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Can and Deniz Öncü: The winning twins

Posted in People, Racing

Having the same last name on the screen of their respective KTM RC 250 Rs is the only giveaway of this duo being twins. Brothers Can and Deniz look nothing alike, making it obvious they are not identical twins – they’re fraternal twins.

Deniz is short in stature, barely makes the scales tip to forty kilos, and if you didn’t know any better you’d say he’s quite a bit younger than his brother Can. But since they’re twins, they couldn’t be too far apart age wise; they both celebrated their fifteenth birthday at the end of July. Can is easy to pick out of a crowd, or to distinguish from his brother, obviously. Can is quite a bit taller than Deniz and unlike his ‘little brother’ Can has a lot of bushy hair to stuff into his crash helmet.

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Deniz & Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem

Apart from their physical differences, they share one unmistakable resemblance; they have a feisty right wrist. Can and Deniz are taking the GP paddock by storm, showing impressive talent and even more potential by shaking up the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – the Grand Prix’ talent class. Both Turks are currently racing their second season in the class, taking their fellow rookies hostage with their unmistakable potential for future greatness.

Recently Can underlined his prowess by taking the Rookies championship title prematurely at the Misano GP round. And Deniz isn’t out for the count yet, either, with a chance to finish second in the championship during the final round at Aragon (September 21-23). This season Can looks to be the man to beat of the two, but make no mistake; Deniz took the Asia Talent Cup – an Asian counterpart of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – title last year, so he’s no slouch.

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Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem

On the prowl
Despite their obvious talent, the Turkish brothers have remained off the radar of most motorcycle racing fans, but you can be sure that’s all about to change. The duo is set to move into the Moto3 World Championship rather sooner than later. FIM even changed its regulations to allow Can to move into Moto3 next year. The 2018 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champ would otherwise not be eligible to enter the GP championship, as he’ll only be fifteen when next season kicks off in March. The FIM added an exemption to allow the Rookies Cup champion to be allowed a starting license at fifteen years old, as they have also allowed the Moto3 Junior World Championship winner to progress a year ahead of his peers. The twins from Alanya have a long road ahead of them, but they’re both on the prowl to reel in a successful career in motorsports, and so far things are going really well for the duo.

MotoGPTM is still quite far away for the youngsters, but in working towards that goal the two Turks will always have the experience of Kenan Sofuoglu to build on. As their mentor, Sofuoglu – a five-time World Supersport 600 champion – is working tirelessly to help the Öncü brothers to achieve success. Not just personal success, either. Sofuoglu is the poster boy of Turkish motorcycle racing culture and, as such, has been going above and beyond to outline Turkey as a racing nation. To figure out where the Öncü twins fit into this masterplan, we sat down with Can and Deniz to get to know them. Always good to pick the brain of young and talented riders like them, who have their minds firmly set on making it into MotoGPTM in a couple of seasons time.

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Deniz Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

How did you end up in motorsports?
Can: “We used to go to our father’s office every now and then, and we would pass a place along the way that had two minibikes out in front. We would dream of riding those two bikes together. When we were four years old, we got our first bikes. It was unbelievable! Our father had bought them for us. In the beginning we only rode the bikes for fun, finishing the day off with a barbecue. At some point a friend of ours suggested we should enter a race. Deniz couldn’t partake because he was injured at the time, but I could. I won the race first time out, lapping the number two twice.”
Deniz: “Not a word of a lie. He really did win it by a huge margin.”

Did your father race at some point?
Deniz: “No, he never did. Let’s put it this way; he was the fastest superbike rider in the streets … but actual racing – no, he did not.”

Do a lot of kids ride in Turkey?
Deniz: “They do. Not like in Spain, though. The problem is they don’t train enough to really master racing. We do. We get up at six in the morning every single day to work out. The other kids simply don’t. They get up at around eight or nine, then get breakfast and head to school. Then when they get back from school, they play videogames. If they are into sports, they’ll mostly do that during the weekends. When that’s your approach, you’re never going to make the improvements you need.”

What road did you follow before you came to the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup?
Can: “We started out doing motocross after which we switched to supermoto. Four years ago, we made the switch to road racing in the Turkish NSF100 Cup and R3 Cup. From there we made it into the Asia Talent Cup and since last year we’ve been racing in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup as well.”

What made you switch to road racing over staying in motocross or supermoto?
Can: “Two reasons, actually. The first being speed. The higher the speed, the bigger the rush. And safety was a factor, too. If you crash in motocross, you’re always bound to break something. In road racing that isn’t as big of a concern. We wear a lot of protection and going off usually means you literally slide off, usually quite innocently. Highsiders, however; that’s a different story.”

So you don’t do motocross anymore because of the risk of getting injured?
Deniz: “Yes, it’s just too dangerous. We race almost every two to three weeks, and if you were to break something on a motocross bike, you’re out for a while. That would cost you so many points for the championship and sitting at home doesn’t gain you any more experience. We do on occasion ride supermoto in the winter. Purely to work on drifting the bike and improving our balance on the bike. In the summer we focus on working out in the gym, running, and cycling.”

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Can & Deniz Öncü (TUR) KTM RC 250 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

Does Turkey offer you enough circuits to train at?
Can: “Unfortunately it doesn’t and that’s a big problem. Istanbul Park is the only track in Turkey that could host a GP and we aren’t even allowed to race there because it’s constantly rented out to car drivers. Kenan Sofuoglu does have a small track we train at sometimes.”

Speaking of Kenan; isn’t he the man that persuaded you to switch to road racing?
Can: “That’s right. About four years ago he pushed us into road racing. Mostly because of safety concerns, but it turned out to be a good choice to make the switch.”
Deniz: “Kenan still coaches us. We can call him whenever we have a problem, any problem. He is a good friend of ours and he always sends us his best wishes before a race. And – as a five-time world champion – we can learn so much from him. He really is a hero of ours, like he is to many Turks.”

There’s also a young Turk in the World Superbike paddock, Toprak Razgatlioğlu. Are there any others we should keep an eye out for?
Can: “Not at this time. No-one is training hard enough to make it big in Turkey. Of course I hope more guys can make it to the world championship level, but for the time being that just isn’t the case.”

It seems working hard is the key to success for you, right? It must be quite hard to keep that up for young guys like yourselves.
Can: “Luckily we have our father to support us. He’s constantly pushing us to be as good as we can be. Even when we don’t want to, hahaha. He makes us work to be at one hundred percent all of the time.”

Can you still rival each other on track even though you’re twins?
Deniz: “Of course we can. He might be my brother, but I’ll always try to beat him. That goes both ways. And on track we also help each other when we can. If my lap times are lacking, Can gives me pointers, and I will help him whenever he needs it.”
Can: “I really want to win, but if that is not within reach and Deniz beats me, I can still be happy in the end. It also motivates me to be better next time out, so I can beat him.”
Deniz: “And when he does, I’ll be ready to beat Can the next time. It’s a great motivation for both of us, allowing us to grow and work our way up to a higher level.”

You both have completely different physiques; what sort of effect does that have on the bike?
Deniz: “Everyone always thinks I’m at an advantage because of my weight and length, but it’s the exact opposite, actually. My brother weighs about sixty kilos, the bike weighs eighty kilos. Because of that, he doesn’t have to add weight to the bike in order to make the rider plus bike minimum weight. I have to stick on twenty kilos of ballast somewhere because I only weigh forty kilos. That is never an advantage, because where are you going to put all that weight? Plus, if you’re a bit heavier, it allows you to work the bike more. Extra weight usually adds a bit of extra muscle too.”

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Deniz Öncü (TUR) KTM RC 250 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions

It’s pretty obvious you guys like motorsports, but what else do you enjoy?
Can: “We really like BMX riding. Not too competitively though, because we don’t want to crash. It’s mostly for training and a bit of fun. We don’t enter in races either. We also swim a lot, because it’s both training as well as a way to relax. Personally, I’m not too much into running, but my brother thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world. I think he likes it best because he can really ‘kill’ me at running, but then I’m faster on a bicycle. That’s why I like it.”

It seems you really do everything together.
Can: “We do. We even share a bedroom. We’re together 24 hours a day.”

Will that change in five years when you might both have girlfriends?
Deniz: “Don’t know, but for now we’re not thinking about girlfriends. It’s just bikes. That’s what our entire world is about.”

You’re both riding the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and the Moto3 Junior World Championship this season. In both classes you’re riding KTM; is there a big difference between the bikes?
Can: “The Red Bull KTM Ajo bike is completely different from the Rookies bike. That KTM allows you to change and adjust pretty much everything. That makes the bike way easier to ride than the KTM we run in the Rookies Cup. But then you can also get the adjustments wrong, because there’s just so much you can change. Luckily, we have a very good team behind us that always has plenty of data at hand to sort things out. We learn to set up the bike better each time out, which will be a big advantage when we progress in our careers.”

Wouldn’t that be the ultimate dream end goal; the two of you as the riders for the KTM factory racing team in MotoGPTM?
Deniz: “That would absolutely be great, but we don’t get to hung up on dreams like that. We set small and achievable goals; that way we can be proud of our achievements much quicker. When you set a goal you probably won’t be able to achieve, it can only go badly. So for now our entire focus is on the next step; and that’s Moto3.”
Can: “But yes, it would be a dream to form a single MotoGPTM team as twins. That is something we would both really like.”

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Deniz & Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem

Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem


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Interview of the Month: The words of a master – Herlings talks mammoth 2018

One week after his 24th birthday Jeffrey Herlings blew out the candle on an utterly dominant MXGP season so we collected a few exclusive words with the world’s fastest dirtbike racer.

2018 is just four numbers among a thick ledger of other digits for Red Bull KTM’s newest World Champion (and just his second season in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship) Jeffrey Herlings. His first title with the KTM 450 SX-F was secured in Assen last weekend and crowned a season of emphatic achievement; only the training accident that led to collarbone surgery and his absence from round eleven in Italy in June remains the sole blot on a peachy copybook.

Talking about the commitment to defeat the world’s best – including nine times No.1 and teammate Tony Cairoli (runner-up in 2018) – and the effort into construction of a record-breaking campaign Herlings gave us the low-down.

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Jeffrey Herlings (NED) Assen (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer

Argentina and the last lap victory by passing Tony: it seemed to set the tone for the season. Did you feel like it was a big statement at the time?
“I came into Argentina with high expectations but I also did not know what to expect. On Saturday I was really nervous. I think I was fastest in Timed Practice but then in the Qualification Heat Tony passed me on the third-fourth lap and I wanted to fight back but went down. I was seventh or eighth and I wasn’t riding well. I had two bad starts on Sunday and things were not really going my way but in that second moto I started picking off riders like Desalle and Van Horebeek and then with seven-eight minutes to go it was only Tony in front of me but with a serious gap. To close that gap to the reigning world champion at the first round was something special. To then take the lead on the last lap was a way of making a statement. I was saying: “I’m here for the big picture”.”

Was that the perfect start? How much did it help your confidence?
“It gave me a boost. Every year you come out of the winter period and you never really know what will happen. Some riders do the Italian championship and some riders look to other races but [the first Grand Prix] is the first time where everything really comes together, and with all the top guys. I think everybody wants to make some sort of statement at the first round. I came home from Argentina and thought ‘Ok, good …’ but also thought ‘nineteen rounds to go, must stay fit, must stay healthy’. Obviously, my confidence grew during the season with more and more wins. It was pretty amazing what we have achieved this year and to win so many motos and overall GPs, despite missing a round, I don’t think many people have done that.”

You’ve only dropped something like 17 points all season, which is incredible …
“Yes, I had a couple of second places and a third but to race 36 motos and win 31 of them is pretty cool.”

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Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Neuquen (ARG) 2018 © Ray Archer

What was the secret to beating a nine times world champion and a force of consistency like Tony Cairoli?
“At the beginning of 2017 I did not take the MXGP class that seriously or behave in the way I should because I was not ‘all-in’ and was still going out with friends and doing things that I should normally be doing at my age! I realized quickly that to win in MXGP you have to go for it 110% and be totally committed to the sport from the moment you wake up until the minute you go to bed for ten months of the year. That’s’ what I did this time. The key to winning was making sure that ‘nothing was left on the table’. I watched out for anything and everything: my food, the training, the travelling, resting, testing. Everything had to click together as well as the people around me. It was necessary to beat a great champion like Tony. We raced 18 times together and I beat him 17 times: I think it is not pure luck any more.”

You said you lived like a “monk” to make the results happen – great quote – but that must carry quite a cost …
“If that’s what it takes to win then I have to do it. It was something I milled since the beginning of last winter. Maybe if I was somewhere in between the commitment of 2018 and 2017 then I could still win but I wanted to make sure I gave the maximum and make sure it was enough to win. I’d rather do that for a short number of years and try to collect titles and win races and GPs instead of going easy for fifteen years and maybe not winning much at all. I prefer to go all-out and shorter.”

It has been a season of dreams, real domination. How can you beat it or muster motivation to go again or try to repeat it?
“As a kid I always wanted to win a premier class world championship. MX2 is a world title … but it is nothing compared to this and what I had to do for it. I felt that in MX2 – especially the last years – people would think “Herlings is here, which means he is either going to win or probably go to the hospital’. This time it was against the hard guys, the heavy-hitters, like Tony, [Tim] Gajser, [Romain] Febvre and those that have been taking titles. I really wanted to beat Tony at his best and I don’t think he was at his best this year but he was close. I’ve seen races from him a few years back and also close-up now and personally I don’t think he has been riding as well as he is now and to beat him straight-up? Pretty cool. I have been studying and watching him for a number of years and I’ve always thought ‘I want to beat that guy …’ and to do it for the championship is something really nice.”

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Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Sevlievo (BUL) 2018 © Ray Archer

One negative is that you’ve made it look easy, almost like an MX2 campaign. You’ve said repeatedly that the level is so high but it must be tricky to make people believe that …
“Yeah, it is difficult. People might see it like MX2, but if I look back now then MX2 was a bit like for ‘children’ whereas this [MXGP] is like for the big boys. Winning an MX2 championship is still not easy – believe me – there were still some amazing riders there. The level of MX2 might not be the same as it was in the past now, but everybody looks at it in a different way and from their own perspective. I think the MXGP class is one of the ‘heaviest’ it has ever been; there are multiple world champions in the class and a lot of GP winners. Even now there are some top riders who are struggling to find a ride for 2019. It is a very tough class so that’s why you have to go all-out and put all of your heart into it. Some people might see that and some might not but I’m sure that most in the sport and the industry will.”

What about the emotion of a day like Assen?
“When I woke up in the morning I felt ‘today’s the day’ and I had all the flashbacks of getting up and doing the routine: getting on the road bike, going into the gym … all the ten months of hard work and dedication went down to this day when it was most likely going to happen. My mum and I had tears in our eyes this morning. It was definitely emotional and going into the last lap I knew I was world championship because I’d lapped up to 7th-8th and everything went through my head of what we’d done this year and in the past. I was a big fan of Tony back in 2004 and then he won in Lierop I thought ‘one day I want to be like those guys’ and here we are fourteen years later fighting the biggest racers in the world and I have won the biggest championship I could possibly win.”

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Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer

You’ve credited the team and said the KTM 450 SX-F has been almost perfect. Is there much to improve with the bike because you have an unbeatable package at the moment?
“Well, we have some new things [to come] and the competition is always working to get closer. I think they are really pushing to take the crown away from KTM. This year the team will again have MXGP and MX2 championship and the group also took the Supercross title as well as the 250 West. I think the other manufacturers are looking and trying to stand up to beat us. We have to improve. If we stop development then we won’t be number one any more. We have things to test: something on the engine and also with the chassis to keeping working and to try to be better. Up until now the package has been really good … but if you look at the bikes ten years ago then they were great but compared to now they are pretty crappy! Our 2018 bike is awesome now but again in ten years it will be something that’s not good enough. Development never stops.”

How will you treat yourself in the coming weeks and do you have any other ambitions?
“The plan after the Motocross of Nations is to not ride for about six weeks: I asked for some time off! Obviously, there are still some [promo] things I need to do but that’s my job and I love to do them as part of the marketing but I asked not to ride the bike for a few weeks and finally be able to hang out with some friends and have a holiday. Even small things like when friends go out for fast food and I have to have a salad: scrap that! I want to enjoy a little bit of being a normal 24-year-old kid. We have to make a lot of sacrifices [as a rider] and that’s what I do to try and win. KTM are really supportive of that; they see how hard I have worked and understand wanting a few weeks away from it. I think it is also necessary: I have to recharge the battery if I want to win next year and do it all over again. I don’t really have any burning challenge away from the bike. I just want that normality that I have to avoid during the year! Halfway through November we’ll start the preparation for next year.”

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Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer

Photos: Ray Archer


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Caden Braswell: A bright spark for the future

Posted in People, Racing

Caden Braswell is the 2018 FIM 85cc Junior Motocross World Champion. A 14-year-old with a bright future, Braswell hails from Shalimar in Florida, USA and is an emerging talent that has progressed through the ranks since he began racing at the age of six.

Following in the footsteps of his father, who also raced, Braswell started riding at five years old and began racing a year later. He went on to the compete in the Mini Os, and then at the famed Loretta Lynn´s – the proving ground for many young American motocross racers, and Braswell qualified at his first attempt.

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Caden Braswell (USA) KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography

Fast forward to 2018 and Braswell was selected to compete for Team USA at the FIM Junior Motocross World Championship, which was held in Horsham, Australia. Braswell scored third and first aboard his KTM 85 SX and with it the youngster took the overall honors to be crowned the FIM 85cc Junior Motocross World Champion. Belgian racer Liam Everts won the opening moto in convincing style aboard his KTM 85 SX, while unfortunately crashing out of moto two, and the overall podium was made up of KTM racers with Dutch rider Kay de Wolf in second position and fellow countryman Kay Karssemakers in third. KTM riders Marek Vitezslav and Logan Best won a moto each in the FIM 65cc Junior Motocross World Cup, making it a weekend where KTM racers shone around the hardpack Horsham track.

“It was awesome,” said Braswell when talking about the experience of racing in Australia. “I had a blast and I really got to know the other teammates and their families. It was unlike anything I’ve ever done. Such a cool experience. The team spirit was high and it felt great to represent Team USA,” continued the junior.

“In the first moto I grabbed the holeshot and I was out front, but then my knee brace locked up so I fell back until I was able to fix the issue. I charged back up to third, which was okay.”

“For the second moto I got a horrible start. Mike (who went with Braswell to the event) said I was about 25th or so around the first turn. I’m not sure, but I felt like I was last (laughs).”

“I knew I had to go, so I put my head down and just started pushing. When I saw the chequered flag, I wasn’t sure if I had won. I pulled off the track and everyone came running over yelling that I won! It was incredible. Nothing could beat that feeling.”

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Caden Braswell (USA) © Marc Jones Photography

Braswell was in Australia without his parents, but was supported by Mike Burkeen who was there at the event with the young gun. The Junior World Championships are held over one weekend in a similar format to a MXGP World Championship round, and the outcome is determined by two motos. It’s an intense, but useful experience for young riders to compete against the very best in the world in their category, and while also performing as a part of a team representing their country. Team USA finished in fourth position.

Talking about his bike, Braswell said: “READY TO RACE is what I think of my KTM. KTM provided me with a bike in Australia that we ran stock. I put my suspension on the bike and raced it. It was super-fast – I pulled a start and won a world title right out of the box. So yea, READY TO RACE is a great way to describe my KTM.”

Caden Braswell (#6, USA) & Team USA KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography

Braswell has big dreams for the future, hoping to replicate his home hero Ryan Dungey, who he says was always fast, smooth, consistent and smart. In Braswell’s words he’d love to “make his mark on the sport and break records”. A lover of hills, breaking bumps and ruts, like those found at his favorite track – Millcreek in the USA – Braswell has certainly made the first major step on his ladder of success.

“I’d like to thank my parents for always supporting me. Sean Michael Gerrits, as he really helped us this year. Mike Burkeen for taking me to Australia since my parents couldn’t be there. Ricky and Mike from the AMA for giving me the opportunity. KTM for providing me a great bike to race while in Australia. OB for the awesome graphics. TLD for keeping me looking good. Alpinestars for killer boots and Oakley for great goggles. FMF for helping make my KTM even faster. Dunlop tires for keeping my bike hooked up with great tires. Factory Connection Suspension for making sure my bike handled flawlessly. Mika Metals for sprockets and bars and great support Nihilo Concepts, Lynks Racing and Team USA. I’d also like to thank the other riders and their parents for the support while we were there. It really was a team effort. One for all and all for one Team USA,” concluded Braswell.

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Caden Braswell (USA) KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography

Photos: Marc Jones Photography


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Jeffrey Herlings: The numbers of a motocross master

Posted in People, Racing

The MXGP World Champion-in-waiting and birthday boy has been a statistical force of nature in 2018. On the edge of a momentous weekend ahead for Jeffrey Herlings we delve into the digits …

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Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Kegums (LAT) 2018 © Ray Archer

Today (Wednesday) Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings celebrates his 24th birthday, and is only a matter of hours away from his home Grand Prix this weekend and a double celebration with fulfilment of his lifetime dream of winning an FIM Motocross World Championship in the premier class of MXGP. 2018 has been nothing short of sensational for the Dutchman who has not stopped racking up statistics.

There is always a bigger story behind the numbers (we’ll get to that) but Jeffrey’s track record is perhaps the most comprehensive in any FIM motorcycle racing series this year. How? Just see …

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Jeffrey Herlings (#84, NED) KTM 450 SX-F St. Jean d´ Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer

Since the end of February 2018 MXGP has reached 18 rounds and 36 motos to-date. In that time and through heat, humidity, freezing cold, rain, hard-pack, sand, mud and all types of conditions #84 has:

  • Won 15 rounds – equaling a record total of victories for one season
  • Walked the podium 17 times (he missed the Grand Prix of Ottobiano with injury)
  • Finished no lower than 2nd (twice)
  • Finished no lower than 3rd in a moto, just once (first race of the Grand Prix of Russia)
  • Claimed 29 chequered flags from a possible 34, 23 more than the next rider
  • Led 397 of the total of 643 laps this year, 200 laps more than the next closest rider
  • Only two other MXGP riders have won a moto or Grand Prix in 2018
  • He is currently in his longest winning streak in just his second season in the MXGP class with 7 consecutive successes. They have come in Indonesia (x2), Czech Republic, Belgium, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Turkey. He has also won in Argentina, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Latvia, Germany, Britain and France this year
  • Herlings has led the championship at all but one Grand Prix in 2018
  • If he confirms the title by finishing 15th or higher (and if Tony Cairoli wins) in the first moto of the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix then he will have four career titles: the same amount as Harry Everts, Torsten Hallman and Heikki Mikkola
  • He will be only the third rider to have both MX2 and MXGP FIM World Championship medals
  • If Herlings wins the final two rounds of the season he’ll take his career win tally to 84 (he is already the third most successful motocrosser ever. Stefan Everts holds the record at 101 wins)

Round 19 of 20 will take place in the sand of Assen for the fourth Grand Prix of the Netherlands and is to be staged by the famous Dutch Circuit. Herlings won the event in 2017.

Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Pangkal Pinang (INA) 2018 © Ray Archer

15 wins, 17 podiums, 29 motos, 95-point lead: It almost makes the job look easy but Herlings is always quick to stress the amount of work, compromise and sacrifice that has gone into the scorecard. He also regularly credits the Red Bull KTM Team and perhaps their most crucial work was in refining the works KTM 450 SX-F so that by round five in Portugal Herlings was in frequent contention for Grand Prix holeshots. Aside from the scrutiny of battling and facing-off against teammate, reigning champ and nine times title winner Tony Cairoli, Herlings also had other hard moments. Prior to round eleven he sustained a multiple fracture to his right collarbone while training and missed the Grand Prix of Ottobiano. Less than three weeks after surgery he returned at the Grand Prix of Asia and hasn’t been toppled from the top of the podium since. Ottobiano and the dramatic loss of 50 points from the lead he’d been steadily building in the series was a stark reminder of the horrendous narrow margins between glory and disaster in MXGP and helped Herlings refocus. The rest has been written in the annals of the sport.

Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Wayne Banks (AUS) KTM 450 SX-F St. Jean d´Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer

Photos: Ray Archer



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KTM ADVENTURE RALLY: Relive the adventure

KTM ADVENTURE RALLYs allow riders from all over the world to discover the true meaning of adventure. 6 rally, 6 countries: Australia, Italy, South Africa, USA, Canada and New Zealand. Each rally awaits the riders with diverse tests of character and skills. You have doubts whether this is the right adventure for you? We offer some insight.

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© C. Wood

Three of the six rallys are already completed and leave the participants with unforgettable experiences, memories and new friends.

Carrying on from the highly successful KTM ADVENTURE RALLYs in other countries, the European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY was held for the second time in 2018. At the end of June 150 hardcore KTM ADVENTURE riders descended on the island of Sardinia to enjoy the best adventure riding the northern Sardinian regions had to offer.

Here is what the participants of this year´s European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY experienced during three days of riding on and offroad.

Three KTM ADVENTURE RALLYs are still to come in 2018 before we launch the next adventure: the Ultimate Race.

Photo: C. Wood
Video: Luca Piffaretti/Filmer Force Productions



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Team Junior Luciano Benavides: Why I wanted to race Dakar

KTM Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides is 23 years old. Joining the rally squad, the Argentinian had no previous experience in the notoriously difficult rally races, but he had the speed, the will and the right kind of personality for the job. Heading towards his second Dakar, which will take place next January, the KTM-ace is optimistic on what he can achieve.

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Luciano Benavides (ARG) KTM 450 RALLY 2018 © Rally Zone

Having started racing at just five years old, Benavides competed up to top level in enduro nationally and raced the ISDE in 2015 and 2016 – winning a medal in Spain 2016, whilst showing his potential. The Argentinian went on to race the ‘Full Gas Enduro’ series in the USA, and finished as the top rookie rider of the year, as well as second overall in his class. A solid foundation to what was to happen next, some might say.

“In 2017 I started to try and move to the rallies, and the opportunity came with the KTM factory. Alex (Doringer) called me and said he had a chance to give me a factory ride. I said yes of course, it’s a big opportunity. I am still so happy, it’s such a unique opportunity and I’m the junior in the team. Last year I started in August with the rally in Argentina, I didn’t know how to navigate or nothing, and I crashed on the first day. I broke my collarbone,” said Benavides.

“After that I went to Morocco in October, my second race, and I finished I think in around 16 or 17 overall and second as a junior, which gave me the qualifying for the Dakar. It was good. I trained a lot for the Dakar and that was my third race. In stage 10, which was my home stage as I live in Salta, I was riding in 15th overall in the standings and on that stage I was going really well, I was around fifth or sixth on the day. Then, I had a big crash and broke five vertebrae in my back. It was really painful in the middle of my back and I was really frustrated. It was a steep learning curve.”

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Luciano Benavides (ARG) KTM 450 RALLY 2018 © Future7Media

Now recovered and having spent time over in Europe with the KTM Factory Racing Team testing, Benavides is ready to race Chile, Argentina and Morocco prior to heading to his second Dakar in January. Benavides’s brother Kevin began racing rally in 2015 having seen the huge interest in the South American region thanks to Dakar. Luciano willingly supported his brother at his first Dakar in 2016 and he decided then, having followed the race, that he wanted to be a rally racer.

“I followed the Dakar in 2016 with my brother, and I said I wanted to race it. I was looking at the KTM team from the other side, taking pictures of Toby, Sam – they were all my idols, and now I’m riding with them and they are my teammates. You can say it’s a nice opportunity, and I really like the rallies. It’s fun, it’s about taking a decision, trusting yourself, I like the fast piste, it’s cool. I’m riding with the best riders in the world in the best team. This was always my dream, to be a factory rider and do what I love. I’m living the dream.”

“My dad rides in enduro as an amateur – in Salta the enduro was not really famous,” explained Benavides, when asked how he got into riding. “Then my brother started, and when I was younger I was always trying to be like him, trying to copy him, and we are so competitive. I want to beat him in everything and he is the same. It is really cool, because it pushed me to grow up as a rider and as a person I think. It’s a family passion. My sister also rides for a hobby, she has a KTM 250 SX-F.”

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Luciano Benavides (ARG), Matthias Walkner (AUT) & Toby Price (AUS) 2018 © Rally Zone

There’s a huge difference between Luciano’s home place and Europe, and the economy in Argentina makes it quite difficult for aspiring riders. The base cost of a motorcycle is high, and it’s extra challenging for amateur riders to progress in the sport. While the youngster explains there are some nice places to ride in Salta, it’s more enduro than motocross due to the mountains close to the city.

Luciano is based still in Argentina, and will continue to train there, whilst travelling to Europe for group tests, which are predominantly done with the team in Spain close to Jordi Viladoms’ home. The weather is good in Salta, and it’s possible to do a lot of roadbook training nearby, or even in Chile. Luciano explains it wasn’t easy stepping into the team, and he felt a level of expectation, but after a hard learning curve the KTM rider is ready to mature as a rider and learn his craft.

“Now I feel I have more confidence with the guys in the team. In the beginning for the first time it was really strange for me. They were like my idols and now we ride together. They are super good guys, they teach me a lot and now I’m trying to learn from them. We have the last three winners of the Dakar, Antoine is a five-time world enduro champion, and there is so much talent.”

“I feel pressure. It’s always pressure, and in the racing. Last year I felt that pressure a lot because I say ‘okay’ I’m in the best team; I was trying to show them how fast I could be, and that was my first mistake I think. This is why I think I crashed in the Ruta 40 in Argentina. In the Dakar it was a different story, because I felt pressure in front of the people of my city, as I was the home hero. The team told me to be careful, and not to push in Salta, and I didn’t listen, so I crashed because of this. I learned some hard lessons.”

“In the Dakar anything can happen, and a lot will happen; you can get lost, you can crash, you can get bike problems, and I learned a lot, so now I feel I have more experience. The navigation is something really difficult, you have to stay focused on this and your riding. It’s really hard to keep the concentration and focus for five hours or more. In rally it’s long stages, long days, you don’t sleep well in the Dakar, and it’s a lot of hours. Enduro is more aggressive, more explosive.”

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Luciano Benavides (ARG) KTM 450 RALLY 2018 © PhotosDakar.com

Luciano’s goal now is to finish the next races and learn – he needs more experience having only really done two rally races so far. He would like to be a top 10 Dakar rider aboard his KTM 450 RALLY factory machine, and a good result in the junior class in the Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, as he has two years left competing there.

“My life is 90% dirt bikes. I wake up thinking about bikes, and go to sleep also thinking about bikes. I love spending time with my friends, hang out with them, but mostly it’s about bikes and racing. I really love it.”

“I’m also studying to be an accountant. I did two years, and there’s two years left now. When I signed with the factory team all my focus changed towards the rally, because this is what I love and it’s a unique opportunity. We will see when I can continue with the studies, because it’s important as well for the future.”

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Luciano Benavides (ARG) 2018 © PhotosDakar.com

Photos: Rally Zone | Future7Media | PhotosDakar.com


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From wheels to waves: MXGP stars on the water!

Red Bull KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff talks about his buzz for jet-skiing and how the fun watery escape actually has some similarities to his MXGP ‘day job’.

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Glenn Coldenhoff (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer

It’s fitting that the 27-year-old Dutchman (and many other riders actually) is a fan of the ‘water bike’ because it was an American motocrosser, Clayton Jacobson, that first came up with the design for the ‘jet-ski’ in the 1960s and his eventual agreement with Kawasaki popularized the water craft and led to the emergence of a whole scene.

Jet-ski has its roots in dirt bike racing and while the ripples and waves of a lake in Belgium is quite a step from the hard-pack of an MXGP circuit, Coldenhoff feels there are elements in parallel to what he does on his KTM 450 SX-F, especially when it comes to sand funnily enough.

“Yeah because it’s all about balance,” he says. “I use a stand-up ski; which is much more enjoyable than a sit-down. To make fast corners is not easy because the rear end wants to come up and it feels like you want to make a short turn, which you don’t want to do! It’s hard on the body so it’s good training. If I have a day off then I still want to jet-ski because you get a workout. It’s hard on the back but the legs also. You are making small movements all the time.”

“I think jet-skiing helps for riding,” he adds. “If you have a GP somewhere like the sand at Lommel then you are moving a lot on the bike all the time as well. If there are a lot of jet-skis on the lake then it can get rough with the waves. It is a little similar to the sand: the ski is moving and you are almost in a similar position with the body. Cornering is way different on the water of course; you have a handlebar but you almost have to lean off the ski to get a nice turn. You are more like a passenger of a sidecar. I’m practicing quite a lot.”

Glenn Coldenhoff (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer

Coldenhoff is negotiating his third year as a Red Bull KTM rider and is hunting his first podium finish in 2018 in a season that has seen his two teammates set a new level of performance in the premier class. It has been an incredibly demanding MXGP championship where Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli have set the pace from the opening round in Argentina. Coldenhoff has had his most consistent term on the KTM 450 SX-F to date and is closing towards the top six of the standings. His fascination with the water is a recent trend and began with a fancy towards a certain Red Bull garment.

“It started with a friend of mine who had a jet-ski. I think it was two years ago and I really enjoyed it, especially in the summer days when it is hot,” he recalls. “Since coming back to Red Bull we have an athlete App and I was ordering caps and clothes and always trying for a wetsuit, but it never came. I was talking with my friend and he said “the day that it arrives we’ll go and buy a jet-ski.” That finally happened last summer and about four weeks later we had the jet-ski but the weather was starting to turn. I would say we’ve done a lot more hours on it this year already.”

“Jet-skiing is still a little bit ‘racing’ and we have a track on the water we can follow,” ‘The Hoff’ adds. “It’s still quite difficult for me and I’m crashing a lot but I can play a little bit with the jumps and dives.”

Glenn Coldenhoff (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer

Coldenhoff has to deal with the horsepower of the factory KTM 450 SX-F and the speed of MXGP across the rough terrain and surfaces of twenty tracks in the series is almost scary when seen up close: there is little doubt it is one of the most demanding and risky motorsports. And also one of the most spectacular. How does he find the power and thrill of jet-skiing in comparison? “It’s not that strong in terms of power,” he opines. “If you go full throttle, straight and without a helmet then it feels fast. With the helmet then you don’t have the water in your face and it’s a different sensation. When I’m playing I don’t use the helmet all the time but when I want to make some fast laps then I’ll wear it with some goggles. I feel safer that way.”

In a sport riddled with injury (an MXGP racer can count himself extremely lucky if he survives the season without a visit to the doctor) Coldenhoff smiles when we mention the hardness of the water in contrast to the dirt. “Not hard at all! The worse thing is if you crash and part of you hits the ski but most of the time when you lose control then you go one way and the ski goes the other! Even if you bounce on the water the wetsuit helps in terms that it doesn’t hurt. It’s a lot of fun.”

Glenn Coldenhoff (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer

Photos: Ray Archer


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Interview of the Month: Stefan Huber – Testing, Testing – 1, 2!

Stefan Huber talks rally testing, rider characters and improvement by destruction!

Stefan Huber, the KTM Factory Racing Rally Team Leader, is a rally expert and master of development for a machine that has to survive and win one of the toughest motorcycle challenges on the planet. With environmental extremes from the incredible heat in the desert, to the freezing temperatures and high altitude in the mountains, plus dunes, technical riding, hardpack, sand and sometimes mud, Dakar racers need a bike that can do it all whilst remaining reliable over thousands of kilometers during the 14-stage race.

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Stefan Huber © Future7Media

KTM has won the last 17 Dakar Rallies. The team is characterized by a strong work ethic, motivation, knowledge and experience, as well as a line-up of talented riders; for sure, these are major factors in KTM’s long-standing success at a race in which anything really can happen.

But central to the success is the star of the show, the KTM 450 RALLY factory machine. Serious innovation, special technical features and the only bike to be developed specifically for rally, this is the ultimate machine when it comes to rally competition. The bike is a setup compromise of many things for all terrain, for full or empty loads of fuel, for hot and cold conditions. Testing is a key part of KTM’s rally program, whether at a world championship race or at one of the team’s test facilities, the focus is always in some way towards the next Dakar.

“It’s always a compromise,” said Huber when talking about bike setup.

“In the morning of the race you can start in the dunes, and then in the afternoon you’re on the hardpack ground at Dakar, so you have to have a balance. The riders have some adjustment they can do while they are riding with some clickers on the suspension, but their setup is basically a compromise,” said Huber.

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KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin

This year saw the latest generation of KTM machine race Dakar and succeed. With a new era of riders emerging since the Marc Coma and Cyril Despres days, bike development has gone in a new direction. And with three Dakar winners in the team, the challenge is to find the revolutionary sweet spot when it comes to a factory race bike that suits every rider’s style and preferences.

“With the latest generation of riders in the team our focus for the factory bike was to develop a bike around these riders to suit their riding styles. We looked for improved handling, lower weight and a bike that also meets the demands of the conditions and intensity we now find at Dakar. The enduro style with lots of speed, and dunes followed by high altitude stages is where we made a big focus,” continued Huber.

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Sam Sunderland KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin

When it comes to testing and development with KTM R&D input, Huber and his team in the KTM motorsport division utilize masses of knowledge to create the bikes that will take on the toughest of challenges. Design agency Kiska works with both KTM R&D and KTM motorsports on the overall ergonomics of the bike, and the WP motorsport department is a key factor in development of the frames. The work never stops, as they say; after the race is before the race.

“There are always things the riders are searching for so we work on the frame, new swingarm ideas, different stiffness in the chassis and so on. Maybe one rider wants comfort, maybe some want improved turning, and we also work on the electronics like the traction control for example. We use a lot of calculation software and listen to the requests of the riders to keep moving in the right direction, whilst also winning races.”

“We do a lot of the development in motorsport, Kiska works with us on the development of the bodywork and the engine base is from motocross, although we modify it further to suit the demands of rally and the setup of the bike. The WP motorsport department works closely with us to develop the frames. We use calculation software to consider the stiffness of the frame and eventually we produce a base for testing to see the direction we want to go. The riders are always searching a lot for comfort especially for the long stages.”

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KTM 450 RALLY © PhotosDakar.com

With lots of different characters in the team, including the incredible Laia Sanz who steered her KTM steed to complete her eighth finish from eight Dakars with a 12th place overall in January, we asked Stefan who is the most useful when it comes to testing.

“In the team there are some really different characters. Some have a better feeling for testing and we can get more information from them. Some are more different in the approach, but we have learned over the years you get one guy to give the feedback if he is stronger in this area, and another one to confirm – sometimes you have to push a little for the information and take an average feedback from all of the riders.”

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Laia Sanz KTM 450 RALLY © Marcin Kin

Former rally star Jordi Viladoms is the Rally Team Manager and also the Spanish ace still takes part in some long-distance testing for the KTM rally team such as putting many kilometers on an oval to develop the front mask and aerodynamics. Part of the test process in addition to the test benches where engines can be run to failure to see where improvements can be made, is to ride the bikes literally until they break or far beyond their planned usage to look for any weakness or areas that can be improved.

“Last year we did an endurance test on the test bench for the engine. With the transmissions we must do the testing physically, because on the test bench we can only run in one gear. We do hard testing on the engine and last time we made 1000’s of kms in a dry lake, where it was 50 degrees or more. The factory riders do this. It’s tough on the riders, I know it’s not really enjoyable for them spending so much time riding just to put hours and hours on the bike, but it is necessary for us to know the outcome for the best possible development for Dakar.”

With every year it’s a huge pressure and a challenge to maintain KTM’s incredible win-record at Dakar, but the work is continuous and the motivation is high. In the months between each Dakar race hours and hours of testing and development ensures that KTM remains at the forefront of rally technology, while also striving for wins in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World championship. We look forward to Dakar 2019!

Photos: Future7Media | Marcin Kin | PhotosDakar.com


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Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: Dakar prep is a season-long process

The incredibly tough Dakar Rally is definitely the highlight and most prestigious race in the calendar for the Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team. However, the work never ceases; not only does the team race selected rounds of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, testing and development continues right the way through the year.

The meticulous planning for Dakar that’s required for race success is season-long, and the team has fixed training sessions with its riders to test new parts and bring them together from their home locations around the world. These sessions, often coordinated utilizing the road book expertise of team manager and former racer Jordi Viladoms, enhances the team spirit and provides an opportunity for on-location feedback with KTM and WP away from the races. Predominantly this is done in Spain, and the 17-time winning Dakar team recently allowed the cameras behind the scenes whilst testing to see Matthias Walkner, Toby Price, Sam Sunderland and KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz in action. Thanks to the Red Bull Content Pool we’re able to share some of the best pictures with you.

Matthias Walkner (AUT) © Anjuna Hartmann/Red Bull Content Pool

Photos: Anjuna Hartmann/Red Bull Content Pool



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Collecting Moments #8: 238 days and I’m back in the saddle!

A lot of people have a passion, or an area of their life, that feels all-encompassing and really defines who they are. When this thing – whatever it is – gets taken away from them suddenly and unexpectedly, it can really turn their world upside down and make them view life from a different perspective. In my case, it was the world of motorsport, where I’d made so many awesome memories. Over the last few months I’ve really experienced the drawbacks of the sport. But it’s this that makes my return that much sweeter.

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© Jakob Ritter

“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” – a phrase I’ve heard a lot. It’s certainly true, though! I’d gotten way too used to packing up my stuff on a Friday afternoon and heading off to enduro training or for a race. Everything changed after my knee injury though – completely overnight – and I can still vividly remember that first weekend after the accident: there are only a few times in my life when I’ve ever felt so empty. The last few months haven’t been easy for me, but, sadly, injuries are as much a part of our sport as success. And it might sound strange, but each goes hand in hand with the other, bringing you to this whole other level as a sportsperson and human. I’ve now experienced both sides and learnt as much from my failures as I have from my success.

Never before have I been so desperate to get back on my KTM 300 EXC. The feeling I got when I climbed back on it 238 days after my injury, pressed the E-starter, felt the engine and just rode – that was every bit as good as riding across the finish line at the Red Bull Romaniacs!

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© Jakob Ritter

My physio gave me the green light for my first ride at my last session and it was a moment I’d been waiting on for what felt like an eternity. For the first time in eight months, I got to experience that familiar “I’m packing my stuff for the weekend” feeling. This time I really had to make sure I’d packed everything though: helmet, gloves, glasses, protectors … and my KTM, of course!

And it wasn’t just any weekend when I went on my first enduro ride out: it was the weekend of the Erzbergrodeo! Watching the Red Bull Hare Scramble live on TV really gave me the motivation I needed. Watching my enduro racing heroes riding and battling it out gave me this rush of anticipation and energy. It was weird putting my helmet on – a mixture of joy and nerves. I mean, yeah, I’d ridden a bit on trial and motocross bikes since the injury, just to keep the feeling alive, but enduro is this whole other thing for me – it’s really the pinnacle of offroad two-wheel racing. That’s where I really feel at home and I think that’s what made me a little nervous. Could I still do it? What if I’d forgotten everything and it was like starting back at square one? How was my knee going to feel? – I’m sure I’m not the first sportsperson to battle with those kinds of thoughts when riding for the first time following an injury, but it was all new to me.

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© Jakob Ritter

As soon as I pressed the E-starter, though, that old familiar feeling came flooding back. The comforting sound of my KTM instantly made me feel secure. My hands stopped shaking as I put it in gear and set off towards the forest. The world around me faded away and I was able to really enjoy those first magical moments – it was just me and my bike. Reunited at last! – That’s all I could think. I felt free, light, and at peace!

After 238 days full of highs and lows, I finally felt like my puzzle was complete and all the pieces were in place.

Obviously, you can’t just pick up where you left off after that kind of a break, though. I was more cautious, a little slower, and even kind of clumsy. But none of that mattered to me in that moment because I was just happy and grateful to be riding enduro again.

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© Jakob Ritter

I have dialed things down a notch to prepare for new adventures. I’m maybe not quite READY TO RACE yet, but I’m back where I’m happiest and that’s given me a crazy amount of energy.

Get to know more about Larissa on the KTM BLOG – Collecting Moments #7: Training after a knee injury – or check out her website!

Photos: Jakob Ritter


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#inthisyear1978: Gennady Moiseev rides KTM to become World Champion for the third time

KTM again dominated the smaller MX2 class in impressive style at the 14th World Championship race in Loket, Czech Republic. Riding his KTM 250 SX-F, Spanish ace Jorge Prado and defending champion Pauls Jonass from Latvia were top of the leaderboard with a significant lead over the third-place rider. Even 40+ years ago, the KTM quarter-liter factory bikes were the ones to beat if you wanted to steal the title at the then 250cc Motocross World Championships.

All the same, back in 1978, things were not looking so good for KTM as the season got underway in the Spanish city of Sabadell. Belgian rider Harry Everts had just beaten reigning 250 World Champion Gennady Moiseev (who had broken his forearm a few weeks previously in training) into eighth place on his Spanish Bultaco. Just one year earlier, KTM had looked unbeatable in the quarter-liter class – World Championship title for Moiseev, second place for Vladimir Kavinov and with Belgian rider André Malherbe in third place.

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Gennady Moiseev 1977/78 © KTM

Over the course of the season, the sports instructor from Leningrad had just got better and better, and succeeded in claiming pole position on his 97-kilogram 250cc 2-stroke KTM – a position he held on to right up until the final race. Kavinov landed fourth place, also a pretty respectable race result. At the MX of Nations, held in the West German town of Gaildorf in 1978, the Soviet KTM factory riders were on top form once again – Gennady Moiseev, Vladimir Kavinov and Valeri Korneev won the Trophée des Nations, along with Juri Khudyakov, beating Germany and Belgium.

Looking back, the early 70s saw the world in the midst of the Cold War and even motorcycling was split into east and west. Victories against western manufacturers brought with them extreme prestige for countries in the eastern bloc. In Enduro racing, it was predominantly riders from Czechoslovakia and East Germany who found success on Jawa and MZ motorcycles at the European Championships and the International Six Days Enduro. In motocross, the focus was on CZ from Czechoslovakia, on which Soviet rider Victor Arbekov and East German Paul Friedrichs had found World Championship glory. The fact that a rider from the USSR won a 250cc World Championship title on a western bike in 1974, well and truly deserves its place in the pages of offroad sporting history.

As far back as 1972 KTM had become aware that there were several talented riders in the Soviet 250 Team who nonetheless lacked the wherewithal to compete successfully. When the motorcycles belonging to the members of the Soviet team were stolen from the paddock the night before a race, KTM offered some of their own machines to the team leader, whose riders were now without bikes. According to protocol, the team leader should have been thrown out of the Communist Party for accepting this offer, but after securing their first victories, the Soviets came to terms with the situation; and when Gennady Moiseev became World Champion two years later, he was promoted to the position of major in the Soviet Army.

With three world championship titles, Gennady Moiseev is the most successful motorcyclist of the former Soviet Union. He competed in his first motocross race in 1967, on a Czechoslovakian CZ. Over the next few years, he undoubtedly showed flashes of talent, but it was only when he climbed on to a KTM in 1972 that real success came, and by 1974 he had won his first World Championship title for the Mattighofen-based company. After a poor season that saw him plagued by injuries, he returned to his old form in 1976 and ended up losing out to Finland’s Heikki Mikkola by an extremely narrow margin of just a few world championship points. In 1977, he only had to worry about competition from his own team. KTM boss Erich Trunkenpolz presented him with a Mercedes when he won his second World Championship.

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Gennady Moiseev, Erika & Erich Trunkenpolz 1977/78 © KTM

He then went on to win his third title precisely 40 years ago. His last major success for KTM came in 1979, when he was fourth in the world and won his last World Championship race. When the Soviet Federation decided that their rider should return to CZ in 1980, Moiseev still stayed active in the motorcycling world for a several years but without achieving any kind of noteworthy success. Following the end of his active career, he worked as a motocross trainer and sports coach, eventually being elected president of the Russian Motorcycle Federation in 2000.

Gennady Moiseev died on 24 July 2017 at the age of 69 in his home town of St. Petersburg.

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Gennady Moiseev 1978 © KTM

Photos: KTM 


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The world´s toughest hard enduro rally

Posted in People, Racing

The Red Bull Romaniacs, now in its 15th year, is known as the toughest hard enduro rally and marking the halfway point of this year´s World Enduro Super Series.

The participants faced approximately 200 km of some of the toughest tracks the Carpathian Mountains have to offer and tackled extremely difficult conditions following heavy rainfall. With an already challenging course, with terrain designed to test even the most hardened Romaniacs veterans, it became even more tricky and the race tested all riders to their maximum – to claim a finish was an achievement in itself.

These are some of the best pictures of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders Taddy Blazusiak, Josep Garcia, Nathan Watson and Jonny Walker, who finished third at the 2018 edition to retain his position at the top of the championship standings, closely followed by a strong Manuel Lettenbichler who crossed the finish line just shortly after the winner.

Manuel Lettenbichler (GER) © Future7Media

Photos: Future7Media



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Moving on: What Ryan did next …

A year on from his shock decision to end one of the most prolific careers in AMA SX/MX we caught up on a drastic change of life for Ryan Dungey, how he has eased off the gas and what he’s doing next.

We are at the launch of the 2019 KTM SX range of bikes at Tony Cairoli’s Malagrotta circuit near Rome. Ryan Dungey sits down to talk and is friendly, engaging and the consummate professional (we wonder how much he’d earn if we gave him 5 dollars for every interview he performed in an eleven-year career and through winning seven major AMA titles). Physically he still looks like he can buckle some boots and set a new lap time around the hard-pack course, and actually after our interview he quickly suits up to go riding with journalists and athletes like Red Bull KTM’s MX2 star Jorge Prado.

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Ryan Dungey (USA) 2018 © Marco Campelli

Dungey has hardly changed since he won his third 450 SX title in Las Vegas last summer and then held a press conference shortly afterwards to announce he was stepping away from the sport at 27. Compared to the #5 we encountered at races and through media projects when he was full-depth in the regime of being a pro Supercross and motocross racer (thirty weekends of competition a year), Ryan has the relaxed air and stress-free demeanor of a man who no longer has to devote so much energy to focus, drive and concentration.

We were able to talk for a long time about the switch from athlete to able-assistant, from single-mindedness to a new form of sacrifice and about finding new ways to channel the determination and desire that helped Dungey to hold the longest consecutive podium appearance record in Supercross with 31 trophies in a row.

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Ryan Dungey (USA) 2018 © Marco Campelli

So, after the press conference last year what did you do? There was no routine any more …
“One hard part was making the decision and moving on but then I also didn’t really have a plan. I kinda knew what I wanted to do next … and I didn’t really disappear. I stayed in California because the ‘Outdoors’ was coming with the first two rounds there. I didn’t have anywhere to be so I kinda stuck around and wanted to see those races. Marvin [Musquin] and I are pretty close so I supported him. We had a bit of a vacation and nothing that was really structured.”

It seemed like you ‘stopped’ but didn’t stop. You were there in KTM colors, on TV, media roles …
“Yeah … for sure I wanted a break but I still enjoyed lots of parts of what I did. It was not like I hated it but it got to a point where I – I was not exhausted – but I knew ‘this was it …’ I’d had enough. Making the decision took a whole year while racing and it was hard because you are supposed to be racing with the mindset of competition. I was trying to make a decision that was tricky to leave on the shelf.”

So, it wasn’t a case of ‘run to the beach´ …
“I think you need to do those things and regroup and refresh but I was too young to retire from my career and certainly from life. I will always want to contribute and add to this world in some way. Something has to get you out of bed in the mornings and everybody has something that makes them tick. So, I thought about how I could give benefit to other people and thankfully I have a lot of good partners and could transition into a good role with people like KTM, Fox, Oakley and Red Bull. But I didn’t just want to go into it and be paid to do nothing. I wanted to have some influence and for KTM that might be through testing or helping the team or the riders. I wanted to add to something and do meaningful work and not just look for a paycheck. That was my outlook and also as a racer.”

With the demands of the sport and the schedule you must almost have to live every day with focus and goals and compromise. To not have that any more – and for the first time in your life – was it bewildering?
“As a racer your schedule is jam-packed and maybe that is the case for a lot of jobs. The big adjustment is the change of pace. I’m learning patience and not being in a rush and not getting resentful and bitter. It’s easy to suddenly think ‘I’m not satisfied’ so it is important to have a purpose. You can take time away but it’s good to have something that drives you … not having that is a bad feeling. You look for more projects. My whole schedule was planned out and now it isn’t, and that was a big shift. It has forced me to look at my life and my motives and to question it all and get more answers. When you are in the routine of racing then you just go with it and you don’t really catch things that might be ‘red flags’. You might think ‘maybe I should go racing again because I can improve the monthly bank income much more’ but that’s not right. I learned a lot about myself in this process.”

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Ryan Dungey (USA) 2018 © Marco Campelli

Was it like having a new identity?
“No, because I always knew who I was. I’m Ryan Dungey, not a dirtbike racer called Ryan Dungey. I raced dirtbikes: it is not who I am but what I did. I always knew I shouldn’t find my identity in racing. It was never an issue but I think I got spoiled in a way because in that position [of a champion] you can have a lot of influence and benefit a lot of people and I liked that feeling.”

Was there also some fear about heading into the ‘unknown’?
“It feels like there are a lot of options and you can go in many different directions and that can be confusing. You still want to make sure you make good choices. As a racer all the attention is on you and – not that I was ever self-absorbed – but you are kinda spoiled and then all of a sudden the attention goes onto the next rider and isn’t there anymore. I did not crave the attention and it was good for me to get out of it. I was ready for something else and that aspect never drove me.”

Every racer says they are selfish and self-centered. It seems a weird way to exist …
“I am still trying to understand that also. Selfishness obviously isn’t good and people say it is a selfish sport and you might have an important role but nobody is not being forced to do anything. We are all working towards a goal. For a rider to recognize the position he is in is like a guy leading a successful business. Of course, everyone wants to please him but he is also turning around and saying ‘how can I make my team or business better or find improvements?’ I think riders need to recognize the position they are in and I learned how people feed off you and how you can motivate your team. It changed for me when I stopped looking at it like ‘how can everybody help ME win a championship?’ to ‘how can I help this team to win a championship?’ then it took off in a good way. So, it is selfish … in a way. Another thing is that these riders are so young, and you do grow out of that as you get older otherwise it makes you miserable. At some point you need to look around and say ‘is everyone still onboard?’ and that means your family, your wife, your circle. I don’t think mine were over it but they were coming to races every single weekend for me for eleven years. Maybe they enjoyed it but I was ready to move on.”

You obviously had a lot of success and must have enjoyed the process of reaching those goals. Do you miss that sense of achievement?
“No because winning races and championships – the achievement part – they were temporary. I knew that people would forget about that sooner or later. There will be records and this-and-that but people move on. Winning a championship is a great feeling and something great to remember but the very next day it is onto the next championship. You cannot live in that moment. You work for six months and you accomplish a goal but it is short lived. I try to see past the achievement and look for more meaningful stuff. You can win a race or a championship but if you treat people like crap then how does it matter? Being a good ambassador and leader and representing the brand and being a good influence for kids: that is the stuff that is impactful and life-changing. The success on the track was good and kids can look up to that and you can have an integrity that others might want but the bigger picture was the effect on other people. Championships do help bike sales though! And other areas …”

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Ryan Dungey (USA) 2018 © Sebas Romero

It’s been just over a year; do you feel you’ve found Ryan Dungey 2.0?
“Yeah, I do. I miss the racing and I miss a lot of things … more so the memories. They pop up. But I have found the next step and how I can impact and still benefit people within the sport, the kids, the riders, the team. Representing the brand and the sponsors and what role I can have. Things are still slowly unfolding but I feel I have found my direction.”

You look like you can race tomorrow, so you have obviously avoided the cookie jar. Are you still working out?
“Oh yeah. I think I just told my wife Lindsay that I think it has only been three days off since I finished racing. I enjoy it because I don’t have to do it. And I can do different workout routines and not just focus on ‘what’s your lap time?!’ We’ve always lived a healthy lifestyle.”

So, what do you want to do next?
“I’m a big dreamer. I think about our sport quite a lot and what I can do and since the moment I started I always had the thought ‘how can we make this bigger and better?’ It is tough because there are a lot of separate groups in America and not everyone is working together. So, one of my big goals is to try to get everybody working in unity so other areas can benefit; I think there are a lot of areas of potential in the sport that hasn’t been tapped into everybody gets along … but you only get what you give and companies know that; if you don’t invest then you don’t grow and I have seen that learning curve [work]. I’ve been part of teams like that and it all comes to a stop at some point because you quit giving and investing. I think if we worked together then it would affect everybody through the whole chain. It is not something I want to have control over but maybe at least have a voice in. So that’s one area: what is that next step [for MX/SX] and I cannot do it on my own.”

You also have your The Mind Champion coaching/education program. What is that about?
“My first project, and it will come out here soon and we have done a lot of content, interviews and filming for it. Even with Roger [De Coster]. I think it will be good for the kids in the sport in any class. For me it has been about sharing knowledge and insight and maybe some wisdom and what helped me get to the level I was. Riders are ultimately a driving force. If they are not a good spokesperson and don’t realize the position they are in then this is not helping. A lot of people are watching and it contributes to the growth of the sport.”

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Ryan Dungey (USA) 2018 © Simon Cudby

Photos: Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero | Simon Cudby


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Get2Know Red Bull KTM Factory Racing´s Jonny Walker

Jonny Walker certainly is one of the best enduro riders worldwide. The British ace currently tops the standings of the World Enduro Super Series as the next and fourth round – the Red Bull Romaniacs – is underway.

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Jonny Walker (GBR) 2018 © Marcin Kin

Marking the halfway point in this year´s series, the Red Bull Romaniacs in Romania will play a pivotal role in the race to become the Ultimate Enduro Champion. But what is needed to win a five-day hard enduro event that is regarded as the world´s toughest and to be crowned WESS champion?

We visited Jonny in Andorra to learn more about the importance of fitness training, on-bike skills and the mental attitude needed to race at the very top level of enduro …

Photo: Marcin Kin
Video: Future7Media



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Interview of the Month: Pol and Bradley’s favorites

There are plenty of just a bit too serious interviews on our MotoGPTM heroes, so instead we thought we’d keep it nice and casual. We met up with Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith in the Red Bull Hospitality to do a little quiz. The KTM duo had to guess each other’s favorites, and for every right answer they scored a point. Let’s see who came out on top!

Pol: “Ah, I’m already pretty sure Bradley’s going to be so much better at this than me.”
Bradley: “He doesn’t even know who his own favorites are. That’s Pol’s problem. Right, let’s do this. I’m ready!”
Pol: “Me too!”

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Pol Espargaró (ESP) & Bradley Smith (GBR) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite MotoGPTM Legend?
Pol: “Yes, I know this one! That has to be Randy Mamola. He helped Bradley out during his career and was inducted to the Legends Club at the Austin Grand Prix of this year. That’s a point for me; I’m sure!”
Bradley: “He’s right. I have no clue as to who would be Pol’s favorite MotoGPTM Legend, but I do remember a rider that used to mean a lot to him. That’s Alex Barros.”
Pol: “Yes, that’s a point for Brad.”
Bradley: “Though Alex isn’t officially a Legend, right?”
Pol: “He isn’t? Well, he sure should be.”
Bradley: “You know what? We are now making him a Legend here on the spot.”
Pol: “I totally agree. Alex helped me so much when I was only just starting out in racing, back when I raced in the Catalan championship. I was managed by a guy that knew Alex and he set up a meeting with him. He was so kind and he let me into his motorhome. As a little kid that meant so much. I really enjoyed him helping me back then.”
Bradley: “That was back when television was still in black and white, right?”

Pol vs Bradley: 1:1

Favorite holiday destination?
Bradley: “That’s an easy one. Pol’s is Australia. Surfing and the beach are the only things you could wake Pol up early for. Well, that and riding a MotoGPTM bike, obviously. He’ll wake up for that, too.”
Pol: “That was a bit too easy. I don’t have a clue what Bradley’s favorite holiday destination is. Malaysia maybe, with extreme temperatures and the horrid humidity. He’d love that; he has to.”
Bradley: “Hahaha … Yeah, just about right! No, I really enjoy going to America; California above all. I really like San Diego. Bit of motocross, pushbike rides, and the beach. That’s the good life.”

Pol vs Bradley: 1:2

Favorite racetrack?
Bradley: “Easy again. That is Phillip Island. Australia and that track are at the top of his list, I’m absolutely sure.”
Pol: “Oh, come one! This isn’t fair. Anyway, I guess Bradley’s would be Silverstone. Sole reason to go with that is because it’s his home track, because I really wouldn’t know …”
Bradley: “It’s Mugello, though.”
Pol: “Right, I should have known that. Another point for Brad.”

Pol vs Bradley: 1:3

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Pol Espargaró (ESP) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite movie?
Pol: “Bradley’s? That’s a given! Has to be Dirty Dancing, both part 1 and part 2.”
Bradley: “Pol is amazing, isn’t he? Guessing Pol’s favorite movie would be My Little Pony then. It just has to be.”
Pol: “Who told you that?”

Obviously neither Pol nor Bradley will be getting any point for this. The score remains 1-3.

Favorite beverage?
Bradley: Red Bull.”
Pol: “It’s incredible; how do you know all this? But then Red Bull has to be your favorite, right? High five, man! We’re really good at this. But, do you know my favorite flavor too?”
Bradley: “Err, dunno. Sugar free perhaps?”
Pol: “No way. That has to be your favorite, since you’re constantly working on your diet. It’s Silver; the lime flavored one.”

Pol vs Bradley: 2:4

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Pol Espargaró (ESP) & Bradley Smith (GBR) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite current MotoGPTM rider?
Bradley: “I’d have to go with his brother Aleix. It might not be his absolute favorite, but he just has to say he is. It’s still family, right?”
Pol: “Yes, Bradley nailed it. If it wasn’t for Aleix I would have probably said Dovizioso. Good guy all round and a fast rider too. Really nice guy, but of course my first pick would be my brother.”
Bradley: “Pol, it’s 5-2 for me now. You are going to have to start picking up the slack. Just adding a bit of pressure for you.”
Pol: “Well, another tough one. Cal Crutchlow, maybe?”
Bradley: “Nope.”
Pol: “It isn’t? Scheisse! [Shit!]”
Bradley: “I’ll give you another shot. Don’t think you’ll get it anyways.”
Pol: “Okay, so it’s someone I wouldn’t think of right away … Karel Abraham then!”
Bradley: “Wrong! It’s Danilo Petrucci. Main reason is how he made it to MotoGPTM. He got so much stick when he rode the CRT bike. But every chance he got, he took. He just keeps making strides and now he’s managed to put his signature under a works contract. At this point in his career, that deserves respect.”

Pol vs Bradley: 2:5

Favorite car?
Bradley: “Pol came in his dream car, so that’s a Lamborghini. Just no clue on what type it is. What was that again?”
Pol: “Yes, he’s right. It’s a Huracán. I know Bradley doesn’t feel much for supercars, so that isn’t worth going into. I expect he would like a nice van; something his dirtbike would fit into. He could even live and sleep in there, that’s the sort of answer I’m expecting.”
Bradley: “That’s not a bad idea, but to be fair, my dream car is a Rolls-Royce.”
Pol: “Of course, I like those too.”
Bradley: “To put it simply; I have two sides. I’m from Oxford, so I’m expected to be the gentleman. A bit posh. That’s why I like Rolls-Royces. My grandfather has one; a 1996 or 1997 model. His car still looks amazing. But yeah, then I’m also a gipsy, so living out of a van is something I’d enjoy too. So, Pol’s answer was actually half good. Can we award half points?”

Pol vs Bradley: 2.5:6

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Bradley Smith (GBR) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite animal?
Bradley: “I know that one too! A kangaroo.”
Pol: “Here we go again! Everything comes down to my love for Australia.”
Bradley: “Don’t get me wrong, but we’ve been teammates for … wow, a long time. Since 2014, I guess? You get to know a person, you know.”
Pol: “But then tell me, how come you seem to know me a lot better than I know you? You’ve never told me about your favorite animal.”
Bradley: “I don’t talk about my personal life that much, actually.”
Pol: “Do you even like animals at all? I don’t even know that. I’m going with a rabbit; shot in the dark.”
Bradley: “Nope, it’s a crocodile.”
Pol: “How was I supposed to know that? You like crocodiles; that’s crazy!”

Pol vs Bradley: 2.5:7

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Pol Espargaró (ESP) & Bradley Smith (GBR) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite sport? Amendment: no other forms of motorsport allowed.
Pol: “If that’s the case, it has to be cycling for Bradley.”
Bradley: “That’s right. For Pol I’d go with ski touring, like hiking in the mountains but on skis. He lives in Andorra, and I know he goes into the mountains there a lot during winter.”
Pol: “I’ll let him have half a point, because I really do like surfing too. The other sport, I think, is officially called Skimo.”

Pol vs Bradley: 3.5:7.5

Favorite food?
Bradley: “I’d go with pan con tomate, a typical Catalan thing.”
Pol: “Good again. I really love that. Basically, just toast you rub tomato into. Bit of oil and some cured ham to go with it. I think Bradley would go with something like a nice and big hamburger maybe? That’s what I’d pick for him if we’d be in a restaurant.”
Bradley: “It’s a typical British roast dinner. We usually eat that on a Sunday and it’s actually pretty quaint. Meat, potatoes, and greens. No points for Pol.”
Pol: “Seriously? I’m getting owned here!”

Pol vs Bradley: 3.5:8.5

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Pol Espargaró (ESP) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite motocross rider?
Bradley: “Oh my god … Best guess? Vico [former Spanish MX rider].”
Pol: “No, mine is Jorge Prado. He’s young, he’s talented, and he’s always smiling. Good kid and a Spaniard of course. Another bonus; he’s a KTM rider too. Bradley’s favorite is … “
Bradley: “We have the same complexion.”
Pol: “I know, I know. The American, right? Didn’t he race for Kawasaki?”
Bradley: “And Suzuki, and Honda too. Raced the number 4.”
Pol: “I just can’t come up with the name!”
Bradley: “It starts with Car …”
Pol: “Carmichael, yes.”
Bradley: “Okay, we’ll let Pol have half a point.”

Pol vs Bradley: 4:8.5

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Bradley Smith (GBR) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite music?
Bradley: “Pol would go with Reggaeton, I guess.”
Pol: “No way, come one. You would like Ed Sheeran. He’s English too, right?”
Bradley: “But then everyone likes Ed Sheeran.”
Pol: “And he’s orange like you too. Aren’t the two of you related?”
Bradley: “Sort of, but I’m a lousy singer. Not too many ginger guys make it, so we have to stick up for each other. Brothers for life.”
Pol: “Let’s just agree neither of us get a point here.”

Pol vs Bradley: 4:8.5

Favorite corner?
Pol: “Bradley would like a hard and very technical corner, lacking any form of grip. That’s where he shines; that’s the sort of corner he likes most.”
Bradley: “The corner everyone hates, I love. Completely counterintuitive. Take a rainy day at Misano, turn 1. That would probably be it for me.”
Pol: “It would be impossible to guess my favorite; I don’t even know what my favorite corner is!”
Bradley: “I really like nicely cambered corners, but those are becoming rare. Assen’s Stekkenwal is one.”
Pol: “Loads of grip, too. That’s one amazing corner, indeed.”
Bradley: “And the final turn at Phillip Island is the same. You turn in, the bike slightly floating, only to pick up the grip again really fast. That sensation is awesome.”
Pol: “We didn’t really score any points here, did we? But we both did have nice answers. What would you say if we both get a point, for the effort.”

The judges aren’t particularly harsh today. A mark on both scorecards. Pol vs Bradley: 5:9.5

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Pol Espargaró (ESP) KTM RC16 Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite fruit?
Pol: “I go for grapes, he eats a lot of them.”
Bradley: “I do, actually. And Pol’s favorite fruit? Let me think.”
Pol: “Don’t you dare say bananas! That would be too easy of a joke to make.”
Bradley: “No, I think he probably really likes durian.”
Pol: “Oh no, that’s that weird Malaysian fruit, right? Those things smell so bad.”
Bradley: “The smell is horrendous, I know. But they really don’t taste too bad.”
Pol: “Yeah, it’s really bad. So bad even, you’re not allowed to bring durians to your hotel.”
Bradley: “Yes, and Pol loves them.”
Pol: “No, I really don’t! I can’t come up with what they call my favorite fruit in English. [Pol gets up and gets a piece of fruit from the bowl in the Red Bull Hospitality]. This, what do you call that? A plum? Yeah, that’s right! I like those.”

Pol vs Bradley: 6:9.5

Favorite street bike?
Bradley: “That’s the Husqvarna Vitte … something Pilen.”
Pol: “It’s the new Husky, but I’ll go with the Svartpilen. That bike looks so cool. I don’t have one yet, but I’m waiting for it now.”
Bradley: “Hahaha, That’s right. I remember Pol at last year’s EICMA in Italy. He just had to have one. Of course, he’s still hoping they’ll give him one.”
Pol: “For Bradley it has to be an enduro bike of some sorts. Something like those new KTM 300cc 2-strokes.”
Bradley: “If we’re sticking to KTM built bikes, that would be the one, yes. But I’d really love me something like a café racer. KTM just doesn’t build bikes like that. The other day I saw a promo on Max Verstappen’s new bike. That thing is incredible. I think that would be my dream bike right now. It’s completely different from anything that’s come before it. You know what, I’ll let Max pay for it and then borrow it off him every once in a while.”
Pol: “Yeah, you show him how to ride it.”
Bradley: “I will!”

Pol vs Bradley: 7:10.5

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Bradley Smith (GBR) KTM RC16 Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

Favorite Marvel or DC character?
Bradley: “What’s Marvel or DC?”
Pol: “Come on, Brad. You know this!”
Bradley: “Is that with all those Spider Man kind of characters?”
Pol: “Yeah, those popular superhero movies.”
Bradley: “If that’s the case I know Pol’s favorite. Has to be Wonder Woman.”
Pol: “Bradley would pick the green one, that ugly guy. The Hulk, that’s right. But Bradley is right about Wonder Woman. I really like her.”
Bradley: “She is beautiful, isn’t she? Isn’t the actrice French? I’m pretty sure she is. I’d want her to be French. She could talk French to me all day long, even though I wouldn’t be able to understand a single word she’d say.”

Pol vs Bradley: 7:11.5

Favorite MotoGPTM battle?
Pol: “Am I even in with a shout of winning this anymore? Anyway, I have no clue. I don’t even know that for myself, my favorite MotoGPTM battle …”
Bradley: “If I remember correctly it was Assen 2015. It was a scrap for P5, so no-one saw the battle on TV, but to me it was the most epic battle ever. We were both in the group.”
Pol: “I remember that. That was a really good fight. I also remember having terrible arm pump. I just kept throwing the bike into the corner like a madman, blocking the rest, basically turning myself into some sort of riding chicane. In the end I did manage to come out on top, but the arm pump really didn’t make it any easier.”

Okay, points for you both. That makes the score 8-12.5, with Bradley leading the way. Last question is a bonus. There are two points up for grabs for both of you.

Pol: “I’ve lost already, right? But I’m going to defend my honor by getting this right. Should make the loss feel less painful.”

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Pol Espargaró (ESP) & Bradley Smith (GBR) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem

His favorite model?
Pol: “Model??? I’m going to go with Axel Pons; he’s a model now. What are you laughing about, Brad? He really is a model; I’m not kidding. Come on, tell me! Am I right? I’m not entirely certain it’s right …”
Bradley: “You’re only saying this because it’s the only model you know.”
Pol: “That’s about right.”
Bradley: “Let’s be honest, most pictures of models are photo shopped beyond recognition. So, I’m just going to go with Wonder Woman again.”
Pol: “Brad’s right. Let’s just both go with Wonder Woman.”

That round changing nothing for the final score – 
Pol vs Bradley: 8:12.5

Bradley: “Oh yeah, I’ll have that! It’s one of the few times I’ve managed to finish ahead of Pol over the last two years. This is my moment of glory … yeah!”
Pol: “But if we turn the page, I win. But okay, I’m content with this. In the end I came out second overall and that’s a podium finish regardless. I’m kind of proud of that.”

Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem


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Red Bull, KTM & MotoGP™: All in the ‘house’

Posted in Lifestyle, Racing

We visit Red Bull’s vast Holzhaus in the MotoGPTM paddock and find out about the company’s aims and desires inside MotoGPTM

Red Bull emerged in MotoGPTM through Yamaha, several key athletes, an association with HRC, event sponsorship, Rookies Cups and finally emphatic presence in every Grand Prix class with Red Bull KTM. Today the Red Bull Energy Station ‘Holzhaus’ stands both as a subtle but monolithic presence in the MotoGPTM paddock and reflects the ambition and vision of both the company and KTM’s hunger for racing prestige.

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Red Bull Energy Station © Andreas Aufschnaiter/Red Bull Content Pool

Walking into the Holzhaus is a little like entering the spacious and airy confines of a hotel. The wooded interior with strategically placed monitors, fridges and seating becomes more casual and less functional (but somehow also more exclusive) the further you rise through the three floors. A vast coffee bar greets the visitor once through the doors and past the showbike KTM.

The 16 trucks needed to ship the 788m2 Holzhaus first rolled into the paddock in 2017. The catering/entertainment/business facility quickly became a reference for how Red Bull had grown into the sport. “We’ve come a long way in MotoGPTM and I think the series has been rising year after year in terms of relevance and perception by the public and as a brand we want to be involved in the top motorsports categories,” commented a senior Red Bull spokesperson during our visit and tour. “It is a no-brainer to be involved here. We really like this environment and it is accessible for us and enjoyable to work in as a brand, and for this reason the size of our presence in this paddock has been significantly growing.”

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Red Bull Energy Station © Andreas Aufschnaiter/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull’s early biking roots were stamped hard in 2007 with the creation of the Rookies Cup; a filtering competition to Grand Prix that has already produced star talent like Johann Zarco, to name one athlete among many. The contest was backed by KTM and the Austrian link spread to Moto3 (the first title was won in 2012) and then Moto2 before completing the circle in 2017 with the KTM RC16 baptizing KTM’s intent on the premier class.

The Holzhaus is the home for this ranging alliance. “For KTM and Red Bull in the paddock this is the central hub and from 2018 we are bringing all of our entities inside,” comments our guide. “It is a great way to give our friends and partners an experience of our engagement in MotoGPTM. This space speaks for us.”

More than twenty staff appear to be permanently busy while guests eat and drink only meters away from mechanics, TV pundits and Grand Prix riders. Red Bull opened a lot of eyes in 2017 when the hospitality unit that is almost at F1 level (“I think the Formula One station is even a bit bigger but F1 teams are a bit bigger than MotoGPTM teams. I think this is two-thirds of the size.”) and requires three days to build and two to dismantle what was first erected. But it has expanded in terms of scale since. “Mainly because of the Rookies Cup,” we are told. “We used to have a second facility for them but as a matter of efficiency we brought them in here. When you consider we are feeding between 4-500 people each mealtime in different stages then it gives you an idea for the size of the operation and also puts it into perspective because it is a big building but when you consider the amount of people then it serves a good purpose.”

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Red Bull Energy Station © Andreas Aufschnaiter/Red Bull Content Pool

We’re served a coffee and shown the rooftop terrace that again gives the Holzhaus that spotless and desirable ‘hotel’ feeling. There is a hint of luxury, the feeling of canteen downstairs and the sense that this is a sizeable pocket away from the oil, noise and engineering of the race bikes. Our hosts are quick to stress the versatility of the location. “I think you can see from the style and the layout that it is a multi-functional place for us in the paddock. We’ve hosted presentations, a team launch and more events in conjunction with [MotoGPTM rights holders] Dorna. There are many ways we can use it and KTM run media debriefs and we have big screens and multimedia. Our staff is also used to quickly changing the configuration as well.”

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Red Bull Energy Station © Andreas Aufschnaiter/Red Bull Content Pool

Rumors circulated in the paddock of the millions needed to create and run the Holzhaus. It was therefore irresistible (if predictably futile!) to ask about a ballpark figure to make it all happen. “It is an investment!” is as close as we get. “Purely through the sheer size of it but also the quality we are trying to bring. What is important is that our product – the Red Bull energy drink – is something we use a lot on the premises and is part of the gastronomy occasions; and this is a gastronomy outlet and a pretty nice looking one! We try to make our products fit here; we are a premium product so we try to make the surroundings fit as well in a similar style and manner, that’s why we pay a lot of attention to the details and the setup.”

Hiking the Holzhaus to at least ten of the nineteen MotoGPTM events in 2018 is no easy (or cheap) task. Is there a risk that it might not pay off in the short term? We’re met with a serious look. “Of course, if you build a facility like this then it is not just for one year so the plan is to use it for many years,” we’re informed. “For us it has been made as the home for Red Bull KTM but also for Red Bull and our guests. We are planning for the long-term and also developing it year-after-year. We are trying to maximize the facility and the space we get in the paddock from IRTA.” Wow, it might get even larger then. It already has a detachable terrace in some of the larger circuit areas.

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Red Bull KTM MotoGP Team Barcelona (ESP) 2018 © Markus Berger

Importantly for bike racing the unit is a symbol for how a major lifestyle company wants to continue to support and back the sport. The Holzhaus might not appear in other motorcycle paddocks but it’s a statement for how Red Bull view two-wheeled competition across the board and for their synergy with KTM. “MotoGPTM has been expanding quite a lot in terms of viewership over the last few years. Motocross and Supercross in the States as well are both healthy sports. We are present in all the key motorcycling categories like MXGP with Red Bull KTM, Rally and Supercross. We try to find the strategy to be competitive in those series, especially because our competitors are very involved, particularly with the offroad side and they are very active with series sponsorships. So, we try to find our positions there and the relationship with KTM helps a lot and we have been winning many championships over the years.”

As we descend the stairs and given a friendly farewell it’s not difficult to understand just how and why Red Bull KTM are rapidly progressing to the front of the Grand Prix grids.

Photos: Andreas Aufschnaiter/Red Bull Content Pool | Markus Berger


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

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

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Chris Birch (NZL) © A. Barbanti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chris Birch (NZL) © C. Wood

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

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

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

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

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

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KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R © M. Chytka

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

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

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

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

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KTM 1090 ADVENTURE R © M. Chytka

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

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


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Drifting

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Drifting

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

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© www.kurtpinter.com

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

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

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

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

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© www.kurtpinter.com

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

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

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© www.kurtpinter.com

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

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

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

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

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© www.kurtpinter.com

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

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

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

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© www.kurtpinter.com

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

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

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

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


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The adventure never ends

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

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© C. Wood

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

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

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

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© C. Wood

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

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

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

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© C. Wood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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© C. Wood

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

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

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

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

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© A. Barbanti

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

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

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© A. Barbanti

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


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5 mins to talk the future of KTM motocross bikes

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

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

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Joachim Sauer (GER) © Sebas Romero/Marco Campelli

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

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

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© Sebas Romero/Marco Campelli

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

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

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

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

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KTM 450 SX-F © R.Schedl/KTM

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

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

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

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KTM 450 SX-F © R.Schedl/KTM

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

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


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3D printing: the future of motorcycle construction?

Posted in Bikes, Riding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Idea 3D design © KTM

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

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

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3D printer (plastic) © KTM

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

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

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

Photos: Sebas Romero | Marco Campelli | KTM


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Ray Archer


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KTM 790 DUKE: A mountain to climb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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KTM 790 DUKE © Bryan Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos: Brapp Snapps Media | Bryan Mills
Video: KTM


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Malagrotta: The house of Cairoli

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

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

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Malagrotta (ITA) © Marco Campelli/Sebas Romero

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

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

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Ryan Dungey (USA) © Marco Campelli/Sebas Romero

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

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

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

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

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Tony Cairoli (ITA) © Ray Archer

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

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

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

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


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Ultimate Race: The KTM ADVENTURE RALLY challenge awaits

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

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KTM 790 ADVENTURE R Prototype © Marcin Kin

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

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

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

And of course, check out these cool images.

KTM 790 ADVENTURE R Prototype © Marcin Kin

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



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