – an important goal for the manufacturer because the list of advantages is simply too good to ignore, especially in the offroad domain: zero emissions, noise reduction, practicality, ease of use, low maintenance. These are all issues throttling the use and frequency of motorcycling in this day and age. From a user perspective, the electric bike opens otherwise ‘closed’ areas for riding. It is like a return to the spirit of ‘freedom’ that throwing a leg over a bike and taking off into the sunset once used to mean.



So, naturally, a second generation of KTM FREERIDE E was in the pipeline and areas for improvement hovered around typical motorcycling upgrades – refinements in chassis, suspension, brakes and other components – but also revolved around the automotive industry’s general goals for better electric power: more potential, more distance, better charging and regeneration.

Such was the rate of significant progress that KTM were ready to apply their discovery and work to the 2018 model line and the KTM FREERIDE E-XC is first out of the traps. The motorcycle modifications include a 111 kg weight, new chassis and new composite frame with longer steering head for extra stability. Redesigned bodywork, A1 compliance, new WP Xplor 43 upside-down split fork (enhanced sensitivity and protection against bottoming out, easy setup), WP PDS shock absorber (reduced unsprung mass, enhanced progression and adjustment options), a new dashboard and re-positioned ignition lock for even more real-world practicality and a low, 900 mm seat h despite extreme cross country mobility.

But it is the gains with the electric technology that still cast the KTM FREERIDE E-XC as the reference for the segment both as a community-friendly commuter, a ‘runaround’ and a READY TO RACE competition model.

KTM have forged a PowerPack (that is also backward compatible for older FREERIDEs) and drivetrain that boasts 3.9 kWh and an increase in peak power from 16 to 18 kW. Which basically means a 50% hike in capacity and an elongated 1.5 hours of riding time depending on the terrain and style. It seems that new range records are within reach.

There are still three different ride modes (Economy, Enduro and Cross) for varying performance but it is the ‘Eco’ setting that holds a special feature with a regeneration facility while the bike is coasting and braking to fully exploit the battery and its management system. In terms of aging, even after 700 charge cycles, the KTM PowerPack will still provide 70 % of its initial capacity. The battery itself can be easily and quickly swapped out by removing four screws or charged while in the bike. In addition to its dust and waterproof construction, the motor is virtually wear – and maintenance – free. The only servicing needed is to change the 155 ml of oil lubricating the gears between the electric drive and sprocket after every 50 hours of riding time. ‘Juicing’ the 2018 KTM FREERIDE E-XC should take about 110 minutes for a full charge, or about 75 minutes for an 80 % charge.



The second generation of KTM FREERIDE E-XC is not only a representation of the knowledge and research poured into advancing the possibilities of motorcycling by KTM but it is a bona fide attempt to orientate biking into other aspects of our lifestyles. By ploughing the same channel of urban functionality as electric cars and vehicles there are undoubted benefits … but there are also important recreation elements to consider. In the last five years ‘e-parks’ have opened in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK. In this way, more and more people are getting to experience the thrill of electric offroading on a quiet, ‘green’ e-bike in a controlled and safe environment.

The argument for e-mobility seems to get easier every year and now offerings like the 2018 KTM FREERIDE E-XC mean the wares are fast-catching the promises. Plug in.



Photos: KTM


The Great One: Tony Cairoli

There are not many motorcycle racers competing at the highest level with nine FIM World Championships to their name – just two in fact – and Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli is one of them. What possessed the man to seek more silverware at 31 years of age? Will he reach that mythical ten? And how will he deal with a super-competitive teammate in 2018?


Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2017

It will be hard to find a motocross fan that will contest Tony Cairoli’s claim to greatness. There might have been a few, however, that wondered if they would see the Sicilian back in the kind of form that snared six consecutive premier class world titles between 2009-2014. Entering 2017 Cairoli was bubbling after two years of injury frustration (although he still finished as MXGP runner-up while dealing with nerve damage in his back and shoulder) and the influx of riders like Romain Febvre, Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM teammate Jeffrey Herlings; all almost ten years younger than the venerable #222.

Cairoli not only pushed the naysayers away from the fences but did so with some inspirational performances. The comeback from almost last place to win the second moto at round five in Arco di Trento and the excellence in the frying Ottobiano sand for the eleventh Grand Prix of the year are just two instances that come to mind to illustrate that Tony was better, craftier and faster than ever.


Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Neuquen (ARG) 2017

As is the case with any sporting ‘giant’ it would have been foolish to dismiss Cairoli’s chances. His skill set in all terrains and race circumstances and sheer depth of experience of a full-time GP career stretching back to 2004 meant his potential was still far too rich. Fit, energized and comfortable on the KTM 450 SX-F after a clear winter period of testing, Cairoli roared back to prominence with twelve podiums and six Grand Prix wins from the nineteen rounds of 2017.

“He is motivated and he has fun and that is the most important thing. He always wants to be better and better and this is the secret,” revealed Team Manager David De Carli when asked why Cairoli still has the urge to work and take risks to be at the peak of the sport. Many observers – and even the riders themselves – commented on the demands and stressful competitiveness of MXGP this year. It would take something special to rule the roost and Tony made it happen.


Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2017

Having known and spoken regularly to arguably the best offroad racer in the modern era (and he’s in some very special company) for over ten years I have to back-up De Carli’s statement. Cairoli – like another famous Italian in MotoGPTM – does not have to race or doesn’t harbor some desperate career goal out of reach (he is already the second most successful motocrosser ever). He searches the limit out of desire, a love for riding, competition and all aspects of being a top-flight athlete. Cairoli does not shy away from aspects of his job and his lifestyle. He can easily be found in the paddock or the race team and is not locked in his motorhome anxiously waiting for the moments of a Grand Prix weekend that involves firing a button on the KTM 450 SX-F. He embraces being a leader, a champion and, being one of the best at what he does, hitting 32 he’s still not ready to walk away from it, or back off.

“There is not much you can do about age but I think that at 29-30 you are still capable of a good level however the two injuries ‘stopped’ me for two years and I couldn’t work like I wanted,” he said to me at Assen and the Dutch Grand Prix where he reached a new milestone. “I rode less. I trained less. In one way it was good because it gave me more motivation. It is like 2017 ‘saved’ those last two wasted years for me.”

“I didn’t know if I could get over that problem from 2016,” he reflected. “I didn’t really know the extent of the problem. I knew I had snapped a nerve and the doctor said I had to adapt and I might get some strength back but it would never be completely healed. I said: “Ok …” and thought I might have to ride like that for the rest of my life. I kept on going to the gym, kept on doing physio and it slowly got better and better. In the winter I was feeling good and was training more like normal and feeling more relaxed on the bike and with more power. In the end it was good and the winter went well.”

“You know, after you win a title you always think back,” he adds. “It is also a strong point because it means you know how to adapt to a situation and every year you have to work around your rivals and contenders and we have done that well. The winter has always been about trying to improve one area that we felt we were missing the previous season. And, like that, you always grow.”


Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2017

Cairoli is up to nine titles, seven in MXGP and two in MX2. He is within distance of Stefan Everts’ previously ‘untouchable’ haul of ten and a season or two of the 101 Grand Prix win total. This week he gets married and will even indulge in a test of the Red Bull KTM MotoGP bike at Valencia in the coming days. He claims not to be driven by numbers but 2018 represents the chance to put his name at the top of the record books. Another motivating force will be the presence of a hungry Herlings, who won five of the last six rounds of MXGP and clearly gave Cairoli food for thought.

“Yeah, I’m already looking forward to that,” he says. “When you are riding for the championship it is very difficult to keep the strength and train every week. At the beginning and the middle of the season you push your hardest in training to gain as many points as possible at the weekend and then when you make a gap it becomes risky to train too much on the bike or even the bicycle. So while you are slowing down a bit and avoiding more risk there is a competitor who is flying at 110% because he wants to earn points and win.”

“He [Jeffrey] was pushing for GP wins and bonuses and I know about that because last year I was riding badly but still going all-or-nothing every other weekend. I didn’t have a good speed or condition but I still won some GPs because I went for it without thinking. Jeffrey is a big talent. Very fast. I don’t think his technique is one of the best but he puts in so much work on the bike. He is very strong the whole moto and has a lot of power. He rides more on his strength and energy than technique; I like riders who use their technique and who are cleaner with that but everyone has his own style. I’m also different [to him] with my mentality. I have never said ‘I am the best try to beat me’. I have just tried to show it through my career.”


Jeffrey Herlings (#84, NED) & Tony Cairoli (#222, ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Pangkal Pinang (INA) 2017

It is typical of racing and sport that the next challenge immediately follows a previous achievement. Cairoli returned to the top in 2017 but will have to arguably improve again to rule once more in 2018 (there’s the motivator). Regardless of what happens now #222 must be aware of the legacy he is creating. What would a fifteen year old Cairoli – based in Sicily and just a few months before he left for the mainland to chase his ambitions – have said to the statement that he would eventually be lauded as one of the best of all-time?

“Ha, for sure when I was a kid then I was not so good, and it was because I didn’t have anybody to compare [myself] with. I wasn’t like [Ken] Roczen or Herlings who were born close to the ‘capital’ of motocross and had the chance to see many good riders and just by watching others you can grow a lot. I was in Sicily until I was almost sixteen and the only person who I could see was better than me was my cousin, who was doing local races. I learnt from him and watched DVDs of American races but didn’t see a GP until I got onto a 125. It was very difficult because I didn’t know if I had the talent or not until I reached the De Carli team and I was eighteen. It was pretty late. If I had been born in Holland or Belgium then I would have had more skills earlier. It’s OK. I have really enjoyed my career and I regret nothing. About the best? Ha, for sure I would have said ‘no way’. I was top five in the Italian championship but I was nothing special. I wouldn’t have believed you.”

Belief in Tony Cairoli certainly isn’t a problem any more.


Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2017

Photos: Ray Archer/KTM


Ready for Dakar


Ready for Dakar

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing´s Matthias Walkner secured a well-deserved victory at the 2017 OiLibya Rally, which marked the fifth and final round of the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.


Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 RALLY OiLibya Rally (MAR) 2017

Second to the Dakar in terms of size, the Moroccan rally is one of the toughest on the championship calendar. This year, the final race before the Dakar Rally holds even more surprises for the participants due to tricky weather conditions with heavy rain.

Matthias Walkner, former MX3 Motocross World Champion, Cross-Country Rallies World Champion 2015 and runner-up on the 2017 Dakar edition, put the KTM 450 RALLY on the ultimate test before returning to action at the 2018 Dakar Rally in January.

Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 RALLY OiLibya Rally (MAR) 2017

His consistency throughout the rally places the Austrian in a good position right from the beginning, wrapping up his week-long adventure in the dunes of North Africa with victory in the event´s final stage. Topping the standings on the final day of competition, Walkner has won the last round of the 2017 world championship, collecting valuable points to move up to third in the series´ final standings.

“It’s been a long event and I’m really happy that I won it. During the last few days we were faced with overflowing rivers, long stages with tricky navigation and a series of other things that could have completely changed the outcome of the event. The victory feels good.”

“The new bike has given me a lot of confidence to push and take my riding into a new level. I’m happy with my performance here in Morocco and this is very important heading into the Dakar Rally now. It makes the next three months a lot easier for me. The team have done an awesome job and we are all looking forward to the Dakar Rally.”


Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM 450 RALLY OiLibya Rally (MAR) 2017

Photos: Marcin Kin/KTM


Interview of the Month: The ideal ambassador – McWilliams and his KTM role

MotoGPTM star lends special edge to KTM street bikes and now new Customer Racing division but how did a still-competitive 53-year-old Northern Irishman become a lynchpin for the Austrians? We asked …

For more than ten years former MotoGPTM man Jeremy McWilliams has been an important, appreciated and high profile cog in the flowering street portfolio for KTM. He has also kept busy since his days as a gutsy and smart Grand Prix athlete known for figuring out and squeezing the maximum from some unlikely racing packages. As well as his orange shirt for R&D, Customer Racing and the KTM RC CUP, Jeremy is also submerged in Dorna’s British Talent Cup scheme and is splitting time between developing the next range of bikes as well as the fastest kids to eventually race them.


Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) 2016

We agree to meet in the Alpinestars hospitality at Aragón for the final European round of MotoGPTM before they start their three-leg trip to Japan, Australia and Malaysia. It’s easy to talk with the veteran who still gets on the grid and recently contested a round of the SS300 class and also whipped through the lanes of the Northwest 200 road race as late as last year. Aside from his toil with the KTM RC 390, Jeremy’s most obvious KTM link lies with his development contribution to perhaps the best street bike to come out of Mattighofen to-date: the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R.

Before he became a co-forger of desirable naked bikes McWilliams’ union with KTM naturally drifts back to more track-based roots. He tested the first (aborted) attempt by the firm to tackle MotoGPTM in 2004 and was then asked to fill a prep role for the now-defunct (and missed) KTM RC8. Since then orange has become the dominant color.

Over a cappuccino we discuss his position both past, present and future.

So your KTM adventure started properly with the KTM RC8. Was the brief to come in and give some consultation and the job grew from there?
“The KTM RC8 was a brilliant bike and I am sad to see that it is ‘no longer’. I had some good times with that bike and I was involved in all of the launches. My role there was to find a setting for the bike that would work for every size and speed of journalist and marry tire performance to suspension and that kind of thing. I would come along a day or two before the launch and it would sometimes lead to magazine tests where I’d be asked to get the best out of the bike. The KTM RC8 was always top 3-4 with the other sportsbikes and managed to punch above its weight.”

What do you think KTM then saw in you to submerge your role deeper into R&D?
“I remember getting a phone call from them saying “we want you to come and have a look at something … it’s in Tenerife” and I thought ‘that’s a weird location’ but they wouldn’t tell me what it was about. When we got there, we went to a small ‘finca’ where KTM had a load of new bikes and bits and pieces hidden away. It was like something out of a 007 movie, dug into the side of a mountain in Tenerife. I was told we were there to keep away from prying eyes and then they rolled out the very first version of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R; there were only two in existence. I was told to ride it around the roads and give my opinion. Initially I loved what the engine had to offer and I’d never sat on something with as much torque in my life but there were other aspects that I didn’t like. I told them and I don’t think it pleased them.”


Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R

An example?
“I’m still very good friends with the project leader! But Hermann [Sporn] would agree that I didn’t like where the footpegs were and how sporty the bike was. I said I couldn’t reach the gear lever or cover the rear brake, and I use a lot of rear brake. They were set too far back. It led to a whole discussion about the pegs and then I said “while you’re at it the bike steers a whole lot better going right than it does left” and they said “how can that be?!” I was just giving my opinion. They took this information on board and went back to Austria. I had another phone call to come back and try a revised version and they had stiffened up the single sided swinging arm. Around corners the bike was trying to stand up and it was making 140 nm of torque I remember, so you needed this huge, stiff swinging arm to make sure there was no steering from the rear wheel. So, it got fixed … I got asked back, but maybe I am too forward! Instead of saying how great the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R was I told them what I didn’t like about it. Then they gave me a sheet of paper to do what I wanted, it was quite a long list and I didn’t realize what went into producing a street bike and how even a different set of tires would change things. We went through every single manufacturer and profile of tire, head angles, profile, trail and brake, offsets, fork lengths, all of these things. We started playing with ride hs, seat hs, rider position, handlebar position. It all came quickly.”

How long was that period?
“They had to cram a lot of work into a year in a half. It was a stack of work. As with most of these products you don’t have as long as you’d like and you always want more time. We were always up against the deadline.”


Jeremy McWilliams (GBR)

How did you feel about the amazing reception the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R had? Were you also aware that you wouldn’t get many opportunities like that?
“You would never get a job like that with anyone bar a European manufacturer and maybe only one. I ended up working with different development riders in the R&D department that have now gone on to become brilliant test riders. We didn’t have that many who were capable at the time. They have more now, and I think I was able to contribute by helping find what we were looking for. Those guys now are top-notch riders … and I might not get that much work! What we are doing in Customer Racing is orientated solely towards the track: taking those road bikes and developing them for track use. My role with R&D was in helping to produce brilliant road bikes. To answer your question I think after the initial response from the media the reaction was one of ‘phew, they like it’ and then we were all so delighted that we had achieved what we wanted with the bike. It still gets rave reviews and people still love it. I still do some tuition on track and a few guys come to ride naked bikes instead of pure sports bikes and the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R was the first model that could really do that and still does that.”

It must have been a different kind of buzz for you …
“The whole department were really satisfied. We were all patting each other on the back. There were times when we were really ‘up against it’ and had some issues that were hard to overcome. It is not the easiest environment either in R&D when you have to produce something for a certain date but I think we did alright, and there were no thoughts when it came out of ‘we could have done that better’. We were all delighted. I still ride one and I’m on the 2017 model at the moment.”


Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R

Riding a Grand Prix bike must be something but also a prototype that people won’t see for another three-four years is also pretty cool …
“Yeah! I’d like to do more with R&D but it is limiting with time and we have a lot to do in Customer Racing. What would give me a lot of satisfaction would be to see our KTM RC 390 winning races at world level in supersport because I have been involved in the development of that and with WP suspension guys and through a small Italian team. It would be a great pleasure if we can see that project becoming competitive.”

You seem busier than ever …
“The next two months our focus is to deliver the World Final at Jerez with two wildcards to be run at the final round of WorldSBK. That’s the priority and I’m not travelling to the MotoGPTM flyaways. It meant a little bit of space in October to see if R&D needs me. Customer Racing is getting bigger and busier and the next projects will be interesting, so that’s something to look forward to as well as explore the ideas for new racing series around the models. Then we have to get on the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R to look at some new prospects, get it on the track again and improve it even more for the track. There are some good ideas floating around but when they will fall into place we never know.”


Jeremy McWilliams (GBR) KTM RC 390 & KTM RC 390 CUP

Photos: KTM