Posted in People, Racing The Spanish star ends a special four-year arc with Red Bull KTM and after helping the MotoGP project move from the back to the front of the grid. Here’s some of the story…
Pol Espargaro giving full corner commitment on the KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhotoIn 2016 KTM signed former Moto2™ World Champion Pol Espargaro to complete their first Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team line-up for a maiden MotoGP season in 2017.
Pol has been with the KTM RC16 development from early on in the project – here he is testing ahead of KTM’s first full MotoGP race season in 2017
PC @GoldAndGooseThe Spaniard had claimed 6th place in his debut year but had since stalled in his development and was looking for a fresh challenge and full ‘works’ backing for 2017.
Pol took KTM’s first MotoGP podium in Valencia, Spain 2018
PC @SebasRomeroHe tested the new RC16 for the first time at the end of 2016 and then finished 16th and just out of the points in Qatar for his debut in ‘orange’ for the opening event of the ’17 campaign.
The first podium was a very special milestone for Pol and the team
PC @SebasRomero“We always want more and more but it’s the first race and we need to know what is our position, and where we are right now,” he said at the time. “We need to understand that the 33 seconds [off the lead time] we were today is good.”
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team celebrates KTM’s first MotoGP podium in 2018
PC @SebasRomeroPol’s commitment, character and amiability helped drive the programe from that point. He had five different teammates at various stages up until his final event for KTM at Portugal recently.
Pol always gave the maximum and was pivotal in the development of the KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhotoHe mixed milestone and injury but was always a reliable factor: his sheer effort was a strong platform on which KTM based their RC16 race evolution. No matter what experiment, theory or new part the technicians at the factory wanted to try they always knew they’d get maximum application from #44.
With five podium finishes in 2020 Pol finished fifth in the championship
PC @PolarityPhotoBy Brno and the Czech Republic – round ten of 2017 – Espargaro had clocked KTM’s first top ten finish. At the final event of 2018 he took the RC16 to 3rd place and that landmark podium in damp conditions in Valencia.
Pol Espargaro at the final race of 2020 – the KTM RC16 is now a true contender in the premier class
PC @PolarityPhotoHis first trophy in the premier class was actually the most special recollection of the four years – and his career – for Pol; it came half a year after his scary crash and back injury at testing in Malaysia.
Pol Espargaro and KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer
PC @PolarityPhoto“I came back after one of the hardest injuries I ever had,” he reflected in Portimao last week. “It was not only the best moment of the project but of my whole career. For sure to be world champion was great but when you feel you are ‘destroyed’ and you will not go back on the bike – or when you do you have this fear that you will never be fast again – to make the podium in Valencia meant the feeling was indescribable. Something crazy.”
Pol Espargaro at Le Mans, France in 2020
PC @PolarityPhotoFront row qualification positions, first Pole Positions and five podiums in 2020 led up to 5th place in the world championship standings, tied on points with 4th. Pol propelled Red Bull KTM from rookie learners to the 3rd best team on the MotoGP grid and with a fantastic path of opportunity ahead. The RC16 became a Grand Prix winner in 2020.
Pol celebrates his Le Mans, France podium
PC @PolarityPhotoHe now joins another brand for 2021. “When he joined our project he had finished 6th with another brand and the goal was always to help him be better,” says Red Bull KTM Race Manager Mike Leitner. “I think he has had a good four years and we wish him all the best for the future.”
The Red Bull Ring in Austria is the home GP for KTM
PC @PolarityPhotoEspargaro’s approachability and professionalism rubbed off on the whole structure. “Pol’s been a great reference for me this year,” said 2020 Rookie of the Year and Pol’s final teammate Brad Binder. “He has been super-fast at every track. It’s always awesome to see his data too. Honestly, I really enjoyed being his teammate. He’s a cool guy and he makes life in the box a pleasure. I’ll miss having him around.”
Pol celebrates clinching pole position in Styria, Austria
PC @PolarityPhoto“I feel proud of what we have achieved as a factory and of what I have done as a rider,” says the man himself. “All I can do is say thanks for what we’ve done together. It has been tough at moments but all the people around me and the whole crew in the pitbox helped me to smile every day. They gave me the confidence and the love to be who I am.”
Pol Espargaro leans in the KTM RC16
PC @PolarityPhotoCrucially he summed up his legacy as part of KTM’s narrative with a simple comment at Jerez and the first Grand Prix of 2020 when he was already circulating with similar lap-times to the leaders: “Now, we are on the level of the others.”
Espargaro switches bikes in pit lane
PC @PolarityPhotoEspargaro’s time with KTM has come to an end – the team celebrates a successful partnership over the last four years
Posted in People, Racing Travelling the planet and working with some of the most insanely talented racers to chase world championship glory is a career many would dream of; but just what does it take to become a mechanic for a rider like Jeffrey Herlings or recently crowned FIM MX2 Motocross World Champion Tom Vialle? For the second of two parts to this blog, we caught up with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Wayne Banks and Harry Norton, who both have moved halfway around the globe for their jobs as factory mechanics …
Wayne Banks – mechanic for Jeffrey Herlings
PC @RayArcherWayne Banks – Mechanic for Jeffrey Herlings, 35 years old.
Australian Wayne Banks entered Red Bull KTM after working for the satellite Hitachi KTM team and a smaller structure. He began in Grand Prix in 2009 and has been part of the factory crew since 2012. He’s currently the only mechanic in the group to win titles with two different riders (Jordi Tixier in 2014 and Jeffrey Herlings). For Wayne the path began locally. “I was an apprentice at a bike shop at home. My service manager was a racer beforehand and knew people as part of the scene. It was just luck and timing that I went for the interview and got a job,” he explains. “I personally believe it is better to come from the practical side of things and having done the hard work and gained that experience. Although I can appreciate people who have studied and taken the time to get theory under their belt as well.”
Banks works on Herlings’ bike
PC @RayArcherIt’s a long way from Australia to the European hub of Red Bull KTM’s Austrian workshop and the Belgium-based extension. The FIM World Championship is also largely European centered. Banks was able to make the continental hop thanks to his amiable character and the contacts he’d made as a result. “There was an Australian mechanic in Europe working for another Grand Prix team and there was a job opportunity. I flew over and needed to settle in the first month because I had never been overseas before!”
“The people that you know are crucial and it means that you can find out where and when opportunities will come up,” he adds. “When you get to factory level then usually it is a small group and you have to wait for a gap to appear and then decide if it is the best move for you. Some teams change mechanics quite frequently whereas others really take atmosphere, personalities and working relationships into account and the staffing remains regular for quite a few years.”
Jeffrey’s crew celebrating victory earlier in the year
PC @RayArcherWayne’s career trajectory and positive impression at KTM helped pave the way for a fellow countryman in 2019…
Harry Norton – Mechanic for Tom Vialle, 26 years old.
As the latest member of Red Bull KTM Harry Norton had to move from his employment with KTM Australia in Sydney, immigrate and gel with a Grand Prix rookie all within the first months of his new job. His connection with Tom Vialle is one of the freshest and youngest in the KTM Motorsport department but it has had an instant sway. Success has come quickly for Vialle and Norton, but the Aussie had to walk the long ground beforehand…and also be handy with some cooking tongs!
Harry Norton pit boarding for Tom Vialle
PC @RayArcher“I raced Enduro when I was young,” he says. “I come from a little town in Australia. I did some work experience at the local KTM dealer when I was 15 and the shop offered me a job based on that week. I did a four-year apprenticeship there which would be the equivalent of a mechanical school in Europe. So, I picked up knowledge through the apprenticeship scheme and then through building my own stuff for racing as well as being in the dealership every day. My main job there was diagnostics, and I was leading a team of three people at quite a young age. I got to see a wide variety of issues and servicing for many different bikes. A dealership is not like a racing environment where you are working on the same bike every weekend: we had everything from a KTM 1090 ADVENTURE to a 250 SX-F. If you understand a mechanical item then you know how to problem-solve and think mechanically.”
Norton looks on as Vialle talks to his father ahead of the race start
PC @RayArcherNorton then devised a plan for where he really wanted to be: MXGP. “Every year the national motocross series would come to my home state just for one race. The Technical Director for KTM Australia was a guy called Rob Twyerould. I called him when I was 16 and asked if I could come to the race to hang out and meet people and see how it worked, so for four years I cooked the BBQ for the factory team! In the fifth year they offered me a job and I moved from Adelaide to Sydney. That’s when I started to work in the motocross and enduro team. Over lunch one afternoon I said to Rob that I’d love to go to Europe. I wanted to continue my evolution and to learn and experience new things, preferably as part of an MXGP team. I knew he was going to Austria and the factory the next week. I think it was across the weekend of the Motocross of Nations at RedBud in 2018 when Dirk [Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Manager] called me and said he’d seen my resumé and spoken to a few people about me and offered the chance to come to Europe. Three months later I was in Austria!”
“The history this team has…It’s arguably the best in the paddock. I’d never been to Europe and never met the team. I didn’t even know who Tom Vialle was! In a way this was quite good. I didn’t have any preconceptions or notions of what Europe was like. I came in with an open mind. As a kid this job was the dream. I had a picture of Ben Townley on my wall in 2004. I remember thinking ‘that’s where I want to be…’ I come from a very small town so to have the possibility to come to Europe and do this job is crazy.”
Norton and Vialle in the pit box – Norton explains how dirtbikes are his passion
PC @RayArcherAgain, the combination of work, a diligent attitude and proactivity to make contacts paid off. “I was lucky enough to work with Rob on the technical side and as an apprentice. He got me into the KTM Australia role and then he is very good friends with Dirk and had been going to the factory for 18 years. Without him it would have been a lot more difficult to be here,” Harry says.
Like Properzi, Norton believe there is one trait that is essential for doing a job that many crave but not many understand or are ultimately prepared to take on. “I was so passionate about dirtbikes in general,” Norton summarizes. “My life was – and is – all about them. So, I would say to anybody else wanting to be in this position: keep that passion, take opportunities and show that you are willing to do the small work and do it really well. Passion shows through above everything, always.”
Posted in Racing 19-year old Tom Vialle’s transition from middling European Championship racer to FIM World Championship leader in less than 18 months is one of the biggest stories in MXGP right now. How did the Frenchman make the jump?
Tom Vialle – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
PC @RayArcherIn the summer of 2018 Tom Vialle was known for being a small, occasionally fast rider in the EMX250 European Championship: the feeder series to the FIM Motocross World Championship and the MX2 class. In fact, he was better known for being the son of former Grand Prix winner Frederic Vialle. The teenager had potential however and had veered onto KTM’s radar.
When Red Bull KTM’s Jorge Prado claimed the first of two MX2 world titles in 2018 his factory teammate, and 2017 winner, Pauls Jonass elected to move into the MXGP category. A space opened up in the factory MX2 line-up. KTM already had one of the best riders in the division on a KTM 250 SX-F with the Spaniard, so it was time to look around for the next new talent to plug into the pipeline. There were two issues. Firstly, there was no outstanding and obvious candidates, and secondly, being a Red Bull KTM athlete meant stepping into the pressure cooker: since 2004 and the invention of MX2 from the old 125cc class Red Bull KTM had won all but four years. That’s 12 championships with 8 different riders.
Vialle battles the British soil in Matterley Basin to take his first moto win and GP podium of the 2020 season
PC @RayArcherKTM decided to have a ‘trial’ of sorts. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Motocross Sports Director Joel Smets and KTM VP of Offroad Motorsports Robert Jonas drew up a shortlist and Vialle’s name was in the reckoning. “At Assen [the Dutch GP in September 2018] we talked a little bit; Robert said they were interested in me but there was a list of three-four riders and I wasn’t alone and it would be good to do a test with Joel Smets in Belgium,” Vialle recalls now. It was first taste of factory-level anticipation as the youngster rode with several other hopefuls.
Vialle at the MXGP of Great Britain in 2020
PC @RayArcher“I think it was two weeks later that I went to Belgium with my Dad. We rode one day on hard-pack and one day in the sand at Lommel. Joel was really cool. There was not so much stress. He told me just to ride and practice and he’d watch. I saw him trackside sometimes, sometimes not! He was just observing. On the third day we did some physical training: running and some tests. When we finished we had a little discussion. The Motocross of Nations was coming up and it was already late to have something confirmed for 2019, although Robert had told me in Assen that KTM would like to keep me and would help with an arrangement for 2019 if I wasn’t in Red Bull KTM. We were happy that the factory wanted to follow us…but there were not many teams and places around. We were a bit worried.”
Joel Smets and Vialle’s father Frederic both have a positive input in the KTM racer’s development
PC @RayArcherSmets was impressed by Vialle’s technique and his attitude, even if he did recognize that the rider needed to work on his conditioning. “The motos were shorter for me in 2018, so it meant I had never trained so much!” Tom says. “My Dad didn’t encourage me to train – this was only four years ago! – because he said when I would arrive to GPs then I’d have to do it very hard. I was doing some cycling but nothing more. The minimum. I never did a strict program or worked with a trainer.”
Joining the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team brings a certain pressure – Vialle stepped up to the competition with teammate Prado in 2019
PC @RayArcherSmets believed Vialle was worth the investment of time, energy, tuition as well as a contract. “The Nations passed and I think it was on the Monday or the Tuesday after that we had an email, early evening, saying ‘after a lot of thought we decided to choose you’,” Vialle smiles now at the memory. “We went out to a restaurant to celebrate! At the time you don’t fully realize what it means: to join this team and be the teammate of Jeffrey, Tony and Jorge. It was a bit crazy.”
“I think part of the contract was to move to Belgium and start training with Joel,” he adds. “To be based in Lommel where the training set-up would be. It was easy to do that, and it all moved quite fast. I tried the bike on November 1st, we started to train and then went practicing for some time at the Red Sands track in Spain.”
Vialle made big steps forward in 2019
PC @RayArcherVialle’s impact was swift. His rapid education bore fruit as his stature and technique suited the power of the factory bike and he was soon lapping with Prado, and (again) installing two orange bikes near the front of MX2. He had a virulent penchant for holeshots, captured two podiums (of a final total of seven for the year) in the first four rounds, won the Grand Prix of Sweden and finished 4th in the world. The rise of #28 was not the story of a cocky eighteen-year old full of belief. In fact, his modesty makes the ascension to the top even more remarkable. “In 2018 I was watching Jorge and Pauls Jonass fighting for the championship while thinking ‘they are going so fast’,” he says. “I never thought I could ride like that, actually. I knew I was good…but I never thought I could be as fast and get near their level.”
Vialle said he used to watch the front guys in MX2 – he moved forward quickly to become one of the top riders
PC @RayArcherSo how did he do it? With Smets’ input Vialle started to live, work and breathe like a world champion in the making. “He would have made progress with whoever he worked with…but his training was not structured,” Smets offers. “Tom is not a lazy guy but riders from the south – in my experience – have always seemed to have the speed but not the work ethic or the knowledge to put in the right amount of work.”
Vialle enjoying his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 250 SX-F ahead of the 2020 season
PC @RayArcher“So, we put structure and content into his training, even if that wasn’t the main priority from the beginning,” the former five-times world champion says. “It was more about bringing a system into his life and living as a top athlete. It wasn’t easy. I don’t want to overstate my own role but one strength I had in my career was being able to analyze situations and find solutions. We did that with Tom and we actually took it quite easy in the beginning in terms of volume and intensity. He soon had a routine, got used to it and then we made a step for 2020. He looks like he has dealt with it quite well.”
“Training: I’ve never done so much,” Vialle evaluates. “I do it with the timetable for a full-time job, but it is not really a ‘job’ to have to wake-up and go running. I do it six days a week morning and afternoon with only one day rest. When you do one year like then you feel the difference. You feel strong.”
Vialle’s family are a steady but strong support for the factory racer
PC @RayArcher“Joel was actually my first official trainer,” he explains. “We were working together almost every day the previous winter and I had a good feeling with him after a few days. He always has a positive attitude. He is not one of these trainers that highlights all the bad things you have done in a race. Even if you finish 15th then he’ll find something. That approach is important to me and I really like to work in that way. My Dad never pushed me. In fact, I can only remember him being angry once after a race. I didn’t understand why because it was the first time in 10 years that he came back to the paddock like that! Joel has a lot of experience and is super-professional. It’s a good relationship.”
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team provide the right words and support for Vialle in China, 2019
PC @RayArcherVialle is now having to deal with expectation from all sides: the brand, the sponsors, the fans. He’s on social media but claims not to “live on it”. He narrowly missed a career-defining selection for the 2019 Motocross of Nations team. In 2020 he has already won two from five Grands Prix and has held the red plate as series leader since round two. “Character-wise, Tom is not a daydreamer,” comments Smets. “Since he’s had the red plate, he is not a person who thinks ‘I’ve done it’. We’ve seen examples of riders who have won a GP or fought with the reigning champion and become ‘lost’. For some reason, maybe some results or a factory contract, they think they have made it and slip away. It almost scares me how confident and relaxed he is. My next task will be to watch over that and see that he stays focused.”
Physically fitter, more experienced, more in-tune with the dynamic of a factory team: Vialle is becoming a very potent package indeed. He still faces a big hurdle and that’s handling the mental stress of carrying Red Bull KTM’s championship hopes. It is a role he has assumed so quickly that it’s hard to believe it is such an easy responsibility to bear. Vialle’s natural mentality and his grounded personality seems to be another asset.
Vialle took the championship red plate at the second Grand Prix of the 2020 season in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands
PC @RayArcher“Since I was small I was always in the pack, near the back,” he says. “When I raced in the European 85s I couldn’t follow riders like Jago [Geerts, principal rival for 2020] or Jorge for more than three corners! I was finishing 8th, 9th, 10th while they were always in the top three. I was seconds behind them in Timed Practice. They were really a big step ahead. So now I’ve moved forward really quickly to be with them. Jago would always beat me in every race, in fact I’m sure he didn’t know who I was. Now we are fighting together for GP wins.”
“When I signed for KTM I knew I would have to work and train a lot, and after a few races went well I thought ‘I’m actually not that far’,” he remembers. “My goal was to run as close to the front of MX2 this year but to already be leading the championship so early in the season was never in my agenda!”
The Frenchman’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 250 SX-F with the red plate in Latvia, 2020
PC @JuanPabloAcevedo“He is realistic and honest and he was an average European Championship rider who signed that factory deal and realized right away that it meant the start of the hard work,” underlines Smets. “That approach is a big part of his ‘secret’ or his success so far. He approaches that red number plate in the same way. When we started riding after the lockdown he had that plate on his training bike and I thought ‘maybe we should take it off’ but the kid doesn’t seem to be worried about it. He knows the plate means nothing at all. It’s just another color. He understands that leading the championship now doesn’t mean anything if you are not doing it at the end of the year.”
“The mentality is just to enjoy [the job],” Vialle concludes. “If you can take the starts, and enjoy the riding then this can only help…thinking too much won’t.”
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team enjoys a strong result at the Grand Prix of Latvia 2020
PC @JuanPabloAcevedoIf there is another stark example of Vialle’s ability to learn and excel then it’s with his level of English. He conducts a twenty-minute interview with confidence and enthusiasm. It’s a startling change from the shy rookie who could barely manage a few heavily-accented words in 2019. “I never opened one book,” he smiles. “Last year I knew ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, ‘good’ and ‘not good’ some s****y things! I didn’t make so much progress in the first winter because I was talking with Joel in French. I didn’t talk much with Jeffrey because I couldn’t. When I arrived at the first GP and my mechanic can only talk in English – wow, it was really difficult. My Dad’s English was also not great. With Joel and Vale [Ragni, Team Co-Ordinator] I made some progress and then with my girlfriend, Celia, I made another big step because we only spoke in English and she’d help me out with any translation of words from French. And Netflix of course!”
On this current trajectory Tom Vialle will be prompting some essential binge viewing in MXGP for quite some time yet.
Posted in Racing Make light work of extreme enduro’s toughest hill climbs with Manuel Lettenbichler’s secret tips for reaching the top…
Manuel Lettenbichler – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
PC @KTMRed Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Manuel Lettenbichler has quickly established himself as one of the world’s best extreme enduro riders. Winning the 2019 Red Bull Romaniacs on route to clinching the WESS Enduro World Championship, Lettenbichler more often than not showed his competitors a clean set of heels when it came to conquering brutal hill climbs.
Lettenbichler is the 2019 WESS Enduro World Champion
PC @KTMThanks to hard work, hours of practice and an enviable natural talent, Mani has learned how to ride his KTM 300 EXC TPI up and over terrain most would shy away from. Breaking his process down, Mani, who is currently recovering from a small injury ahead of the WESS Enduro World Championship 2020 season, offers advice on how to master those Red Bull Romaniacs style long, steep, zig-zag single-track goat trails.
Lettenbichler steers his KTM 300 EXC TPI over some tough terrain
“When approaching a climb, I scout my eyes as far ahead as possible to pre-empt what might be coming. Of course, for Red Bull Romaniacs, we are seeing things for the first time when we get there, but there are little things you can look out for. If there’s a signpost naming the climb then you know it will be tough. If spectators are gathered in certain areas then they are the key parts to get right.”
Mani says riders should look out for where the people are stood, as that’s likely to be a difficult part of a climb – 2019
PC @Future7MediaBody position
“I like to stand up as long as I possibly can. It’s the best riding position to be in to react to the trail and to save energy. My body position is central on the bike. I’m in a balanced position to maximize traction and I can play with the bike using my upper body. When I need to sit I still adopt this central position. During off cambers I keep my inside leg off the footrest ready to dab for extra balance and support if required. A tip for slow and steep seated climbing is to put your feet in front of the footrests. This stops you from sliding too far back on the seat.”
Lettenbichler navigates one of the tough Red Bull Romaniacs climbs in 2019
PC @Future7MediaGear selection
“I like to ride a hill climb one gear higher than usual. I want to use the torque of my KTM 300 EXC TPI to drive forward. All of the time I’m trying to keep my RPM low to avoid wheel spin. I always cover the clutch with my index finger but avoid using it too much. This way you’re saving the bike and preventing your finger from cramping up. When things get crazy steep I will drop to first gear, but again I’ll ride with a low RPM with a little clutch use.”
Being patient and calculated is key to success for the challenging sections of a course
PC @KTMTire setup
“Starting an event with a new set of tires and a new rear tire for each race day is crucial for extreme enduro. Fresh rubber will make a big difference in your riding and experience, especially for somewhere like Red Bull Romaniacs where you are on the bike all day. I fit a super soft Metzeler to get grip and traction on those off-camber climbs. But a soft tire is not enough if the moose is too stiff – that’s something a lot of people forget. A stiff moose means no flex and in turn no grip when you need it most. So, check your moose and drill it to soften it, if needed.”
“For long climbs it’s important to save energy. Big climbs usually have a signpost at the beginning to signal them, so take a quick drink from your hydration system. If you’re feeling it midway, find a safe ‘level spot’ off the main line to stop and pound an energy gel. Once you reach the top keep moving but reduce your pace to recover.”
Picking a route and saving energy is important when racing up tough climbs – Red Bull Romaniacs 2019
PC @Future7MediaBe patient and calculated
“Always remain calm and don’t stress out. Try to ride clever and be smart out there. Yes, it’s a race, but when the race is five hours long or maybe more, it’s ok to take an extra 10 seconds to assess the situation. This way you can help to avoid unnecessary rock strikes or crashes and save your body, bike and energy.”
Mani explains that it’s important to practice on climbs to be able to remain calmer in the race
PC @KTMWhy practice makes (almost) perfect
“At home when you go for a ride, try to practice sections like these. Don’t wait until race day to learn – that’s the hard way. This is important because you can work on your technique without being under pressure. You’ll find ways that work for you and your bike so when it matters you will instinctively know how to conquer those climbs.”
Posted in Racing What a weekend at KTM’s home Grand Prix! Following on from that historic first MotoGP victory thanks to Brad Binder just two races ago, KTM made the headlines again for the Grand Prix of Styria at the Red Bull Ring in Austria at the weekend (21-23 August) with a multitude of achievements including a second race win!
Teamwork: KTM enjoys its second MotoGP success and first double podium
PC @PolarityPhotoRed Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaró, who has played a pivotal role in the development of KTM’s RC16, has looked blisteringly quick since the start of the season, but he hasn’t been able to turn that speed into the results he’d been looking for so far this year. However, the Spaniard’s fortunes changed somewhat this weekend as he delivered a milestone first for KTM and himself with a maiden premier class pole position; and what better place to do it than at KTM’s home Grand Prix?
Pol Espargaró lines up at the front of the grid having taken his and KTM’s first Pole Position
PC @PolarityPhotoThe race this weekend was much cooler than the last, which Espargaró had been leading one week ago before a red flag and restart, at the Austrian circuit. Come race day this weekend, KTM won in Moto3™ for the second consecutive time thanks to Celestino Vietti and the Sky Racing Team VR46 squad. KTM also looked to be on target for securing a victory with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in Moto2™, although Jorge Martin was unlucky to be demoted to second place after the checkered flag due to exceeding track limits on the last lap.
Celestino Vietti enjoys a second consecutive Moto3 victory
PC @PolarityPhotoThe MotoGP race was as thrilling as it could be. Another red flag mid-race meant the ultimate result was down to a 12-lap sprint, with Espargaró right up in the mix. The 29-year-old was in the lead on the final lap and looking strong, but a fierce battle with Jack Miller and some defensive riding meant the duo ran wide into the final turn, giving room for Miguel Oliveira to take advantage and the victory aboard his Red Bull KTM Tech3 machine. Miller was second and Espargaró rounded out the podium in third – it was certainly incredible, edge-of-seat viewing. More history was made with Oliveira’s result marking the first win for a Portuguese rider in the MotoGP category.
Espargaró was leading on the last lap and finished
third after a final turn duel with Jack Miller
PC @PolarityPhotoIt’s also the second victory for KTM in the premier class, and KTM’s first double podium in MotoGP at the 900th ever premier class Grand Prix. And not to mention the fact that all four KTM MotoGP riders, Brad Binder and Iker Lecuona included, finished inside the top 10 aboard the KTM RC16 in only KTM’s fourth season in the class. A dream weekend for the manufacturer, and testament to all that hard work going on behind the scenes. Whilst wishing Oliveira, Hervé Poncheral (Team Manager) and the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team huge congratulations, as well as to Pol Espargaró for a great weekend, we’d like to share with you some of the highlight images from the 2020 Styrian Grand Prix.
Jorge Martin finished second in Moto2 at the Styrian Grand Prix
PC @PolarityPhotoBrno MotoGP winner and rookie Brad Binder finished in a strong eighth position
PC @PolarityPhotoIker Lecuona finished 10th – all four KTM riders finished in the top ten at KTM’s home race
PC @PolarityPhotoOliveira powers around the Austrian circuit aboard his Red Bull KTM Tech3 RC16
PC @PolarityPhotoOliveira hugs Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Manager Hervé Poncheral
PC @PolarityPhotoOliveira is the first Portuguese rider to win a MotoGP race
PC @PolarityPhotoMiguel Oliveira takes his maiden premier class victory at the Red Bull Ring in Austria
PC @PolarityPhotoA special day for Oliveira