Feeling like a factory rider … for one day
No doubt the factory riders of KTM were not very happy when they found out their ‘babies’ were being turned over to a bunch of journalists for a day. But a chance to try out the powerful machines of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing on the famous Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard is a unique opportunity that no journalist wants to miss.
Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
Sometimes the right words just aren’t finding their way onto ‘paper’, your computer really needs an upgrade, and an interview you had planned weeks ago gets canceled at the last minute. Contrary to popular belief, the life of a motorcycle journalist is not always glitz and glamor. Luckily, just one simple email can make all that ‘misery’ disappear in a flash. Your whole week, or perhaps even the whole month, suddenly becomes sunny and bright again when you read the words ‘KTM’, ‘you are invited’ and ‘factory bike test’. Fifteen journalists were lucky enough to find this email, sent by the KTM Press/PR Department in Mattighofen, waiting for them in their inbox this summer. All they had to do was travel by plane or car to the south of the Netherlands in the middle of September. Five factory dirtbikes would be waiting for them there, which they could take for a spin around the legendary motocross circuit of Valkenswaard. A unique opportunity to experience first-hand what it feels like to be a factory rider like Jeffrey Herlings, Tony Cairoli, Glenn Coldenhoff, Pauls Jonass, and Jorge Prado.
“The preparation for this media test day started around three months ago”, explains Beatrix Eichhorn. She works as Event Manager at KTM and responsible for the entire organization of this factory bike test ride. Her main job was to make sure the three days went smoothly for everyone who took part in the event. But she didn’t do it alone: Eichhorn had the capable assistance of two colleagues from the Press/PR department of the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer. “They arranged everything that involved the press materials and the race department. Making sure the factory bikes were there for the test, for example, and working out which team members were going to take part. They took care of all that. Not an easy task by any means, because our motocross teams have a very busy Grand Prix schedule. But once we managed to find a date that suited everyone, then we started inviting the journalists and working out the program for the test.”
That was a tricky job as well, because with this type of media event a lot of things have to be organized behind the scenes. Even if you’ve only got a relatively small group of 15 journalists. “First you have to get the go-ahead to use the circuit, in this case the GP Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard, and then you have to arrange hotel accommodation for all the journalists and the support staff. And naturally you also have to arrange food as well, and find suitable restaurants. Plus, you have to organize transfers, journalist gifts and branding material.” Even after all these practical details have been sorted out, the team still had another challenge to overcome. They had to plan the start times for all the test runs and make sure everything was caught on camera. During the media event in Valkenswaard, for example, there were two photographers and two cameramen on hand to make sure the journalists got all the pictures and video they needed. “Putting together a timetable for the test runs can be a complicated process, because you have to make sure every journalist gets to ride every factory bike for at least 20 minutes and you have to consider their travel data.” Luckily KTM have had plenty of experience with this type of event. They do more than just organize one event a year. “We have to launch new (production) models, both offroad and street, and organize meetings and conferences throughout the entire year. So, this type of event is nothing new for us.”
Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer
When the journalists arrived at the hotel, they were welcomed with a refreshing cocktail and then treated to a gourmet dinner in the evening, joined by several surprise guests. Four of the five factory riders (Cairoli, Coldenhoff, Jonass, and Prado), who had generously agreed to ‘lend’ their bikes for this event, sat down with the journalists and answered all their questions in great detail. The only KTM rider not in attendance was Jeffrey Herlings; the young Dutchman had just been crowned the MXGP world champion the weekend before. However, the journalists were glad to learn that he would be joining them the next day at the Eurocircuit while the other riders got back to their training routine.
Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test 2018 © Ray Archer
It was an early morning start for the test ride day, with a presentation hosted by Jennifer Dick, KTM’s Offroad PR Manager. After going through all the technical details of the bikes and the test ride program, she made a surprise announcement. In honor of Herlings world title, KTM had decided to launch a special limited edition of his KTM 450 SX-F. The journalists got a few moments to take a close look at the gleaming replica, and then it was time for them to suit up and get out on the track. The excitement was palpable and plenty of nervous glances were exchanged as the mechanics casually fired up the factory bikes. The motocross circuit had been sprayed to moisten the track, but the bikes soon blew up a huge cloud of dust over Valkenswaard. Not that it bothered Krzysztof Tomaszek, because he had been waiting for this moment all his life. He couldn’t wait to get on the five different factory bikes and share this unique experience with all his readers at scigacz.pl. By the end of the day, he was exhausted, but very satisfied. Going flat out for 20 minutes on five different factory bikes had made an enormous impression on the Polish journalist. “It was a fantastic day that I will never forget. I had never been on a factory bike before, and I have to admit I was pretty nervous beforehand. I’ve had plenty of experience with the production motocross bikes of KTM, but this was a completely different level.” Tomaszek was particularly surprised by the machine of world champion Herlings. “That was definitely the most difficult bike to ride”, he admitted honestly. “Very aggressive and you could tell it was a motocross bike that had been set up for maximum speed. Herlings’ KTM just wants to keep on attacking.”
Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
Then it was time for Jeffrey Herlings to take his bike out onto the track and show them how it’s really done. Instead of a few steady exhibition laps, Jeffrey Herlings thundered around the circuit at the outrageous pace that has made him the seemingly unbeatable champion he is. So, no throttling back only two days after winning his first MXGP World Championship title. His dominance at Valkenswaard has been impressive, with an amazing seven Grand Prix victories in a row on this track. “The MX2 motocross bike of KTM has a very strong engine setup, and that really makes a difference in the heavy sand of Valkenswaard. That’s when you need to use all the horsepower you can get”, explains Herlings. “In the 450 class, the competition is a lot closer together when it comes to pure power. That’s where the total package of KTM makes it stand out from the rest. We’ve got a great bike, a strong team, and of course the best riders.”
Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
The highest level
One journalist who has been in the saddle of a factory bike before is Paul Malin. The former GP motocrosser from Great Britain switched to a career in the media, including MotoX Magazine, after retiring from racing, and he now mainly works as a commentator for the MXGP races. “I’ve just been on the bikes of Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado, and you can definitely feel the difference. They have exactly the same engine setup, but they don’t handle the same. It’s to do with the rear gear wheel, because Jorge uses one tooth less. This gives his dirtbike more punch, a slightly sharper response in third gear”, explains the winner of the MX of Nations in 1994 in more detail. Although Malin has definitely been there and done it, he still always considers it a privilege to be able to ride these types of bikes. “You won’t find better motocross bikes than these, this is the highest level. And each one has its own distinctive feel. Although the bikes are fundamentally the same, they handle completely differently. That’s because each rider has a setup to suit their personal style. It’s about combining all the little details in the right way to produce the right package.”
Another veteran in the world of offroad journalism is Toine van Dijk, who has tried out numerous factory bikes over the years. “But it’s still a very special feeling every time”, according to the test ride editor of the Dutch Noppennieuws. “I’ve been doing this work now for 23 years, but I still get a thrill every time I ride these types of machines. And this year is particularly special for me as a Dutchman, with Jeffrey winning the world championship. I missed out on a chance to test Herlings’ MXGP motocross bike last year, so I was even more excited about getting to see his machine this year.” Van Dijk was also surprised by the noticeable differences between the factory bikes of KTM. Each of the three MXGP motocross bikes he took out on the circuit had a completely different feel. “The setup of Cairoli is of course adjusted to his size, like the lower back side. So, somebody of my size [Van Dijk is a good 1.94 m] is better suited to Herlings’ bike, because he’s tall as well. These personal preferences of the riders are what make each bike feel so different.”
Paul Malin (GBR) KTM 250 SX-F Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer
With his many years of experience in the offroad world, Van Dijk is able to spot the improvements from one year to the next. “You really notice that with the production bikes. It always amazes me, how the engineers are able to achieve progression time and time again. You would think, after a while, that it would simply not be possible to make it any better. And yet they still manage to come up with a new model that takes your breath away. I think that is where KTM really shines. They get input from so many different perspectives, including the factory riders. So, they are able to just keep on getting better and better.”
After a long day on the Eurocircuit, it’s time to go back to the hotel and take a long shower to get rid of all the sand. Refreshed and redressed, the journalists enjoy an evening looking back over the day’s events. During the farewell dinner, there is a lively exchange of stories all around the table. The permanent smile on the suntanned face of Christoph Bertrand shows he also enjoyed getting on the KTM factory bikes today. And naturally, just like all the other journalists, he had his own favorite dirtbike. “It was the last bike I rode today, Jorge Prado’s bike. For me, that was the only machine that was reasonably suitable for an amateur rider. The suspension was a bit softer and I felt more comfortable with that. I could have a lot of fun on that bike”, admits the former GP rider and writer for mxmag.be. “If you put Herlings’ bike in my garage, then I would probably just leave it there. It’s such a beast, you’d have to be a rodeo rider to control that dirtbike. If you’re not in top physical condition, then don’t even think about getting on it. That’s what makes it so great to be given a unique opportunity to ride the factory bikes of a factory team. Just a few minutes hanging on to the handlebars of these GP bikes is totally exhausting. Never mind for half an hour at full throttle. Any respect you had for these boys before only gets bigger once you’ve had a chance to ride their bikes. That’s when you realize how good you have to be to make these dirtbikes go that fast.”
Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
Photos: Ray Archer | Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
Building the next era: Ajo talks Moto2 steps
MotoGPTM faces a significant change for 2019 when the Moto2 class gets a brand-new engine supplier. The technical swap around means some busy times for Aki Ajo and an important part of his ‘development’ program for KTM’s racing structure. We asked him about it …
Aki Ajo (FIN) Aragón (ESP) 2018 © Sebas Romero
The sound and sight of Moto2 will become something new for 2019. MotoGPTM shape-shifts with Honda being replaced by Triumph and their triple cylinder as the sole engine supplier to the intermediate class; where Red Bull KTM Ajo are currently the only team to have both of their riders on the top step of the podium in 2018. MotoGPTM will also buzz to the addition of the Moto-E series next year but it is the work, changes and evolution of Moto2 that is generating more fascination.
Aki Ajo has long been part of the Grand Prix paddock to observe and embrace such changes. Since overseeing the first Moto3 title victory for KTM in 2012, Ajo not only witnessed the explosion of 4-stroke technology in the MotoGPTM divisions but has extended his influence to Moto2 and into Red Bull MotoGP Rookies and the CEV series. He is a key part of the ‘orange ladder’ that KTM have built in the last five years to provide a path through the ranks for promising racing talent.
When the Finn is not talent-spotting or providing guidance – as he is doing with the feted Öncü twins presently – then he is chiseling Moto2. This has meant the careful blend of WP chassis performance to maximize grip and extend tire life and also bring any further counsel to the likes of Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira or Brad Binder for their Grand Prix education.
Miguel Oliveira (POR, #44) & Brad Binder (RSA, #41) Chang International Circuit (THA) 2018 © Gold and Goose
Ajo and his team have already been busy with 2019 tests. The new Moto2 engine has completed considerable mileage and durability runs and was officially ‘handed over’ to MotoGPTM at the Grand Prix of Aragon. At the same circuit – Motorland (where Binder took his current Moto2 machine to victory) – the squad again ran the new bike through its paces.
“I think it has been nine years with the same engine in Moto2 and I think the change it will make people more enthusiastic,” Ajo says “and with anything new you have the chance to learn more compared to always using the same spec. We’ve been busy this summer already. The KTM test team has been working with the engine for some days and our riders will also be busy with this year’s bike and next year’s.”
For WP and the KTM Group Racing division there are obvious new parameters when it comes to the engine’s dimensions and character within the steel-tubed frame, and how the whole package will alter and have an effect on the WP suspension package and Dunlop tires.
Brad Binder´s (RSA) Moto2 bike Aragón (ESP) 2018 © Sebas Romero
While Ajo is buoyed by the work ahead and the question marks that will arise he also doesn’t believe that Moto2 will be turned on its head.
“A motorcycle is a motorcycle and I think many people are speculating now which riders will fit well with this new engine concept,” he opines. “I think if a rider is good, works well and has a good team then it doesn’t matter what motorcycle it is. I don’t think the engine is a big problem, it just makes the work more interesting.”
“When we switched from 125s to Moto3 everyone said to me ‘it will all change …’ but for me not much did,” he reveals. “The only thing was losing that nice noise and smell of the 2-strokes but many other interesting things came with the new category and the 4-strokes. Maybe the riders needed to change their style a little bit but the basics stayed the same: racing is racing and you need to find the right ‘things’ and focus on them.”
Miguel Oliveira (POR) Chang International Circuit (THA) 2018 © Gold and Goose
Over the last couple of seasons Moto2 has arguably turned into MotoGPTM’s toughest competition. The stock engine and slight differences between the five main chassis manufacturers means the gap between a clutch of immensely fast and capable riders comes down to fractions of a second. Gains on a technical level are minuscule.
“It will be interesting to see if it is still so close,” says Ajo who acknowledges that an important winter of laps and more ‘discovery’ of the Moto2 package lie ahead. “I think there is the chance to make a few more steps. Sometimes I feel that Moto2 is even too close. Riders and teams learn a lot through close competition but I also see some good riders a little bit in the shadows if all the things are not perfect. You can be 0.8 of second behind the top guy and way-down in 20th position but you might still be a really fast rider. It will be curious to see … but I don’t think it will be as close at the start of 2019; there could be some bigger steps between the teams.”
On a more specific note, Ajo will lose current championship contender Oliveira to MotoGPTM (the first KTM athlete to move up through from Moto3 GP winning success to Moto2 acclaim and into the ‘big boys’) but will retain Binder for a third season. The South African – who lost most of his first term to a troublesome broken arm injury – will be joined by Moto3 series leader and flyer Jorge Martin. Ajo will keep some continuity with Binder and will also have to harness the potential of the lively Spaniard. “I think it’s key with a new bike that both of the riders are not rookies … but in any case it is also important that Brad has some experience and feedback with the engine already and in November those first tests for the whole team will be vital.”
November and the quiet and vacant Spanish circuits beckon: time for Ajo’s experience to count and for his loyal crew to again move with the rolling sands of racing.
Miguel Oliveira (POR, #44), Brad Binder (RSA, #41) & Moto2 team Assen (NED) 2018 © Philip Platzer
Photos: Sebas Romero | Gold and Goose | Philip Platzer
More tour and more roar: 2019 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT
Posted in Bikes, Riding The covers are off KTM’s heavily updated sports touring titan and we spoke with Project Leader, Tobias Eisele, to find out what’s new.
Tobias Eisele (AUT) KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KTM
Following the launch of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R in 2014 it was quickly discovered that ‘The Beast’ also had a softer side; the amount of torque available made the engine flexible for a variety of riding situations and the ergonomics – despite the exposed bars – was actually quite comfortable for longer runs. Rumor has it that this got the KTM engineers thinking what a bit would some weather protection and a larger tank could do for this machine …
Fact or fable and whatever the decision-making process it was a good one because when KTM entered the sports tourer market in 2016 with the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT it was in the typical READY TO RACE style – big on performance. This new model in the range saw a SUPER DUKE less track extreme and more grand tourer with the results as predicted; a true long distance machine with the ability to play in the curviest of corners.
But history has shown us that KTM never closes the throttle of development and no sooner had the first-generation GT hit the showrooms the R&D engineers were busy working on a sequel. Fast forward three years and KTM BLOG was at INTERMOT in Germany to see the covers come off this new GT. At first glance, the changes seem only minor; new headlight, eye-catching graphics. But Project Leader for the bike, Tobias Eisele, was in Cologne for the international motorcycle fair and spent some time with KTM BLOG to assures us the changes are both significant and a major improvement.
KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KTM
Tobias, what’s new with the GT?
“There are many things! Aside from the chassis and wheels, quite a lot has changed in this big update. We have a new engine – same as from the 2018 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R – with revised resonator chambers, titanium inlet valves and a new mapping to give 175 hp and 141 Nm of torque. There’s now the Quickshifter+, so clutchless up and down shifting. We have a 6.5 inch TFT dash with a unique display for the GT, new windshield and adjuster mechanism, LED headlight, the latest generation setting WP semi-active suspension, storage compartments within bodywork that includes one with a USB charger.”
Is that all?
“No! We also moved the cruise control to the left handlebar, added heated grips and handguards as standard, keyless ignition with KTM RACE ON, we are navigation ready with KTM MY RIDE and of course two new colors and graphics. There’s also a new optional ‘Track’ mode – including launch control, nine-level traction slip control, anti-wheelie. You can say we’ve been busy.”
What were the main goals for the new bike?
“The main goal was to put all the latest premium features that are already available on other products in the KTM range and add them to the GT. We also had to improve on any weaknesses, such as wind protection and the windshield adjustment as the latter didn’t feel as sophisticated as it should have been. So, trying to improve lots of little bits to make the GT a more complete and sophisticated bike. Not a small task.”
How much did you listen to customer feedback?
“When we started on this new version the original bike was only just out, so not much feedback from the outset. We knew our goals for this machine and then feedback soon filtered through. A criticism of the original Street suspension setup was the inclusion of anti-dive. The new suspension settings for Comfort, Street and Sport are massively changed, but with anti-dive now exclusive to Comfort. Other small things included the wish for the cruise control to be on the left bar, a longer pin on the side stand to make it easier to reach with the foot, a quickshifter for up and down and – of course – a TFT display.”
KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KISKA/R. Schedl
What were the biggest challenges?
“Just putting the bridge to all those new features we talked about. The dash, for example, required a new software development; it was a big challenge. You have the supplier for the display, the designers, the engineers for the functions and you have to bring it all together. In another life I worked in aerodynamics for F1, so this area of the GT was something I was very interested in. But rather than performance, we worked hard in this department for comfort – such as weather protection and noise from the screen at speed. But as well as the rider comfort, we had to make sure it was a good design. As we didn’t want to make a compromise, there was a lot of back and forth between the engineers and designers but I’m happy with the result.”
So how is the GT aerodynamically better?
“Well, we have handguards to help keep cold wind and rain away from hands, but the way in which the new headlight and screen are working sees the bike feel just as comfortable to ride as the previous bike even when you are doing 20 km/h more.”
What part of the bike are you the most proud of?
“Besides aerodynamics and the semi-active suspension where we have made a really big improvement – especially between the modes – without changing the hardware, I would say that it was convincing my bosses to add the two storage compartments on the inside of the fairings. We’ve done this without having to add any big boxes and the way they work is really neat. When we completed our first prototype, I asked my manager to find where we had hidden a phone and he couldn’t manage it. Mission accomplished!”
Backed up by a bigger array of official KTM PowerParts to further personalize this potent sports tourer, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT hits showrooms at the end of this year.
KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KISKA/F. Lackner
Photos: KTM | KISKA
Toby Price World Champion in Morocco in pictures
Posted in People, Racing The Rally du Maroc concluded the five-round FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price won the event to be crowned the 2018 champion.
The five-round series has seen the best rally racers from around the world compete over some of the most difficult terrain in the UAE, South America and Africa, with the title fight going down to the wire at the Morocco race. The Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team has enjoyed some strong results with all of its riders, which is especially positive in preparation to defend the team’s 17 consecutive Dakar wins, and this year’s Dakar champion, Matthias Walkner, joined Price on the podium with third in the overall standings.
Price’s long string of accolades, including his Dakar win in 2016, now adds the world championship thanks to his consistent riding throughout the season. The 31-year-old Australian ace battled back from a broken femur sustained in the 2017 edition of the Dakar to take a podium third this January, followed by his world title win this week. We take a look at some of the best pictures of the Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team in action in Morocco.
Sam Sunderland (GBR) & Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY Rally du Maroc 2018 © Rally Zone
Photos: Rally Zone
Interview of the Month: The New Guy – Talking with Cooper Webb
Red Bull KTM’s exciting new AMA Supercross and Motocross recruit checks in for the first time …
Roger De Coster has his man. Three times AMA champion Cooper Webb had been on the Belgian’s radar for some time in the vast and exciting world of American supercross and motocross. The athlete from North Carolina is just 22 years old and has two 250 SX West Coast titles and one 250 MX motocross crown but he has struggled to replicate that aggressive and determined form since moving into the 450 category for 2017; injuries have also not helped his progress.
Red Bull KTM now have a fantastic prospect to mould.
For 2019 Team Manager Ian Harrison will count on Webb’s undoubted talent alongside Marvin Musquin on the KTM 450 SX-F in the Baseball and American Football arenas and then across the breadth of the USA for the summer MX series. For Webb the move to ‘orange’ is a big one; a change of residence, manufacturer, trainer and guiding forces for a season that will stretch to more than thirty weekends.
Ian Harrison (USA), Cooper Webb (USA) & Roger De Coster (BEL) KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION 2018 © KISKA, Inc.
We facetimed Cooper at his base in Florida and after he’d taken his first laps with the KTM 450 SX-F and in the company of De Coster, Harrison and Co.
Cooper, after the success with Ryan Dungey and Marvin in recent years is there a feeling that a chance with Red Bull KTM is one that cannot be considered lightly?
“Absolutely. We’ve been talking for a long time and it was an honor when they reached out for me to be the next guy. They’ve really turned that team around and you cannot argue with the results over the past 5-8 years. I think they’ve managed to create one of the best teams out there.”
The prospect of working with Roger and Ian must have been important as well?
“I’ve seen them work every week and how they went about their racing. It was a big part of the appeal for me. The KTM is obviously a great bike but the way the crew is and all the knowledge and experience makes for a pretty powerful team. Even in my first few days with them and riding the bike, I learned so much about setup and racecraft. I’m only 22 so I still have a lot to learn.”
It’s a hefty change of scene for you …
“Yes and no. I mean it was a humongous change in some aspects: living, my trainer and from one bike or brand that I had been with for 5-6 years. Now that it is real and happening and moving fast it doesn’t feel that crazy. I’m finding my way and I’m really happy while I’m doing it. It’s also cool to be with Red Bull again because I was with them as an amateur and they always treated me really well. So, there have been a lot of changes but positive ones.”
While there have been #5s, #1s, #25s on the KTMs then there have been great results. Does that increase the pressure to hit the same marks?
“Ha! There’s always a bit of pressure in any team you go to but it’s encouraging what this team have achieved; they really have ‘been there and done it’ so I don’t see any reason why they cannot do it with me. Rather than pressure I see that past success like a ‘guideline’.”
It’s early days but how do you like the feel of the KTM?
“Yeah … I’ve only ever been Pro with one manufacturer so it is hard to comment on other bikes but the thing that struck me about the KTM was how light and narrow it felt. I was at home right away and it suited my style. The engine power is so usable. I rode it quite a bit and I didn’t really change much from the original setting we tried at the beginning because it worked right away.”
You’ll be training with Aldon at the Baker’s Factory as well? Thoughts on entering that program?
“Yeah, I’ve grown up seeing how he has been able to ‘transform’ guys and his record with different riders is definitely proven. For me it is another strong part of the whole KTM setup. I have an opportunity that really involves the whole package. I think it will be different for me but I’m excited about that.”
And having Marvin as a teammate?
“A great rider, and one that is at the top of his game right now. I’m be trying to learn as much as I can from him and it will also be interesting and nice to have a teammate like that because many times [in past teams] I’ve been the only guy. It will be nice for motivation or to be able to talk and bounce ideas around.”
Marvin Musquin (FRA) KTM 450 SX-F Budds Creek (USA) 2018 © Simon Cudby
It’s been a tough introduction for you to the 450s recently. Will this chance invigorate the motivation to be one of the very top names in the sport once again?
“I had a special run in the Lites but then have struggled for two years on the bigger bikes because of different stuff. At times I showed good speed but things didn’t really click for some reason. It will be kinda cool to come up on the radar again. I know there will be people interested in what I do on the KTM and quite some attention but I will be putting in the work and doing everything to come into the year as strong as I can be. With everything around me I know I have put myself in the best possible position for winning on the track again. I had a very comfortable feeling with the guys and on the bike from the very first moments – almost a ‘night and day’ feeling actually – and that just gives you confidence.”
So, when will people first see you in orange?
“Well, the announcement is made and we might race at the Monster Cup in Vegas if I’m feeling ready and we’re all prepared. I won’t be doing any overseas races this year. The plan is to ‘stick to the plan’ and focus on getting ready with the bike for Anaheim 1. I don’t want anything to take me away from that or the work with Aldon.”
Photos: KISKA, Inc. | Simon Cudby