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Interview of the Month: Toby Price – 2019 Dakar Rally Winner

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Dementor

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Interview of the Month: Toby Price – 2019 Dakar Rally Winner

2019 Dakar Rally Winner and 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion! The last three months have seen Toby Price reaffirm himself as the world’s number one rally racer. And in unquestionably impressive style. Battling his way through the world’s toughest cross-country rally with a broken wrist, with the full support of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Price earned his second Dakar victory having overcome injury and 10 brutal days of racing in Peru.

The KTM BLOG caught up with Toby just days after his incredible Dakar achievement to find out exactly how he braved the pain to win the iconic Dakar Rally.

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Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin

Toby, the first goal of the Dakar Rally is always to simply finish, especially when carrying an injury. What did you really hope for when you arrived in Peru before the event?
“I’m a racer and racers will always want to win the race. I have to be honest though, when I boarded the plane in Australia, I was starting to think that it wasn’t a good idea – I knew my wrist hadn’t healed fully but I wanted to at least make the start if only for my fans’ and the team’s sake. As the event went on, things started to turn our way, my wrist didn’t get any better but we found ourselves in a good position with some of the other riders having issues. Each day presented a good opportunity and there was no way I was going to give it up.”

This year’s event was very close, with competitor’s stage times up and down throughout the rally. Do you think the 2019 Dakar has been one of the toughest yet, in terms of strategy?
“Definitely, and it comes from having the majority of the stages in the sand dunes. The guy who starts first is always going to be at a massive disadvantage by opening the stage. As it happened, I didn’t even win a stage until the very last one. Riding consistently paid off and I didn’t have to take the lead on any of the specials. One of my biggest worries was pushing too hard and risking a crash. I knew if I went down hard on my wrist it would be the end of my rally. Unfortunately, I did have quite a big off on day eight – it rattled me pretty good that one, but luckily I was able to roll out of it and keep going.”

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Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin

The 2019 event was often more about start position and being able to push the tracks left by the riders in front. Do you think the rally should slow its pace and rely more on skilled navigation than it did this year?
“It’s quite a difficult situation because everyone has picked up their pace, but they’ve also improved their navigation. We are all pushing out there as the competition is getting tighter and tighter and unless they bring in some new rules to calm things down, I don’t think that is going to change. The sport has evolved now and the riders are often younger and more willing to risk everything for the win. That, combined with the improvement to the bikes, means the overall pace is a lot higher now. As long as there are riders willing to push to the maximum, the speeds on the rally will remain high and in order to compete, we have to do the same.”

At only 10 days long and just over 5,000 kilometers, the race covered half the distance of last year’s event. Did this help you achieve your goal?
“Massively! Although a 5,000-kilometer rally here in the dunes of Peru feels like an 8,000-kilometer rally anywhere else. The terrain and the conditions have been tough and it certainly wasn’t easy out there. The length at only 10 day has probably helped the most, the way I was riding, it’s unlikely my wrist would have put up with another three or four days flat out. They do say one kilometer in the dunes is about that same as two or three offroad.”

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Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin

At what point in the rally did you think, ‘I can win this’?
“Basically, the same place as my first win a few years ago – about 100 meters from the finish line. You can never count your chickens before they hatch, the Dakar is a strong beast and it can pull you down very quickly. You only have to look at Pablo to see how fast things can change. Each day I just tried to stay in the race and in contention and was able to get it done.”

You were always consistent throughout the race, was that part of the plan from day one or was your hand forced by injury or strategy?
“It was a bit of both. I knew from the beginning that my wrist wasn’t going to be strong enough for outright speed on a lot of the stages. My plan was to find a good rhythm and try to stay inside the top 10 as best I could. As time went on, we could see that it was all working out but as you know, we went into the final day with only a narrow lead, so it stayed close the whole way through.”

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Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin

What have you learned from this Dakar in particular?
“I have certainly learned a lot about myself on this rally, and obviously never to quit – never to give up. Strategy-wise, it’s kind of the same, consistency is key but even when you have a bad day you need to keep on going because anything can happen at the Dakar. Take the rough with the smooth but make sure you are in the right place and in the end it will work.”

With three winners in the team, do the egos clash at all, are you all extremely competitive?
“Oh, for sure, absolutely. They’re going to have to get a bigger door on the truck now so that I can get my head through! No, for the three of us who have had the honor to win the Dakar Rally, it’s good to have a certain amount of competition between teammates. It feels great to keep KTM’s winning streak going, that is really important to me and the other guys. I think first and foremost we are a team, but at the end of the race I want it to be me that’s holding the winner’s trophy.”

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Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin

What was the pressure like on the final day?
“I never want to feel anything like that pressure ever again. I wish going into the final day I had a 10-minute lead, it would have been so much better. Pablo put up a great fight but of course he had that crash and it made my life a little easier, but I still had to make it to the finish line. Pablo crashed at 10 kilometers and after that I still had 95 kilometers to go. It certainly wasn’t an easy stage and like I said, you can never truly relax until you have crossed that line.”

And on crossing that line, how did it feel to win?
“It’s a feeling like no other. I thought after winning my first one, the second wouldn’t be so much of a big deal, but it’s not like that at all. It sounds like a cliché, but it honestly feels like a dream. I woke up the morning after the final day and I was ready for someone to come and tell me it was the first day of the race and I had to get up and get ready.”

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Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin

How does it feel to do the double – World and Dakar champion, back to back?
“Wow. You know I never even thought about it. To get my first world title and then the Dakar title just months later is amazing. You get so caught up with what is coming next a lot of the time you don’t get a chance for these things to sink in. I can’t take all the credit though, rallying is truly a team sport and none of it would be possible without the KTM family I have around me. Handing KTM that 18th Dakar win is hugely important to me.”

How does it feel to have lost your hair?
“It’s extremely cold now. I can certainly feel the wind on the top of my head that’s for sure. I look in the mirror and it looks very, very different. It’s done though, and there was no way I was going to try and get out of it. When you make a bet, you have to stick to it, you have to stick to your word.”

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Laia Sanz (ESP) & Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin

It looked emotionally painful when you were having it done.
“It was, exactly. It’s taken years to grow my hair out like that. Sam and I started it off and other than racing dirt bikes it’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had!”

Now the celebrations have died down, how will you spend the next few weeks?
“What do you mean the celebrations have died down? There is plenty of celebrating left to do! No, I’ll spend some time at home now and one of the first things I need to do is have my wrist looked at to see how it has handled two tough weeks in Peru. The world championship will start before we know it and I want to be ready and as fit as I can be to defend my title. I’ll take some time to let all of this sink in, but I’ll soon want to get out there riding again.”

Thanks Toby, and once again congratulations on your second Dakar rally win.

Photos: Marcin Kin


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      Jenny Anderson: For me I guess there are two parts: there is the bit at home – which is preparation for the event and the analysis after the event – and then there’s the work around data at the track itself. Leading up to a GP I will look at data from previous days at a circuit and I’ll try and prepare a base. I am the link between the engine and the rider. If you gave the rider just a cable from his hand to the engine then it would be hard to handle because there is so much power in these bikes. So I tweak the torque levels corner-by-corner, the traction control, the wheelie control and the engine braking to make it easier for him to ride and for better performance. I do all of this as a base before we arrive to a GP and then I work with Pol during a session and he will say “I need more,” I need less” and we tune as we go along.
      Andrea Cantó: I do the tire analysis for all four KTM riders. I talk to the Crew Chiefs and they tell me the plan they have for the tires for the day and then they supply me with the comments from the riders. We try to analyze the data to see if everything is in line and then make a plan for the next day and eventually for Sunday. The target is to figure out which tire will be the best for the race because some will have a very high performance in the beginning but then drop a lot faster, some have less performance but more consistency. It is about trying to find the one for each racetrack. I’ve worked for nine seasons in racing and was a long time inMoto2™; there it was simpler and we only had two specs of tire instead of three. I was a data engineer then so doing analysis in general and not only on tires.
      Beatriz Garcia: I have responsibilities at the circuit and I am always working because I am ahead of everybody and also focussing on the next events. When I’m here in the paddock we travel Tuesday and set-up everything on Wednesday so everybody can work. Then I start with organization of the paddock passes for guests and sponsors. I’m booking all the flights and hotels and moving everybody from one place to another. Usually it is around 50 people and sometimes the WP guys and Moto3™ because I am the connection with the factory. Then things like hiring grid girls. It is more the human side of the racing team; anything away from the spares, parts and bikes I take care of.
      Jenny: The electronics department is quite a broad range of people. Each rider will have a strategy person and then there is someone who is the overall manager and will be the link between us as well as giving help and advice with our job. We also have people working on the electronic hardware and doing the tools. The cause of any difficulty for the rider is not just electronics because they work with the chassis and also the suspension. But if there is a problem that can be fixed by electronics then they will be looking right at you.
      Andrea: It was a big change for me moving from that Moto2™ role. At the beginning I wondered ‘do you really need one person to analyze tires?’ but I don’t get bored or have time to get bored! It’s worth having that person. It might not change the result but it makes the Crew Chief’s job easier. What I have learned this year is that you get a general perspective of what is happening on the four bikes but not really the specifics of any single one; it is a bit of a different picture.
      Beatriz: The professionalism of a factory team compared to a Moto3™ team – where I worked before and you are always trying to stretch a euro to the maximum – is huge and I was scared in the beginning about how big the job would be. Also it was all-new. I set up my own system – like my colleagues – but it turned out to be very easy because everyone is so professional and experienced. It’s easy to work with these guys. Obviously there are still fires to put out, but people can focus on entirely on their jobs and if there is any other kind of problem then I will solve it.
       
      Beatriz Garcia @SebasRomero
      So how did you reach the confines of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing?
      Andrea: I wanted to work in MotoGP™. I wanted to be able to learn new stuff. I approached the team to ask if they needed anyone and they were full but I ended up being lucky because they had the budget for one more person.
      Jenny: I joined the project in 2015, before we had a MotoGP™ bike, and from working in the factory full-time and the electronics department. I have seen the RC16 go from zero to where we are now. I had quite an open role. My manager said “here’s the ECU for the bike we are going to build in the next six months, get something ready so it can run”. So it was a bit of everything, working with the guys on the engine on the dyno, connecting sensors, making test harnesses: it was much more hands-on at that time. Then we started testing with Mika and I was the data engineer for the test team, I then did a year in that same job for Pol and now I’m the strategy engineer for Pol.
      Beatriz: My first GP year was 2011 and my previous team used to buy the Moto3™ bikes from KTM so I had a lot of dealings with them and liked the way they worked. In 2016 I met Mike [Leitner, Team Manager] at the Catalan GP, and in September I had confirmation and started in October.
      Andrea: The first three or four months I had a full overload of information. There were so many new things. You try to ‘push them in’ but there is no space! It slowly starts to sink in and I still don’t know half of the things that are possible with these bikes. The good thing about being here is that you can see and feel the development. Everybody is doing something that has almost started from zero. In another place I think you would just be handed an established platform with less room to grow.
       
      Andrea Cantó @SebasRomero
      It must be tough for anybody to break into this world and work in this paddock…
      Andrea: I went to college and then did the Monlau engineering school [famous institution in Spain]. I’m sorry to say but I think there is a big percentage of luck, especially when you don’t know anyone in the paddock. That was my case. What happened was that one week before an IRTA test somebody dropped out of a team and they could not find a replacement at that stage because everyone else with experience was taken. So they took the risk in giving a job to a newcomer. I think the teachers at Monlau recommended me and I got lucky. There are more and more motorcycling engineering course available now and post-graduate courses.
      Jenny: I grew up in motor racing. My Dad built kit-cars and my older brother got into karting. He was like a god to me and everything he did I wanted to do. At ten I started karting and started doing data almost as a hobby; I never realized it could lead into a job like I have now. I went from having one sensor to measure the RPM on my kart to looking at the gears and analyzing speed on different corner exits. It evolved as I added more sensors and got more information. I volunteered and did work for other people with data. When I left college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and ended up going to university quite late; I was 22 when I went to study motorsport engineering at Oxford Brookes University. I was working at a car racing team in F3 at the same time and the World Series by Renault. I worked with Kevin Magnussen in my first year actually. I then worked with them full time until this project came up with KTM.
      Beatriz: Contacts are everything. You need them in this world. You can be very good but if nobody knows you then you won’t get the chance to start. My nationality helped because I was able to start in the Spanish championship, that has a good profile. For the MotoGP™ class it is even harder because you need experience and other people in the paddock will ask about you.
      Andrea: In the end it is a high percentage of people coming back every year and rotating around the paddock. Even for me it was not easy to find a job in the MotoGP™ class. I knew others in Moto2™ because you have people with the same schedule. When other bikes are running you don’t pay attention and you miss the window to network. Talking about the job then I think you can learn different roles. If you have good knowledge then I think you can learn to do other stuff.
       
      Jenny Anderson @SebasRomero
      What’s the sacrifice?
      Beatriz: Everybody has their needs in this big group. I try to get to know everybody a little bit just to know preferences, interests, who has family and so on. It sounds stupid but the travelling is part of the job that is tiring and time-consuming. I cannot do much about a cancelled flight but I will try to do what I can to make sure people are happy getting to their job.
      Andrea: I think it is a kind of lifestyle where if you cross a mark then you don’t know how to do anything else, or to have a normal 9-5. I wouldn’t like to cross that point but it is difficult to know! You get so used to it, and even when we have built the garage then your place to work is always the same. It is a strange lifestyle. For people that stop working here then I think it is because the travelling finally ‘got’ to them. For the moment I am OK. I don’t mind the travelling but I know if I want to have a family then it will be difficult and I think for most of the women that left the paddock then this was the reason. I think, in some ways, we can be very equal with gender in this world but there is not much we can do about physical differences!
      Jenny: It’s not really a job: it’s a life choice. I’ve always spent a lot of weekends at a racetrack because it’s what I love to do. My friends don’t really understand what my job is and how many hours we work. People assume we turn up on a Friday, work a couple of 45 minute sessions and then we leave. Many don’t realize how much goes into it, and not just from us but also at the factory. People are working long hours all the time to achieve what we achieve. There is not a lot of downtime!
      Beatriz: When I talk about my job then a lot of people don’t know much about bikes. They tend to think I am just travelling around and visiting all these places. Other people who know about racing think it is very exciting and they are quite surprised sometimes. Nobody really knows what it is like behind the scenes.
       
      @SebasRomero
      What’s it like being part of this multi-national and eclectic race team?
      Andrea: I think with this job you also get to appreciate that there are good and bad points about everybody and every nationality. The Spanish are supposed to be lazy, the Italians are supposed to be cocky, the Austrians are supposed to be super-scheduled and you kind of appreciate that there is a truth to these thoughts but also there isn’t at all I like working with people from everywhere.
      Jenny: Often we spent sixteen hours a day for three days in a row with the same people. It’s important to be able to get-on. It is a hard job anyway but if we didn’t have this family atmosphere then it would be tougher. Away from the track we are a good group and we socialize a lot. There is a lot of camaraderie. It’s a big part of the job; when you get chosen then it is as much for how well you’ll fit into the team as for what or how much you know. You need positive and motivated people.
      Beatriz: I love it actually. You get to know different cultures and you can see how different we all are. There are stereotypes…and generally they are true!
      Andrea: My mum made me take English lessons from when I was eight! Normally the people here who know another languages then don’t have too much difficulty to pick up another one; it’s incredible actually. Franco Morbidelli can speak anything and Miguel [Oliveira] speaks Spanish, English, Italian and French: where does it all come from?! I’m super-jealous.
      Beatriz: I never found any bad attitudes or reactions to me. I think you need to be quite open to fit into a team and people will respect you, especially if you can do a good job.
      Jenny: From my experience in cars, drivers often bring the money for a single-seater one-make series spot and it gives them a lot of clout about whom they want to work with. They might not want to work with a woman or it’s because your face doesn’t fit or you are English, Spanish or French. Here or anywhere I don’t think gender really comes into it much any more or no more than any other sport. When I was karting I’d be the only girl in a paddock of two hundred people and I have seen – just in my lifetime – how many more women are now working in motorsport both as drivers or engineering and that can only be positive.

      Images: Sebas Romero, KTM
    • De Dementor
      FOCUS ON AKRAPOVIČ: THE BRAINS BEHIND THE BRAWN
      It’s no secret that synergy has helped KTM and Akrapovič grow from strength to strength across their over 20-year relationship working together to deliver the best products not just for KTM Factory Racing teams, but for every rider too. KTM Blog takes a closer look into the past, present and future of this solid partnership.
      @Sebas Romero
      Some quick facts: 130 world titles, 76 achieved with KTM, 9 Red Dot awards for design accrued over 28 years of operation. Founded by an ex-racer who used his passion for motorsport to develop market leading hardware in terms of both quality and performance and a name synonymous with the best. This can only be one company: Akrapovič.
      To see how the great achievements celebrated in the top tiers of motorcycle racing filter down to the products available to the grass roots racer, KTM Blog talks with some of the brains behind the brawn of Akrapovič, Head of Racing R&D, Alojz “Slavko” Trstenjak.
      Slavko Trstenjak @Akrapovič
      Slavko has been working alongside Igor Akrapovič since the infancy of the market leading manufacturer, with his own responsibilities, experience and book of stories growing along with the company and its now 1200 plus strong team.
      “I started working full-time for Akrapovič at the beginning of 1993, but I’d already been working with the company a few months before that. At the beginning I worked as a mechanic, as an engine builder, because at that time the company specialized in motorcycle tuning, and it was later that it specialized in exhaust systems. During the first years we were all multitasking, we were involved in several areas, which was necessary because there were very few of us at the company, less than ten. After that I focused on work with Igor Akrapovič on the dyno as a tester, looking for and defining new exhaust configurations. I did that for almost ten years. After that I took over leadership of the still relatively small R&D department – and in a few years it expanded to over 40 engineers in the department. Later I shifted to managing the Racing R&D department for developing racing exhausts for all kinds of motorcycles.”
      Joel Smets (2003) @KTM
      During this time the Slovenian company has celebrated a staggering number of victories across a wide array of disciplines, when asked Slavko proudly recalled some of his personal highlights:
      “An unforgettable milestone for sure was our first world champion using an Akrapovič exhaust – Colin Edwards on a Honda in the WorldSBK series. This title was won after almost ten years of hard development work and visiting countless WorldSBK races and the German championship. Before this, there was an important achievement a year earlier, when we partnered with all the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in WorldSBK. All the Japanese factory teams and Aprilia relied on our know-how and our achievements. Personally, as a big offroad enthusiast, I was very satisfied when I was also able to help the company start developing exhausts for Offroad motorcycles, and we saw our first successes with these pretty quickly, including the first world champion title on motocross with KTM and Joël Smets, and we also celebrated success in the Dakar Rally with a two-cylinder KTM.”
      The special relationship between KTM and Akrapovič ensures the highest levels of quality and a seamless fit.
      Thierry Van Den Bosch (2004) @KTM
      “From the very beginning, cooperation between KTM and Akrapovič was based on exchanging information in the early phase of development while seeking the best solutions together. Over the years of cooperation, we had a big impact on the design trend of exhaust systems on production bikes manufactured by KTM, especially in the offroad segment. Our engineers are usually already involved in the early phase of designing the motorcycle itself and in preproduction bikes, where we usually prepare prototypes for KTM’s basic testing; these are essential for developing other components of the bike in the development phase. This work method especially applies to certain motorsport categories like MotoGP™, where developing the exhaust system takes place at the same time as developing the other components, and toward the end all the components are fused into a complete whole. These days all the parts can be developed in a 3D model, and then the 3D models are exchanged among the engineers. The work takes place simultaneously.”
      There are some differences in the design process for production bikes compared to those intended for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teams. This is mostly due to timing as new designs are developed in racing first, and then there are some other factors to consider. Slavko explained further for us:
      “If we’re talking about bikes that are intended exclusively for racing, we usually develop their exhaust systems before our exhausts used for production motorcycles. When we’re talking about the general production bikes sold by KTM, the Racing R&D department doesn’t have anything to do with that; they’re developed separately, between KTM and Akrapovič’s R&D department. Here engineers already closely cooperate in the development phase and with the first prototypes, which determine the development guidelines based on the demands that define today’s development of exhaust systems, such as shapes and environmental requirements regarding emissions and noise restrictions.”
      Fabrizio Meoni (2004) @KTM
      “For racing exhausts, I can confirm that the shape is developed exclusively in our Racing R&D department, and we provide the guidelines. For exhaust systems installed on production bikes like the Adventure segment and all others, as far as the shape is concerned, KTM designers are also involved. We follow the principle “form follows function” and we work so that the exhaust systems are made to be used, for which we have lots of feedback and invaluable experience from close cooperation with the factory racing teams that use our exhaust systems.”
      Although Slavko is not overseeing the work carried out for production bikes, this does not mean that the hard work of his team does not greatly influence the design of the product.
      “We absolutely use the knowledge and experience from the Racing department for production bikes. Looking at offroad bikes, it’s an advantage to the end-users that they receive an exhaust system that’s virtually identical to the one the KTM factory teams are racing with – for example, what Cairoli, Herlings, Prado, and others are using. Most times there are minimal changes because of certain components required by layout, but regarding performance, weight, and other characteristics we try to retain the characteristics as much as possible from the racing environment to the production exhaust. With the exhaust systems for enduro and extreme enduro, it’s a nearly identical system”
      Antonio Cairoli (2012) @KTM
      Each racing environment demands different specifications in order to meet the needs of the rider, and ultimately win. Thanks to their broad team of engineers and scientists Akrapovič can control all factors of the design of the exhaust. Using an in-house metallurgical laboratory, they can even predetermine the titanium’s properties before being formed, ensuring the perfect finish. Slavko went on to explain some of the differences that can be seen between disciplines:
      “The finish itself involves an added value that’s been present since the very beginnings of the Akrapovič company. With a lot of exhaust systems, we further increased their durability through the use of custom materials; for example, Rally is the only motorcycle series in which we use special 1.2 mm thick titanium, and not tubes with the usual 0.9 mm thickness. We know that Rally is a very long race where the exhaust has to survive the entire race for amateur racers – an unforgiving two-week torture test. This is why the choice of material and optimizing it is really important. In MotoGP™, for example, there’s a big emphasis on weight, but this isn’t the main reason we use 0.65 mm thick tubes. At the same time, we have to make sure that the material can withstand the high temperatures, stresses, and pressures that are created in the exhaust system, and so we dedicate great attention to the choice of material and constant checks. All of this already takes place in the very selection of the material supplier.”
      “The Akrapovič brand is known for its race-proven products; it was born in races that we know demand performance, light weight, great sound, drivability, throttle response, and other characteristics. For a product to achieve this, you have to give it your all and pay attention to every detail, to every gram, to every mounting element.”
      Brad Binder (2016) @FocusPollution
      If you stop to ask any motorcyclist about what makes Akrapovič stand out, then quality and this precise attention to detail will come up. The vast majority will answer with the distinctive sound.
      “Considering all the different categories of motorsport that exist today, it’s clear that we can’t ensure the characteristic Akrapovič sound for each and every one of them – but it’s true that we strive to make that sound a pleasure sound as much as possible. It’s impossible to compare the sounds of so many different championships – say, from enduro to MotoGP™. Oftentimes the configuration determines the sound produced by these instruments, but we make great efforts to tune them well, so they produce the very best sound for both the rider and the environment.”
      After creating various designs, simulating models and manufacturing prototypes comes the real testing. Even in an age of advanced computer technologies and accurate simulations, Akrapovič follow an intense program of both dyno runs and real-world testing as ultimately the success of the product on track is directly related to riders’ preferences.
      Pol Espargaro (2018) @Sebas Romero
      “In the offroad segment we make use of testing on the motocross track near the company, and we also carry out a lot of testing on it with racers and teams. We also take part in factory team tests held at various locations, usually in Italy and Belgium, where they’re held in the winter. There we make the “final touch” and choose the configuration. The dyno is only a tool for making measurements and obtaining results, but the dyno itself doesn’t decide which configuration is the best. Here, as developers and engineers, we have to make a preselection, and we leave the final choice to the racing riders. Our philosophy is that the end user has to be satisfied. If the rider isn’t satisfied with the character of the power, with the responsiveness of the engine, then – regardless of the results that can be measured on the dyno – we haven’t achieved our goal. Conceptually, the development of an exhaust system begins on the drawing board or at the computer and with creating a prototype. This is followed by comparative testing on the dyno, and after that even more testing. These tests are often carried out by our test riders, and after them the factory racers do the final testing. In this way we can evaluate our feedback on the configurations, see if we’re working in the right direction, and whether the feedback result is relevant or not.”
      “Each exhaust is unique, a development story in itself; we don’t have universal exhaust systems. Each exhaust is made for a very specific kind of motorcycle, developed to optimize its power, reduce its weight, and satisfy any type-approval requirements that apply to that kind of system.”
      Nathan Watson (2019) @Future7Media
      And there’s no resting on their laurels either! Constant development and product evolution go on year on year, with new products released as they maintain their position as the world’s premier exhaust manufacturer. This can be seen in the release of an all new look for the KTM ENDURO MY20 range.
      “A new shape is a new beginning for the EXC family era. We’ve been working on the most stress-laden parts of the exhaust system, weak points, and research directions to improve the current exhaust and optimize it. This is why we moved to the “relief profile” of the exterior sleeve, which ensures greater durability, better scratch resistance, and more resilience to the impacts and damage that can be expected in enduro use every day. The development goal is to preserve the maximum volume in a limited space along with ensuring the lowest sound level friendly to the environment.”
      @Akrapovič
      To round things up we asked Slavko to summarize what he thinks is the number one benefit of an Akrapovič exhaust is to a KTM rider, regardless of their level of riding:
      “The biggest benefit to end customers is that when they use our exhaust systems, they really get identical materials and solutions, and often also the identical exhaust system configuration that we create for factory bikes. End users buy what we produce for world champions, regardless of whether they’re racers or recreational riders. The end user gets a product that’s the result of working together with factory teams. This is really important to me.”
      Images: KTM, Akrapovič
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