KTM is READY TO RACE Dakar 2018
Posted in People, Racing With 16 consecutive wins at the notoriously tough Rally Dakar the KTM Factory Racing Team is gearing up for another tough battle in January with the sole aim of continuing this unbelievable success-streak.
KTM 450 RALLY © Future7Media
With an all-new KTM 450 RALLY machine in the hands of Red Bull KTM riders Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner, Toby Price and Antoine Meo, along with Laia Sanz and Luciano Benavides, the stage is set for another exciting endurance battle of man and woman, machine and team. Here is the video from the recent action shooting and final test before the bikes are loaded and begin their journey for the 2018 race, which begins on January 6.
Video: GSP Media/KTM
#inthisyear2017: A look back at the first KTM MotoGP™ season
Posted in Bikes, Racing Impressive, magnificent, and a whole host of other superlatives – that’s the kind of thing you’d have heard when talk turned to the Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team following the MotoGPTM 2017 season finale. In its very first season, KTM has become a heavyweight on the Grand Prix-circuit. There were, of course, some setbacks along the way, but the final standings after all that hard work show a team heading in the right direction – and straight for the top.
Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team Valencia (ESP) 2017 © Philip Platzer
Successes include the first world championship points for the KTM RC16, points for both KTM factory riders, the first top-ten result, and some outstanding performances in qualifying. In the October Grand Prix at Phillip Island, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders managed to land second- and third-place on the starting grid for the very first time, with both finishing the race in the top ten. By now even the doubters couldn’t deny that KTM had become top-class heavyweights in their very first season. It is surely only a matter of time until a KTM rider makes an appearance on the podium for the first time.
Stefan Pierer, KTM CEO, outlined where KTM will go from here: “We at KTM have achieved pretty much everything except a MotoGPTM title, so we’ve still got a score to settle. We don’t prescribe to that Olympic principle that it’s all about taking part and not about winning medals – we want to be up on that podium. And, at the end of the day, we’re still dreaming of a World Championship title.”
Pol Espargaró (ESP, #44) & Bradley Smith (GBR, #38) KTM RC16 Phillip Island (AUS) © Marco Campelli
In the spring of 2014, shortly after winning a second Moto3 World Championship title in the 2013 season, KTM announced their entry into the MotoGPTM. Just 15 months later, the roll-out of the KTM RC16 took place on the Red Bull Ring in Styria, Austria. It was a major undertaking for motorsport boss Pit Beirer. Before the project could even get off the ground, he had to fit together a team like pieces in a puzzle, and convince people to come over to KTM. The function test for the new bike – developed completely in-house – ran perfectly smoothly and thus laid the groundwork for what was to come next. In 2016, a further development was announced when it was revealed that test riders Alex Hofmann and Mika Kallio, third-place at the 2008 World Championships on a 250cc 2-stroke KTM, would be joining the team. Things then really started to get serious in the 2017 season, when the two factory riders Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith were added to the mix.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team were unveiled to the press for the first time against the grand backdrop of the summer 2016 home Grand Prix on the Red Bull Ring. Stepping out in front of a home crowd was a truly special moment for all concerned. The next major target was the Grand Prix in Valencia, where Mika Kallio was entered as a wildcard rider to test out the KTM RC16 under race conditions, just one year after its launch. After a series of disappointing training sessions, things improved significantly for Kallio in qualifying and he managed to land 20th place. Everyone involved was delighted that KTM didn’t finish at the bottom of the pack. Unfortunately, bad luck on race day meant that Kallio had to retire with a faulty sensor.
Mika Kalio (FIN, #-36) KTM RC16 Valencia (ESP) 2016 © Sebas Romero
The subsequent test rides showed a clear improvement in training times to become among the quickest. This trend also continued in the 2017 season races, and soon KTM boss Stefan Pierer’s dreams of securing a podium position didn’t seem so crazy.
Motorsport has long been a part of KTM’s proud history. Shortly after commencing motorcycle production, KTM models began taking part in the series machine races that were popular at the time and, exactly six decades ago, KTM’s first racing bike – constructed by Ludwig Apfelbeck and featuring a 125cc 4-stroke engine – was launched. At the end of the 1950s, due to a crisis on the European motorcycle market, KTM discontinued its motorcycle production and it wasn’t until 2003 that KTM riders could be found back on the track and fighting for victories and championship titles.
On its 50th anniversary, KTM entered the world of Grand Prix sport with the 125 FRR, followed two years later by the 250cc class. In 2005, KTM won the Constructors’ World Championship in the 125cc class. That’s when KTM first sampled the waters of MotoGPTM, working as the engine supplier for the Kenny Roberts’ Proton Team, which, despite the performance of an almost 240-hp V4 KTM engine, did not manage to score any world championship points. After this, the FIM announced their plan to ban 2-stroke machines from Grand Prix sport, thus ending KTM’s factory-based involvement in 2009. It continued to develop young talent of the highest level, however, with the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. So when, in 2012, the new Moto3 class was launched, KTM were able to present their new 4-stroke bike, the KTM RC 250 GP, which was a real contender straight out of the gate, picking up the first two titles in this new class through Sandro Cortese and Maverick Viñales. Many current MotoGPTM stars experienced their first victories on the125cc 2-stroke KTM, but were forced to switch manufacturers once they switched to a different class. But that shouldn’t be an issue anymore. “KTM wants to keep its riders in the family,” says Pit Beirer. KTM wants Moto2 to be a platform where young riders can continue to work with KTM in the smaller classes too. “Even we never dreamed that we would come through the first Moto2 season in such a strong position with three consecutive victories. We won’t be letting Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder, the two Ajo Team riders, out of our sights and we will definitely be seeing them again in the MotoGPTM on a Red Bull Factory Racing KTM.”
Miguel Oliveira (POR) & Brad Binder (RSA) Valencia (ESP) 2017 © Gold and Goose
Photos: Philip Platzer | Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero | Gold and Goose
Sim Racing with the KTM X-BOW
For almost 10 years now, the KTM X-BOW, in its various versions, has truly proven its worth as an exceptional piece of (motor)sports kit for a wide range of requirements. However, the super sports car from Austria has now also become a hit among “sim racers” from around the world and is available in virtually all motor racing simulations!
“Track Racing meets Sim Racing” was the motto of SIM-Department’s stand at SimRacing Expo – the largest German-speaking trade fair for sim racing – held at the Nürburgring. On the stand, which was organized jointly with KTM Sportcar GmbH, amateurs and professionals from across Europe had the opportunity to test the latest KTM X-BOW R, as used in KTM’s own entry-level and semi-pro “Rookies Challenge” racing series. Virtually, of course. Or more precisely with the popular “Assetto Corsa” simulator, which receives high praise for its faithful simulation of driving dynamics.
The reactions of the “real” drivers from the X-BOW BATTLE, Rookies Challenge, and GT4 European Series proved that their stand motto was not just an advertising slogan: “It drives very much like in reality,” said Reinhard Kofler, KTM factory and development driver, who was a race winner in the GT4 European Series last season. Kofler and his fellow KTM drivers Laura Kraihamer, Cedric Freiburghaus, and Eike Angermayr were all in agreement that sim racing at this level can be way more than just an entertaining pastime or hobby: “It really helps you to prepare for a race, especially if you’ve never been to a race track before,” added Freiburghaus.
What’s more, you can also compete against the best sim racers. The perfect platform for this is “X-BOW BATTLE ONLINE”, which also runs on the “Assetto Corsa” simulator! This is being held for the third time in the 2017/2018 winter season and was once again completely booked out within a very short time, not least because of the tireless enthusiasm of its “inventor” Jörg Göbel and the guys from the SIM-Department team led by Jens Purkott.
A total of 30 drivers compete to win the title, driving on renowned race tracks, just like in the “real” X-BOW BATTLE: on 11/05/2017 at the Nürburgring, on 12/10/2017 at Spa-Francorchamps, on 01/21/2018 at Zandvoort, on 02/25/2018 at Silverstone, on 03/25/2018 at Imola, and on 04/29/2018 in the triumphant finale on the Red Bull Ring, the KTM X-BOW’s “home track”. Competition is fierce – and at times entrants will face “real” drivers from the “real BATTLE”! But anyone wanting to pit themselves against these guys will have to wait until the next season, which is certain to follow due to the huge success enjoyed thus far! Until then you’ll find all the info at http://xbb.sim-department.eu, including links to the live streams with live commentary!
Photos: KTM Sportcar GmbH
The ‘newbies’ in action
Posted in Bikes, Riding The LC8c was the star of the 2017 EICMA display and unveiling but seeing a bike stationary and under lights is one thing, in its element is another …
The KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype give plenty of scope for some spectacular images across landscape and terrain that begs to be explored with two wheels.
KTM 790 ADVENTURE R prototype © R. Schedl
With a name like ‘The Scalpel’ KTM’s new mid-range offering was always going to be a feast for the eyes and the marketing wizards between Mattighofen and KISKA at Salzburg have come up with some special photos to show-off the KTM 790 DUKE’s angles and potential.
KTM 790 DUKE MY2018 © R. Schedl
The KTM 450 RALLY is another model that shines in its habitat and just as Sunderland, Price, Walkner and co will be cutting through some truly epic scenery in South America in the first days of the new year, these pics are a timely reminder of the possibilities with the KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA.
KTM 450 RALLY © M. Kin
Enjoy the selection and get the bank balance warmed up for some special Christmas requests!
Photos: R. Schedl | M. Kin
The Great One: Tony Cairoli
There are not many motorcycle racers competing at the highest level with nine FIM World Championships to their name – just two in fact – and Red Bull KTM’s Tony Cairoli is one of them. What possessed the man to seek more silverware at 31 years of age? Will he reach that mythical ten? And how will he deal with a super-competitive teammate in 2018?
Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2017
It will be hard to find a motocross fan that will contest Tony Cairoli’s claim to greatness. There might have been a few, however, that wondered if they would see the Sicilian back in the kind of form that snared six consecutive premier class world titles between 2009-2014. Entering 2017 Cairoli was bubbling after two years of injury frustration (although he still finished as MXGP runner-up while dealing with nerve damage in his back and shoulder) and the influx of riders like Romain Febvre, Tim Gajser and Red Bull KTM teammate Jeffrey Herlings; all almost ten years younger than the venerable #222.
Cairoli not only pushed the naysayers away from the fences but did so with some inspirational performances. The comeback from almost last place to win the second moto at round five in Arco di Trento and the excellence in the frying Ottobiano sand for the eleventh Grand Prix of the year are just two instances that come to mind to illustrate that Tony was better, craftier and faster than ever.
Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Neuquen (ARG) 2017
As is the case with any sporting ‘giant’ it would have been foolish to dismiss Cairoli’s chances. His skill set in all terrains and race circumstances and sheer depth of experience of a full-time GP career stretching back to 2004 meant his potential was still far too rich. Fit, energized and comfortable on the KTM 450 SX-F after a clear winter period of testing, Cairoli roared back to prominence with twelve podiums and six Grand Prix wins from the nineteen rounds of 2017.
“He is motivated and he has fun and that is the most important thing. He always wants to be better and better and this is the secret,” revealed Team Manager David De Carli when asked why Cairoli still has the urge to work and take risks to be at the peak of the sport. Many observers – and even the riders themselves – commented on the demands and stressful competitiveness of MXGP this year. It would take something special to rule the roost and Tony made it happen.
Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2017
Having known and spoken regularly to arguably the best offroad racer in the modern era (and he’s in some very special company) for over ten years I have to back-up De Carli’s statement. Cairoli – like another famous Italian in MotoGPTM – does not have to race or doesn’t harbor some desperate career goal out of reach (he is already the second most successful motocrosser ever). He searches the limit out of desire, a love for riding, competition and all aspects of being a top-flight athlete. Cairoli does not shy away from aspects of his job and his lifestyle. He can easily be found in the paddock or the race team and is not locked in his motorhome anxiously waiting for the moments of a Grand Prix weekend that involves firing a button on the KTM 450 SX-F. He embraces being a leader, a champion and, being one of the best at what he does, hitting 32 he’s still not ready to walk away from it, or back off.
“There is not much you can do about age but I think that at 29-30 you are still capable of a good level however the two injuries ‘stopped’ me for two years and I couldn’t work like I wanted,” he said to me at Assen and the Dutch Grand Prix where he reached a new milestone. “I rode less. I trained less. In one way it was good because it gave me more motivation. It is like 2017 ‘saved’ those last two wasted years for me.”
“I didn’t know if I could get over that problem from 2016,” he reflected. “I didn’t really know the extent of the problem. I knew I had snapped a nerve and the doctor said I had to adapt and I might get some strength back but it would never be completely healed. I said: “Ok …” and thought I might have to ride like that for the rest of my life. I kept on going to the gym, kept on doing physio and it slowly got better and better. In the winter I was feeling good and was training more like normal and feeling more relaxed on the bike and with more power. In the end it was good and the winter went well.”
“You know, after you win a title you always think back,” he adds. “It is also a strong point because it means you know how to adapt to a situation and every year you have to work around your rivals and contenders and we have done that well. The winter has always been about trying to improve one area that we felt we were missing the previous season. And, like that, you always grow.”
Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2017
Cairoli is up to nine titles, seven in MXGP and two in MX2. He is within distance of Stefan Everts’ previously ‘untouchable’ haul of ten and a season or two of the 101 Grand Prix win total. This week he gets married and will even indulge in a test of the Red Bull KTM MotoGP bike at Valencia in the coming days. He claims not to be driven by numbers but 2018 represents the chance to put his name at the top of the record books. Another motivating force will be the presence of a hungry Herlings, who won five of the last six rounds of MXGP and clearly gave Cairoli food for thought.
“Yeah, I’m already looking forward to that,” he says. “When you are riding for the championship it is very difficult to keep the strength and train every week. At the beginning and the middle of the season you push your hardest in training to gain as many points as possible at the weekend and then when you make a gap it becomes risky to train too much on the bike or even the bicycle. So while you are slowing down a bit and avoiding more risk there is a competitor who is flying at 110% because he wants to earn points and win.”
“He [Jeffrey] was pushing for GP wins and bonuses and I know about that because last year I was riding badly but still going all-or-nothing every other weekend. I didn’t have a good speed or condition but I still won some GPs because I went for it without thinking. Jeffrey is a big talent. Very fast. I don’t think his technique is one of the best but he puts in so much work on the bike. He is very strong the whole moto and has a lot of power. He rides more on his strength and energy than technique; I like riders who use their technique and who are cleaner with that but everyone has his own style. I’m also different [to him] with my mentality. I have never said ‘I am the best try to beat me’. I have just tried to show it through my career.”
Jeffrey Herlings (#84, NED) & Tony Cairoli (#222, ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Pangkal Pinang (INA) 2017
It is typical of racing and sport that the next challenge immediately follows a previous achievement. Cairoli returned to the top in 2017 but will have to arguably improve again to rule once more in 2018 (there’s the motivator). Regardless of what happens now #222 must be aware of the legacy he is creating. What would a fifteen year old Cairoli – based in Sicily and just a few months before he left for the mainland to chase his ambitions – have said to the statement that he would eventually be lauded as one of the best of all-time?
“Ha, for sure when I was a kid then I was not so good, and it was because I didn’t have anybody to compare [myself] with. I wasn’t like [Ken] Roczen or Herlings who were born close to the ‘capital’ of motocross and had the chance to see many good riders and just by watching others you can grow a lot. I was in Sicily until I was almost sixteen and the only person who I could see was better than me was my cousin, who was doing local races. I learnt from him and watched DVDs of American races but didn’t see a GP until I got onto a 125. It was very difficult because I didn’t know if I had the talent or not until I reached the De Carli team and I was eighteen. It was pretty late. If I had been born in Holland or Belgium then I would have had more skills earlier. It’s OK. I have really enjoyed my career and I regret nothing. About the best? Ha, for sure I would have said ‘no way’. I was top five in the Italian championship but I was nothing special. I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Belief in Tony Cairoli certainly isn’t a problem any more.
Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2017
Photos: Ray Archer/KTM