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  1. KTM 790 DUKE: A mountain to climb After setting the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb outright motorcycle record in 2017 with the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, KTM and Chris Fillmore return on June 24 with the new KTM 790 DUKE. Their goal – the Middleweight Division win and lap record. Ahead of this mountainous challenge, Chris talked to KTM BLOG. Chris Fillmore (USA) KTM 790 DUKE © Brapp Snapps Media There are a lot of challenging events that a motorcycle can be pointed at, but the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has got to be up there with the most insane. The ‘Race to the Clouds’ is an annual invitational automobile and motorcycle hill climb to the summit of Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in Colorado, USA. Celebrating its 102-year birthday in 2018, the PPHC is 12.42-miles and 156 corners of high-altitude, high-intensity challenge of man and machine. There’s little room for error to make it to the 14,115 feet finish line. And that’s a stark reality of this event. Last year, KTM stormed to the outright course record along with the Heavyweight class and overall motorcycle win when former AMA Superbike racer, Chris Fillmore, piloted his KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R to a time of 9:49.625. If you haven’t already seen it, watch this video … [embedded content] As the READY TO RACE company, KTM thrives on new challenges – often coupled with a motivated racer like Fillmore. The idea to return to the mountain with the new KTM 790 DUKE to try and clinch the Middleweight Division win and course record soon had hearts within the company pumping orange blood with excitement. The Middleweight class is open to 2- or 4-stroke bikes of 1 to 4 cylinders with a displacement of 501-850cc. The KTM 790 DUKE’s LC8c parallel twin engine comes in at 799cc, punching out 105hp and 87 ft-lb of torque. But with the huge rise in elevation over the course – beginning with a start line at 9000 feet – means there’s about a 3% reduction in performance for every 1,000 feet of altitude. Let alone the physical stress on the rider. The Middleweight record was set in 2017 by Codie Vahsholtz, clocking 10:34.967 on a Husqvarna Supermoto. More impressive is that also last year, Davey Durelle was less than half a second behind with the Lightweight class record and he’s stepping up to the Middleweight division in 2018. “Well, we could have gone back with the 1290 and tried to go even faster, but with the new KTM 790 DUKE arriving in North America later this year, we thought we’d give that a go and try and make more history,” Michigan-born Chris Fillmore tells us in his understated, laidback tone. Chris Fillmore (USA) KTM 790 DUKE © Brapp Snapps Media We caught up with 31-year old Chris on his way to work at KTM North America in California after returning from the Pikes Peak official ‘tire test’. Seat time has been limited for the #11 after getting the bike later than planned, so this important test was his final chance to get the setup perfect ahead of the event, beginning June 18 with the race held on June 24. “There’s definitely a lot of competition this year in all classes and Davey is already going well,” Chris explains. “I think course records will be broken this year – well, hopefully not my outright record – but I’m hoping to win the Middleweight class with a new record and try to put it on the box in the motorcycle overall class. I guess we shall see!” KTM didn’t design the KTM 790 DUKE to be a track weapon, but as the sportmotorcycle manufacturer that creates every bike in the READY TO RACE style, it didn’t take much to make ‘The Scalpel’ even sharper. “The stock bike is already on a high level, I know, because I tested it on track in Spain with Jeremy McWilliams against competitor bikes which was very encouraging,” Chris says almost surprised. “We took the stock machine and raided the KTM PowerParts catalog, adding some Wave brake discs, rearsets, a single seat and some other bling. Along with those, we removed the lights, threw in some different spring rates for the suspension, different tires, a special full Akrapovič system and the Brembo master cylinder from the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. After one day of testing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, I was only two seconds off my fastest time on the 1290!” KTM 790 DUKE © Bryan Mills Testing on short circuits was one thing, but after the tire test at Pikes Peak – held over two days with the course split in half – Chris quickly discovered that a smaller bike required a much different riding style. In fact, a much more committed one. “That was the big thing I was surprised about testing,” Chris explains. “This new bike is awesome; so agile and so easy flipping it from side to side. But I guess I could be a bit lazier on the 1290 and use all that power and torque and then just brake hard. With the KTM 790 DUKE I can carry much more corner speed and I’m going to need that if I want to get the class record and challenge for the outright podium.” Chris points out that the middle section of the course – a lot of first to third gear switchbacks – is where he notices the power deficit between the 1290 and 790 more, requiring further commitment to make up the time. He’s got 20mph less top speed than the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, so with less power the risks are almost increased as Fillmore will need to ask more from the front tire. Not ideal, with sheer drops surrounding parts of the course … “All the heat is on the sides of tire after riding, none in the center. Which says a lot,” says Chris. “I need to be smoother. Less aggressive with the bike. I have to be a bit more methodical, think about things and concentrate on corner speed but I’m limited on grip, so don’t want to push the front.” “Last year, my testing times weren’t the fastest, but why I think I did good in the race was that I was consistent across the whole distance and course. With a whole year under my belt, I know the course a bit better – especially the bottom part which is a lot of fourth and fifth gear corners. The 790 will be well at home there.” Chris Fillmore (USA) KTM 790 DUKE © Brapp Snapps Media With the bike arriving in the US later this year, Chris is fortunate to be ahead of his countrymen in spending a lot of time with the KTM 790 DUKE. So, what does he like the most? “I like the handling. It’s strong point and it feels like a small bike; compact and maneuverable. Even pulling it off the stand and moving it around the garage is easy. I like the way it looks, too. At first, I wasn’t a fan of how it looks going from concept to production, but now I like it more than the 1290.” Photos: Brapp Snapps Media | Bryan Mills Video: KTM
  2. Malagrotta: The house of Cairoli Take a trip to the ‘source’ of nine FIM Motocross World Championships and where Tony Cairoli was able to become an MXGP legend. “I first rode this track at the end of 2003 and since then a lot of laps every year; I never counted … but it must be so many thousands …” Tony Cairoli takes a wistful look out and towards the peak of the small hill where the bulk of the Malagrotta hard-pack is sprawled. Malagrotta (ITA) © Marco Campelli/Sebas Romero The 32-year-old MXGP star has opened the gates to his test track and a facility he co-runs with Red Bull KTM Team Manager Claudio De Carli for the 2019 KTM SX launch. The circuit is located west of the center of Rome “just five minutes away” he optimistically says, forgetting about the Italian capital’s traffic. Malagrotta welcomes not only two large groups of journalists and testers but also AMA ace Ryan Dungey, who enthusiastically takes to the course on several of the new SX-Fs (450, 350 & 250) and SXs (250, 150 & 125). The hard ground at the top that houses various turns and jumps (an ‘orange-painted’ bar sits next to the start straight that has been taken over by KTM’s technical and hospitality setup for the event) before a dramatic slope plunges downhill and into a rough sandy section. The split means that Cairoli and his Italian team effectively have two tracks in one. Ryan Dungey (USA) © Marco Campelli/Sebas Romero Although temporary residence in Belgium at the start of his career was necessary for training and to master the characteristics of sandy terrain, Malagrotta has been a home base for virtually all of his Grand Prix career; fifteen years, 223 Grands Prix, over 80 wins and 101 podiums. “It hasn’t changed too much over the years to be honest and a special part of the track was always that sand at the bottom which means the ground varies and you get different kinds of bumps. It’s really nice for testing and training.” “The place is big so it needs quite a bit of maintenance,” he adds. “The track is hard on the top section and you need to work a lot to make it loose and more towards a GP-style with ruts and bumps. It is a lot of work to keep the moisture inside. Some of the track is pretty rocky and then requires more work to keep it loose. It’s cool that it’s a good mix.” Malagrotta might have some diversity but there is little doubt that #222 knows every knuckle and bump. “For sure it is boring sometimes because I’ve done so many laps here but it is important for me to be able to come, train and then leave,” he says. “I’m also a co-owner here so I like to make sure the track is in good condition for people that want to turn up, ride and train. We’ve made some investment over the years and keeping the track maintained is probably the biggest. We don’t have too many amateurs in this area of Italy, especially compared with the north and places like Ottobiano and Dorno that also attracts foreign riders from France, Germany and Austria. But there is a lot of potential with this track and when I stop racing then I will work to bring more people here from around Europe because it is close to Rome and just over five minutes to the city and twenty from the airport. It’s in a good location and the weather is good normally. It is never frozen in the winter.” Tony Cairoli (ITA) © Ray Archer Cairoli is not slowing with his usage of Malagrotta. In fact, the stiff challenge from Red Bull KTM teammate Jeffrey Herlings in this year’s MXGP title fight means he has to keep focused and keep looking for improvements to somehow dent the Dutchman’s form. The track is also the platform for winter tests and where De Carli and his crew honed the KTM 450 SX-F last season to enable Tony to grasp another world crown. “I have been riding here more than ever because I am in Belgium less these days,” Cairoli reveals. “We always decide our setup for the year when we test here. We know the dirt very well so this is ideal for comparison tests and the mixture of bumps means we have an important variety.” Considering his familiarity with Malagrotta (something that De Carli’s latest protégé Jorge Prado is learning; the MX2 GP winner was also circulating with his KTM 250 SX-F) Cairoli was quick to provide his evaluation. “The hardest part is the bottom section; the sand and the ruts combined with the downhill and the bumps. It is also my favorite!” What about a ‘neutral’ view? Cairoli might have a love-sometimes-hate relationship with Malagrotta but how does a debutant see it? “I thought the track was awesome,” grins tester and former British Championship racer Dave Willet. “Inclines are always a winner, cambers, sand … the only criticism is that some of the down ramps need to be made bigger. It needs to be the minimum of a length of a bike and they weren’t! But I’d take that track all day, it was a lot of fun and nice to put a lot of laps in.” [embedded content] Photos: Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero | Ray Archer Video: Luca Piffaretti
  3. Malagrotta: The house of Cairoli

    Malagrotta: The house of Cairoli Take a trip to the ‘source’ of nine FIM Motocross World Championships and where Tony Cairoli was able to become an MXGP legend. “I first rode this track at the end of 2003 and since then a lot of laps every year; I never counted … but it must be so many thousands …” Tony Cairoli takes a wistful look out and towards the peak of the small hill where the bulk of the Malagrotta hard-pack is sprawled. Malagrotta (ITA) © Marco Campelli/Sebas Romero The 32-year-old MXGP star has opened the gates to his test track and a facility he co-runs with Red Bull KTM Team Manager Claudio De Carli for the 2019 KTM SX launch. The circuit is located west of the center of Rome “just five minutes away” he optimistically says, forgetting about the Italian capital’s traffic. Malagrotta welcomes not only two large groups of journalists and testers but also AMA ace Ryan Dungey, who enthusiastically takes to the course on several of the new SX-Fs (450, 350 & 250) and SXs (250, 150 & 125). The hard ground at the top that houses various turns and jumps (an ‘orange-painted’ bar sits next to the start straight that has been taken over by KTM’s technical and hospitality setup for the event) before a dramatic slope plunges downhill and into a rough sandy section. The split means that Cairoli and his Italian team effectively have two tracks in one. Ryan Dungey (USA) © Marco Campelli/Sebas Romero Although temporary residence in Belgium at the start of his career was necessary for training and to master the characteristics of sandy terrain, Malagrotta has been a home base for virtually all of his Grand Prix career; fifteen years, 223 Grands Prix, over 80 wins and 101 podiums. “It hasn’t changed too much over the years to be honest and a special part of the track was always that sand at the bottom which means the ground varies and you get different kinds of bumps. It’s really nice for testing and training.” “The place is big so it needs quite a bit of maintenance,” he adds. “The track is hard on the top section and you need to work a lot to make it loose and more towards a GP-style with ruts and bumps. It is a lot of work to keep the moisture inside. Some of the track is pretty rocky and then requires more work to keep it loose. It’s cool that it’s a good mix.” Malagrotta might have some diversity but there is little doubt that #222 knows every knuckle and bump. “For sure it is boring sometimes because I’ve done so many laps here but it is important for me to be able to come, train and then leave,” he says. “I’m also a co-owner here so I like to make sure the track is in good condition for people that want to turn up, ride and train. We’ve made some investment over the years and keeping the track maintained is probably the biggest. We don’t have too many amateurs in this area of Italy, especially compared with the north and places like Ottobiano and Dorno that also attracts foreign riders from France, Germany and Austria. But there is a lot of potential with this track and when I stop racing then I will work to bring more people here from around Europe because it is close to Rome and just over five minutes to the city and twenty from the airport. It’s in a good location and the weather is good normally. It is never frozen in the winter.” Tony Cairoli (ITA) © Ray Archer Cairoli is not slowing with his usage of Malagrotta. In fact, the stiff challenge from Red Bull KTM teammate Jeffrey Herlings in this year’s MXGP title fight means he has to keep focused and keep looking for improvements to somehow dent the Dutchman’s form. The track is also the platform for winter tests and where De Carli and his crew honed the KTM 450 SX-F last season to enable Tony to grasp another world crown. “I have been riding here more than ever because I am in Belgium less these days,” Cairoli reveals. “We always decide our setup for the year when we test here. We know the dirt very well so this is ideal for comparison tests and the mixture of bumps means we have an important variety.” Considering his familiarity with Malagrotta (something that De Carli’s latest protégé Jorge Prado is learning; the MX2 GP winner was also circulating with his KTM 250 SX-F) Cairoli was quick to provide his evaluation. “The hardest part is the bottom section; the sand and the ruts combined with the downhill and the bumps. It is also my favorite!” What about a ‘neutral’ view? Cairoli might have a love-sometimes-hate relationship with Malagrotta but how does a debutant see it? “I thought the track was awesome,” grins tester and former British Championship racer Dave Willet. “Inclines are always a winner, cambers, sand … the only criticism is that some of the down ramps need to be made bigger. It needs to be the minimum of a length of a bike and they weren’t! But I’d take that track all day, it was a lot of fun and nice to put a lot of laps in.” [embedded content] Photos: Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero | Ray Archer Video: Luca Piffaretti
  4. Ultimate Race: The KTM ADVENTURE RALLY challenge awaits Stony ridges, sandy landscapes and challenging dunes; that’s what competitors of the recently announced Ultimate Race will relish in at next year’s Merzouga Rally. A concept that gives the fastest amateurs from the KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES around the globe the chance to compete in a world-renowned event in a dedicated class, with full support from KTM and aboard the brand new, hotly anticipated KTM 790 ADVENTURE R, the Ultimate Race is certainly a special opportunity. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R Prototype © Marcin Kin The Merzouga Rally, which is part of the Dakar series, is a five-day event plus a prolog that races through the desert of Morocco and is a great challenge for both professional and amateur riders. Navigation is key, as is the ability to adapt to the changing terrain and racing environment. Not for the faint hearted, but riders will be greeted with incredible landscapes and the READY TO RACE feeling in his or her soul. Each of the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES, which take place around the world this year, will host a qualifying stage and the top two from each qualifier aboard a twin cylinder KTM ADVENTURE bike will be given the opportunity to compete Merzouga in the Ultimate Race. Fully supported with flights, accommodation, entry, bike, race service and more by KTM, the winners will not be disappointed. They will also enjoy coaching from some of the world’s finest and fastest bike athletes, with Quinn Cody and Chris Birch already announced, to assist in their quest to race the terrain of Merzouga. A nice step up from the organized tours of the KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES, where riders enjoy epic dirt roads and more with like-minded riders. In addition, the winner of the Ultimate Race will be awarded with an incredible prize. There’s a lot to play for. Ahead of the big announcement we got to take the prototype KTM 790 ADVENTURE R out to the Merzouga Rally this year, to check-out some of the incredible terrain, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. More details about the Ultimate Race in its official launch video … [embedded content] And of course, check out these cool images. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R Prototype © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin Video: Eros Girotti/Filmer Force Productions
  5. Ultimate Race: The KTM ADVENTURE RALLY challenge awaits

    Ultimate Race: The KTM ADVENTURE RALLY challenge awaits Stony ridges, sandy landscapes and challenging dunes; that’s what competitors of the recently announced Ultimate Race will relish in at next year’s Merzouga Rally. A concept that gives the fastest amateurs from the KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES around the globe the chance to compete in a world-renowned event in a dedicated class, with full support from KTM and aboard the brand new, hotly anticipated KTM 790 ADVENTURE R, the Ultimate Race is certainly a special opportunity. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R Prototype © Marcin Kin The Merzouga Rally, which is part of the Dakar series, is a five-day event plus a prolog that races through the desert of Morocco and is a great challenge for both professional and amateur riders. Navigation is key, as is the ability to adapt to the changing terrain and racing environment. Not for the faint hearted, but riders will be greeted with incredible landscapes and the READY TO RACE feeling in his or her soul. Each of the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES, which take place around the world this year, will host a qualifying stage and the top two from each qualifier aboard a twin cylinder KTM ADVENTURE bike will be given the opportunity to compete Merzouga in the Ultimate Race. Fully supported with flights, accommodation, entry, bike, race service and more by KTM, the winners will not be disappointed. They will also enjoy coaching from some of the world’s finest and fastest bike athletes, with Quinn Cody and Chris Birch already announced, to assist in their quest to race the terrain of Merzouga. A nice step up from the organized tours of the KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES, where riders enjoy epic dirt roads and more with like-minded riders. In addition, the winner of the Ultimate Race will be awarded with an incredible prize. There’s a lot to play for. Ahead of the big announcement we got to take the prototype KTM 790 ADVENTURE R out to the Merzouga Rally this year, to check-out some of the incredible terrain, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. More details about the Ultimate Race in its official launch video … [embedded content] And of course, check out these cool images. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R Prototype © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin Video: Eros Girotti/Filmer Force Productions
  6. THE FIRST HUSQVARNA WORLD CHAMP

    Apple-cheeked Bill Nilsson was nicknamed ‘Buffalo Bill’ because he showed no mercy to his competitors. The fiery Swede was a tough Viking – never afraid of a challenge. Bill rode with the precision of a surgeon, but his main assets were his short temper and his stubbornness to never give up. That's why Bill Nilsson was so efficient, so successful and ever since he straddled a factory Husqvarna was a stellar Grand Prix performer on the track... It was in the beginning of the 50s that Bill Nilsson started riding motocross. He was already a good stuntman – great at wheelies, which require a good sense of balance. Ten years later, ‘Buffalo Bill’ was hired by Husqvarna to ride for them during the 1960 world championship season. Everyone in the town of Huskvarna was convinced that their new factory rider would be the one to count on. True, there was no guarantee, but everything pointed in the right direction. Reigning European champ Rolf Tibblin was riding the second big-bore factory machine, backing up the passionate Bill for the title. The Nilsson family lived on Rörvägen ‘Tube Road’, in Hallstavik and there were few tubes that couldn't be bent by super mechanic Bill. Up until now, he had built and tuned his own machines, which lead to his first world championship title in 1957. “But now, I devote more time to riding and practicing around my home grounds in Roslagen, north of Stockholm,” Bill told me in the 60s. “The fact that I received my Husqvarna from the factory a full month ahead of the start of the season, made things a lot easier. I got used to its performance and could adjust minor details to suit my riding style. After 10 years in the saddle I had never been so well prepared.” Being just 1.70 metres tall, Bill possessed a stocky and robust body.He looked even smaller when he wore his large leather pants, and the helmet hanging on one side made him look even funnier. But once straddling his machine, there was little to joke about. Where the lack of experience penalised him, his determination and desire to win made up for it. His riding style was based on stamina and talent that allowed him to face obstacles with determination. His extremely tough character led him never to accept defeat. He wascomfortable in all terrains, be it in the mud, in the water pools or over jumps and hills. Bill was armed with great self-esteem and had a mind to go far in his career. The 1960 championship lasted for four months and a couple of weeks. The season opener came at the end of April in Sittendorf, where a decisive event would reveal what everybody had been up to during the winter months. In mixed weather between a burning sun and freezing hailstorms, 30,000 spectators watched 37 riders from seven countries compete. The course was 1.7 kilometres long and had to be covered 15 times in each moto - a hard task even for the well trained and almost impossible for those who weren't in shape. Husqvarna soon proved to be in top condition – Rolf Tibblin won the first heat while Bill Nilsson came third. In the decisive moments of the second race, Tibblin took another win while Nilsson was second this time around. A double victory for Swedes and the domestic brand, what an eye opener! By mid-May, Vésoul in France hosted the next Grand Prix. This was definitely not Nilsson's weekend as he broke down in both legs. First, he had an eroding spark plug, while a broken magneto stopped his second outing. But Husqvarna went on to win anyway - with Tibblin. Two weeks later, the Swedes competed on their home turf, battling for positions in Hyllinge. Eight nations appeared in front of 15,000 spectators. Bill fell in the first heat but managed to come back and filled third spot. In the final, nobody could touch him and he took the overall victory - his first of the year. “I was so pissed off after my crash,” hot-tempered Bill said. "Consequently, I wanted revenge in the second leg." Italian Imola is a classic motorcycle venue, both for motocross, road racing and formula one. Bill Nilsson came third overall and now shared the lead in the world championship standings with 18 points, tied with Sten Lundin. In Bielstein, Germany, Bill Nilsson injured his foot and had to abandon the race, but a week later he made up for the loss by winning the British GP at Hawkstone Park. He was back in the world championship running again - with 26 points. "It was a Hitchcock thriller in England,” Bill said with a grin. 50,000 fans were present to watch the Dutch Grand Prix at the sandy track in Bergharen. Husqvarna shared a double victory, with Nilsson first and Tibblin second. A great day for Sweden! The Swedish dominance in the 500cc class was overwhelming that year. Out of the six best riders, five of them were from the Scandinavian countries. In Namur, Belgium, this proved to be a representative fact – the four top riders came from Sweden. It was like a playground next door. Bill Nilsson had his chance to secure his second title and Husqvarna's first world championship ever, should things go his way - and it did. Monsieur Nilsson took his fourth win and beat his opponent Lundin by 30 seconds. This result forced the factory to print a fan-card with a picture of Bill winning in Namur. It is today very valuable and sought-after, especially if you happen to find a signed copy. A famous quote came from Bill when he was to sign his autograph, “I never sign my name below that of Sten Lundin’s,” Bill said in earnest. And that was it. The ninth and last round was organized in Ettelbruck, Luxemburg. In a water-filled ditch, both Nilsson and Tibblin had problems when a clogged ventilation hose for the petrol tank caused their retirement. Both riders had to abandon the race while Sten Lundin took the last laurel of the 1960 world championship, but he was still two points down on the leader. Bill Nilsson also won his national championship in great style, taking three wins out of a possible four. Advertising was easy for Husqvarna at the end of this thrilling season; Nilsson first, Tibblin fourth. Life was smiling at the world champions and there were gorgeous headlines in these Good Old Times!
  7. 3 things you have to know about the 2019 KTM SX motocross bikes Somehow those orange motocrossers have taken another step in performance for 2019 so we asked the wizards in R&D what is in store for riders eying a new dirtbike. KTM SX MY2019 range © Sebas Romero Technicians and engineers are always pursuing ‘something better’. This is certainly the case within KTM’s relentless R&D Department. It would take a large slice of creativity and effort to improve the 2018 SX motocross range; don’t forget that the flagship KTM 450 SX-F grabbed titles in Supercross and finished 1-2 in MXGP last year (the KTM 250 SX-F also winning the MX2 World Championship) so the technical package was proven at the highest level of sport and KTM’s ‘mantra’ of READY TO RACE means it wouldn’t be any other way. In fact, Head of Engine Offroad & Motocross R&D, Michael Viertlmayr, says: “Without the approval of our racing athletes we do not make any major changes to our bikes. That is a clear statement from KTM.” So, if Ryan Dungey (still very active with KTM and also in the saddle), Tony Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings, Glenn Coldenhoff, Pauls Jonass have provided some suggestions and tweaks then you can be sure they have been implemented on this new spectrum of SX machines. The line-up actually involves three 4-stroke SX-F models – 450, 350 and 250 – and three SX 2-strokes: 250, 150, 125. Practically every style, taste and preference is catered for. But what else have KTM discovered? A dirtbike is not a simple or cheap investment so the 2019 offerings have to warrant the cost and effort to produce as well as entice riders that the latest gains on the dyno and through copious test runs are worth it. KTM Product Manager Offroad Joachim Sauer hints at the general direction of the SXs: “When it comes to performance then our goal was not to drastically improve it but rather aim for more rideability and more efficiency.” How was that done …? KTM 125 SX MY2019 © Sebas Romero 1) Whack on the gas and wipe that tear away: Rideability At the heart of KTM’s objective to make the SX models more rideable – almost more friendly with that fierce market-leading power-to-weight ratio – is a series of modifications, but perhaps the most significant is the new frame. Made from chromium molybdenum steel sections with a longer aluminum subframe and cast aluminum swingarm (with a longer chain adjustment slot) extra stiffness is the goal. “The frame has been drastically improved to get the agility on one side but still keep the straight-line stability and the combination of the longer swingarm means the riders can now shorten or lengthen the wheelbase to make the bike turn easier or make it more stable on the straight,” Sauer says. Does it work? British test rider and former racer Dave Willet was one of the first to take the SX and SX-Fs for a spin at the recent launch in Rome. “KTM talked about stiffening the frame so that it doesn’t twist and that’s the key,” he says. “Perhaps the flex in the last frame just took away some of that capability for the rider to be pinpoint-accurate in maneuvering the bike. Where they have made that strengthening and eradicated that twist means that it now glides across the track. And this is something that can be said for all the 4-strokes but even more so on the 450.” “With the KTM 450 SX-F being one of the fastest bikes on the market it was hard to move it in the past … but not any more: the frame, swingarm, linkage, suspension all compliments the engine force.” KTM 450 SX-F frame © KTM Add revised WP Suspension, items like a newly-formed stiffer triple clamp, a lighter clutch with steel components and Pankl engineering and it’s clear that these SXs will work and feel easier than ever before. This is essential for a motorcycle with the performance potential of the KTM 450 SX-F. Willet: “KTM have concentrated on letting the 450 move around the track with ease and it takes less physical strength to do that; you don’t have to manhandle it as much. It means the market for this motorcycle has now increased massively.” KTM 450 SX-F MY2019 © Sebas Romero 2) Boy, you´re (not) gonna carry that weight: Power KTM have starved their SXs. More weight has been shed, and in the interests of rideability careful attention to engine internals and power delivery has been made to help the ‘loss’. “We worked on every single model in terms of improving power delivery in combination with cylinders and cylinder heads on the 4-strokes and exhaust systems, airbox and EMS and electronics,” Sauer says. “It is one entire package to make the efficiency of the engine better. It doesn’t make sense to improve the peak performance of a 450; we have 63 horses, so the secret is about bringing the power down to the ground and there we made a major step forward.” “Overall 550g was lost on the KTM 350 SX-F and 300g on the KTM 250 SX-F,” Viertlmayr says of the powerplants. “Weight dropped by 200g on the KTM 450 SX-F cylinder head alone.” KTM 450 SX-F engine © KTM DS clutches and clever use of steel components and the fantastic time-saving advantages of using 3D printing technology means that KTM have reacted quickly to ideas. “The clutch components are made of steel and we have a weight drop; this is the old story of smart engineering and it is the same with the steel chassis because steel can be lighter than aluminum if you do it right,” advocates Viertlmayr. Re-arrangement of elements such as the radiators, and engine position (higher crankshaft on the KTM 125/150 SX) helps towards more centralization. New exhaust silencers and headers across the range have assisted in the weight-performance battle. KTM 250 SX MY2019 © Sebas Romero 3) Something in the way she moves: Ergonomics “We did not want to make something completely new because the previous bike was already pretty close to optimum,” Sauer claims of the freshly-sculpted SXs. “We got a lot of feedback from our factory riders about the edges where we could get better and we did not turn the bike upside-down.” The SXs have not been turned upside down but they have been greatly honed. Designers at KISKA have focused on the contact points between rider and motorcycle and Dave Willet was able to rubber-stamp their work. “Rider ‘friction’ sounds like another sales pitch but you really can feel it,” he offers. “There is less contact in certain areas and the way you now have to grip the bike and with the sub-frame being slimmer allows you to transfer your body weight more easily. When you come into a turn standing up then you can easily shift your weight forwards or backwards. It is key across the range but it is more apparent on the 450 because of the size of the bike and how fast it is.” Other examples of how KTM have thought of the rider include the new KTM 250 SX pipe. Vastly reduced in size (Viertlmayr: “Our test riders always used to complain that they had to change the pipes five times a year.”) but with oval cross sections in the bends means that performance has been maintained and even boosted. The SXs also have a new seat that is softer and more resistant: a feat that was achieved by careful analysis of every other option on the market and also comments by the pros athletes that are logging more bike time than most. KTM 450 SX-F MY2019 © Marco Campelli For more information about the 2019 SX range and for details about particular models visit www.ktm.com. Photos: Sebas Romero | Marco Campelli | KTM
  8. 3 things you have to know about the 2019 KTM SX motocross bikes Somehow those orange motocrossers have taken another step in performance for 2019 so we asked the wizards in R&D what is in store for riders eying a new dirtbike. KTM SX MY2019 range © Sebas Romero Technicians and engineers are always pursuing ‘something better’. This is certainly the case within KTM’s relentless R&D Department. It would take a large slice of creativity and effort to improve the 2018 SX motocross range; don’t forget that the flagship KTM 450 SX-F grabbed titles in Supercross and finished 1-2 in MXGP last year (the KTM 250 SX-F also winning the MX2 World Championship) so the technical package was proven at the highest level of sport and KTM’s ‘mantra’ of READY TO RACE means it wouldn’t be any other way. In fact, Head of Engine Offroad & Motocross R&D, Michael Viertlmayr, says: “Without the approval of our racing athletes we do not make any major changes to our bikes. That is a clear statement from KTM.” So, if Ryan Dungey (still very active with KTM and also in the saddle), Tony Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings, Glenn Coldenhoff, Pauls Jonass have provided some suggestions and tweaks then you can be sure they have been implemented on this new spectrum of SX machines. The line-up actually involves three 4-stroke SX-F models – 450, 350 and 250 – and three SX 2-strokes: 250, 150, 125. Practically every style, taste and preference is catered for. But what else have KTM discovered? A dirtbike is not a simple or cheap investment so the 2019 offerings have to warrant the cost and effort to produce as well as entice riders that the latest gains on the dyno and through copious test runs are worth it. KTM Product Manager Offroad Joachim Sauer hints at the general direction of the SXs: “When it comes to performance then our goal was not to drastically improve it but rather aim for more rideability and more efficiency.” How was that done …? KTM 125 SX MY2019 © Sebas Romero 1) Whack on the gas and wipe that tear away: Rideability At the heart of KTM’s objective to make the SX models more rideable – almost more friendly with that fierce market-leading power-to-weight ratio – is a series of modifications, but perhaps the most significant is the new frame. Made from chromium molybdenum steel sections with a longer aluminum subframe and cast aluminum swingarm (with a longer chain adjustment slot) extra stiffness is the goal. “The frame has been drastically improved to get the agility on one side but still keep the straight-line stability and the combination of the longer swingarm means the riders can now shorten or lengthen the wheelbase to make the bike turn easier or make it more stable on the straight,” Sauer says. Does it work? British test rider and former racer Dave Willet was one of the first to take the SX and SX-Fs for a spin at the recent launch in Rome. “KTM talked about stiffening the frame so that it doesn’t twist and that’s the key,” he says. “Perhaps the flex in the last frame just took away some of that capability for the rider to be pinpoint-accurate in maneuvering the bike. Where they have made that strengthening and eradicated that twist means that it now glides across the track. And this is something that can be said for all the 4-strokes but even more so on the 450.” “With the KTM 450 SX-F being one of the fastest bikes on the market it was hard to move it in the past … but not any more: the frame, swingarm, linkage, suspension all compliments the engine force.” KTM 450 SX-F frame © KTM Add revised WP Suspension, items like a newly-formed stiffer triple clamp, a lighter clutch with steel components and Pankl engineering and it’s clear that these SXs will work and feel easier than ever before. This is essential for a motorcycle with the performance potential of the KTM 450 SX-F. Willet: “KTM have concentrated on letting the 450 move around the track with ease and it takes less physical strength to do that; you don’t have to manhandle it as much. It means the market for this motorcycle has now increased massively.” KTM 450 SX-F MY2019 © Sebas Romero 2) Boy, you´re (not) gonna carry that weight: Power KTM have starved their SXs. More weight has been shed, and in the interests of rideability careful attention to engine internals and power delivery has been made to help the ‘loss’. “We worked on every single model in terms of improving power delivery in combination with cylinders and cylinder heads on the 4-strokes and exhaust systems, airbox and EMS and electronics,” Sauer says. “It is one entire package to make the efficiency of the engine better. It doesn’t make sense to improve the peak performance of a 450; we have 63 horses, so the secret is about bringing the power down to the ground and there we made a major step forward.” “Overall 550g was lost on the KTM 350 SX-F and 300g on the KTM 250 SX-F,” Viertlmayr says of the powerplants. “Weight dropped by 200g on the KTM 450 SX-F cylinder head alone.” KTM 450 SX-F engine © KTM DS clutches and clever use of steel components and the fantastic time-saving advantages of using 3D printing technology means that KTM have reacted quickly to ideas. “The clutch components are made of steel and we have a weight drop; this is the old story of smart engineering and it is the same with the steel chassis because steel can be lighter than aluminum if you do it right,” advocates Viertlmayr. Re-arrangement of elements such as the radiators, and engine position (higher crankshaft on the KTM 125/150 SX) helps towards more centralization. New exhaust silencers and headers across the range have assisted in the weight-performance battle. KTM 250 SX MY2019 © Sebas Romero 3) Something in the way she moves: Ergonomics “We did not want to make something completely new because the previous bike was already pretty close to optimum,” Sauer claims of the freshly-sculpted SXs. “We got a lot of feedback from our factory riders about the edges where we could get better and we did not turn the bike upside-down.” The SXs have not been turned upside down but they have been greatly honed. Designers at KISKA have focused on the contact points between rider and motorcycle and Dave Willet was able to rubber-stamp their work. “Rider ‘friction’ sounds like another sales pitch but you really can feel it,” he offers. “There is less contact in certain areas and the way you now have to grip the bike and with the sub-frame being slimmer allows you to transfer your body weight more easily. When you come into a turn standing up then you can easily shift your weight forwards or backwards. It is key across the range but it is more apparent on the 450 because of the size of the bike and how fast it is.” Other examples of how KTM have thought of the rider include the new KTM 250 SX pipe. Vastly reduced in size (Viertlmayr: “Our test riders always used to complain that they had to change the pipes five times a year.”) but with oval cross sections in the bends means that performance has been maintained and even boosted. The SXs also have a new seat that is softer and more resistant: a feat that was achieved by careful analysis of every other option on the market and also comments by the pros athletes that are logging more bike time than most. KTM 450 SX-F MY2019 © Marco Campelli For more information about the 2019 SX range and for details about particular models visit www.ktm.com. Photos: Sebas Romero | Marco Campelli | KTM
  9. The perfect weekend for Luca Grünwald KTM has quickly become a common sight at the forefront of the extremely exciting World Supersport 300 championship, and among others Luca Grünwald has been one of the guys piloting the fast KTM RC 390 R. We shadowed the rider of Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team around the Assen circuit for the second round of the World Championship. Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Wednesday, 8.41 pm In the Fiat Ducato he borrowed from his dad, 23-year-old Luca Grünwald arrives at the Dutch TT Circuit in Assen, he parks the van neatly between the motorhomes. After nine long hours on the road the German World Supersport 300 rider arrives at his destination where he’s set to compete in only his second race in the championship. “Last year I was on a Superbike in the IDM Championship, but it was unclear whether or not there would even be a German championship to race in this season. When the offer of joining the World Supersport 300 came up, I was in doubt for a while, but in the end I took the chance. This class is so competitive and if you can show what you’re worth here, you might just get a shot at taking a step up into the higher classes in the WorldSBK paddock.” Grünwald has seen quite a few race paddocks over the years. Even though he’s only 23 years old, he’s been involved in the racing world for some time now. He started to make a name in 2007 when he won the ADAC Junior Cup. He then strung together success after success, because in 2010 and 2012 he respectively won the German 125cc and Moto3 championship. Internationally he burst onto the scene in 2011 when he got a shot at the 125cc World Championship. “It’s kind of funny, but we’re seven years down the road and this weekend I’m pretty much back to where it all started for me with my first Grand Prix. I debuted on this Assen track on Freudenberg Racing Team’s KTM 125 GP machine.” Thursday, 3.32 pm So far it’s been a quiet affair for the three time German champ. It’s only until later on the Thursday afternoon the World Supersport 300 riders are called to action, for a scrutineering, mind you. Freudenberg Racing Team’s mechanics roll in the KTM RC 390 R, but it’s Grünwald’s own responsibility to deliver his gear up for scrutiny. He quickly grabs his race leathers and crash helmet from the team truck and gets in line. To kill time he chats with someone he knows from back when he used to race for Kiefer Racing. Dutchman Peter Bom was Grünwalds chief mechanic when he raced fulltime in the Grand Prix’. “Obviously it was a dream true for me, but unfortunately it was only short-lived. The bike wasn’t the easiest to get your head around, and it was very difficult to sort out the front-end feel. We never really made it out of there and in the GPs that means things can move very quickly. You only get one shot to show what you’re worth and that pressure adds up. It’s a shame when one year later you’re sidelined, but I can’t say I’m not glad I raced in the Grand Prix’, even if it was just the one season. You learn so much.” Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Just as the Waldkraiburg man passes inspection, the track is opened for track walks. Together with teammate Max Kappler he does a few laps on the Assen TT Circuit on a bicycle to get the right mindset for the coming days. “I believe things could get very exciting who comes out on top here, because Assen’s layout makes it very difficult to gap other riders. It’s going to be a close call, and I hope to be right there at the front,” Grünwald says. Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Friday, 11.35 am Twenty minutes left on the clock before Luca Grünwald gets his first outing on the Assen circuit aboard the KTM RC 390 R for the first thirty minute long free practice. He’s just donned his leathers and picks up a sheet with the track layout. “I close my eyes and imagine the track in front of me. I can then work on sections of track that I need to improve at. We don’t get much time to train on track in World Supersport 300, so it’s important to be in it from the word go. If you don’t manage to secure a good starting position, you’ll have your work cut out for you in the race,” the German claims. Because of the scarcity of track time for riders in the class, problems can spell serious trouble. “Say you run into a problem in FP2, that needs setup attention, you’re going to have to wait until Saturday to try it out. And on Saturday you only have a fifteen-minute Superpole session to make it work. And Superpole is such a crucial session in a racing weekend, making adjustments involves some serious risk.” Getting to know new tracks is also hampered by the limited track time they get. “Three of the eight tracks we go to I’ve never raced at, meaning Donington Park, Magny-Cours, and Portimão. I’m going to have to spend a lot of time figuring out the right lines. If you were to crash or get a technical problem, you’re in a world of pain for the rest of the weekend.” Grünwald is hardly content after the first free practice, posting the nineteenth fastest time. With 1´54.767 he’s a whopping 2.695 seconds slower than fastest man Koen Meuffels, who wrote history at Aragon two weeks before, granting KTM their first World Supersport 300 victory. Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Friday, 6.07 pm Second practice sees some serious improvement for Grünwald with eleventh place, but the results he’s aiming for don’t come easy. To make it into Superpole 2 directly he’s going to have to get into the top ten. So the German rider is going to have to put in some effort tomorrow in order to get that starting position at the front. Right before dinner – a full team affair at the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team tent – the 23-year-old is very open about his future. “You hope you get to race again every single year, but you can never take it for granted. There have been dozens of really fast riders who had to quit the sport, simply because they weren’t able to get the budget to go racing together. If you don’t have the right sponsor who will stick with you, it could all be over in the blink of an eye. I don’t have sponsors like that right now, so a few less than perfect seasons and I’m done for.” Only the lucky few bring home the bacon just from racing, so Luca Grünwald always keeps in mind there is a world outside the racing paddock. He was in school to become a car mechanic, but then he came across an interesting opportunity. “After finishing school last year, I was out looking for a job, when a friend of mine told me KTM’s R&D Department was looking for a development rider. That’s how I came to work for KTM.” Having him racing a KTM right now as well was purely coincidental. “When I first started working for KTM I was still racing a Suzuki. They didn’t mind, and I’m glad they didn’t. They felt my work for them shouldn’t affect my racing efforts.” Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Saturday, 10.12 am The second day of racing dawns at the Assen track, but for the World Supersport 300 rider all is pretty easy going. If you make it through Superpole 1 – in which only to fastest two pass on through to Superpole 2 – and then partake in the second session along with ten fastest guys on track, you’re still out on track for a total of thirty minutes tops. And that’s only the two fastest riders, the other 37 only have a fifteen minute session to run on Saturday before they’re done for the day. “I would rather have had a third free practice; all we’re doing now is waiting. And we don’t really have time to try things out either, because there’s no way you are going try new thing in Superpole.” With about an hour before Grünwald suits up, he always goes for a run. “To keep my body up to temperature, that’s all that’s for. Get my heartrate up and warm up the muscles a bit. Focus comes automatically then, because when you just sit around your mind wanders off and you lose focus.” Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Apart from getting a workout in, the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team rider also uses the Saturday to analyze data and to look back footage from previous sessions, learning from that as he does. “We don’t carry a lot of sensors on the bike but I get plenty of information from the ones we do have. That way we can figure out where there’s progress to be made.” Grünwald manages to make it through Superpole 1 in the end, setting the second fastest time of the session. With 1´51.681 he’s allowed into qualifying with the ten fastest riders in the class, but he doesn’t improve on the time set in Superpole 1, leaving him in P9. That means he’s on the third row for the race; his second in World Supersport 300. Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Sunday, 1.56 pm “Tension rises fast on Sunday, and it starts to build early, too. Our warm up session starts at 8.50 am,” Grünwald explains. “I try to focus as much as I can, channeling all I’ve got into getting off the line well. In this class those first few laps are outright war. Contacts a plenty and you’ll find another rider on every possible line through every single corner. After that things ease up a bit and you can start working on a plan,” explains Grünwald. At Assen round ‘making a plan’ didn’t quite worked out for anyone. Right after the start a large and very wild leading pack forms. Setting a strategy and following it has no use whatsoever. Because a lot of riders received grid penalties, Grünwald was allowed to take off from sixth place, allowing him to slot in with the leading pack. He manages to stay with the leading bunch right until the final lap, striking in the final chicane – the Geert Timmer-bocht. With a small sprint to the line, Grünwald manages to outdrive fellow competitors Glenn van Straalen and Scott Deroue to the line, taking his first World Championship race victory! Luca Grünwald (#43, GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions A long lap of honor and few sips of champagne on the podium are to follow, after which the German gets dressed in absolute calm. The well-earnt cup is proudly displayed in the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team awning. “What an insane race that was. It was complete chaos again out there,” a smiling Grünwald says. “I knew I’d fit in well in the class, but I did not expect to be taking victory at only my second race in the championship. It does feel really good to be back on the rostrum again. If feels like forever since I last managed that, with my last victory in 2016.” Podium Supersport 300 Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Sunday, 7.03 pm There isn’t a great deal of time to celebrate his victory, because the Fiat Ducato is already set to leave the track again. Luca Grünwald has quite a trip ahead of him back home to Waldkraiburg. “Tomorrow is my day off, so I’m going to make the most of that now. I have completely lost track of how many people congratulated me in the paddock. I haven’t even had time to watch the race back myself, apart from that final lap. Everyone in the team kept showing me that on their phones.” The weekend after Assen Grünwald isn’t racing so he’s made plans to enjoy the weekend with a few friends. “I’m going to be celebrating with them!” Winning the Assen round has moved Grünwald up to second place in the championship, boding well for a good season for the German KTM rider. “I believe I should be able to get on the rostrum on a regular basis this season, and if I can manage that I’ll automatically be in with a shot at the championship. I’m certainly not going to tell you, right here, right now, I’m taking home that trophy at the end of the season, because so much can happen. We all have a long way to go yet, but I want to assure myself I have fun racing. And believe me when I say I’m having fun right now.” Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Luca Grünwald – still second in the championship – will be racing at Brno this weekend (from June 8 to June 10). With no German round on the calendar in World Supersport 300, the German KTM rider will go into the Czech round as his home race. Feel like following him? Check out his own Facebook page or that of the team. Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
  10. The perfect weekend for Luca Grünwald

    The perfect weekend for Luca Grünwald KTM has quickly become a common sight at the forefront of the extremely exciting World Supersport 300 championship, and among others Luca Grünwald has been one of the guys piloting the fast KTM RC 390 R. We shadowed the rider of Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team around the Assen circuit for the second round of the World Championship. Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Wednesday, 8.41 pm In the Fiat Ducato he borrowed from his dad, 23-year-old Luca Grünwald arrives at the Dutch TT Circuit in Assen, he parks the van neatly between the motorhomes. After nine long hours on the road the German World Supersport 300 rider arrives at his destination where he’s set to compete in only his second race in the championship. “Last year I was on a Superbike in the IDM Championship, but it was unclear whether or not there would even be a German championship to race in this season. When the offer of joining the World Supersport 300 came up, I was in doubt for a while, but in the end I took the chance. This class is so competitive and if you can show what you’re worth here, you might just get a shot at taking a step up into the higher classes in the WorldSBK paddock.” Grünwald has seen quite a few race paddocks over the years. Even though he’s only 23 years old, he’s been involved in the racing world for some time now. He started to make a name in 2007 when he won the ADAC Junior Cup. He then strung together success after success, because in 2010 and 2012 he respectively won the German 125cc and Moto3 championship. Internationally he burst onto the scene in 2011 when he got a shot at the 125cc World Championship. “It’s kind of funny, but we’re seven years down the road and this weekend I’m pretty much back to where it all started for me with my first Grand Prix. I debuted on this Assen track on Freudenberg Racing Team’s KTM 125 GP machine.” Thursday, 3.32 pm So far it’s been a quiet affair for the three time German champ. It’s only until later on the Thursday afternoon the World Supersport 300 riders are called to action, for a scrutineering, mind you. Freudenberg Racing Team’s mechanics roll in the KTM RC 390 R, but it’s Grünwald’s own responsibility to deliver his gear up for scrutiny. He quickly grabs his race leathers and crash helmet from the team truck and gets in line. To kill time he chats with someone he knows from back when he used to race for Kiefer Racing. Dutchman Peter Bom was Grünwalds chief mechanic when he raced fulltime in the Grand Prix’. “Obviously it was a dream true for me, but unfortunately it was only short-lived. The bike wasn’t the easiest to get your head around, and it was very difficult to sort out the front-end feel. We never really made it out of there and in the GPs that means things can move very quickly. You only get one shot to show what you’re worth and that pressure adds up. It’s a shame when one year later you’re sidelined, but I can’t say I’m not glad I raced in the Grand Prix’, even if it was just the one season. You learn so much.” Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Just as the Waldkraiburg man passes inspection, the track is opened for track walks. Together with teammate Max Kappler he does a few laps on the Assen TT Circuit on a bicycle to get the right mindset for the coming days. “I believe things could get very exciting who comes out on top here, because Assen’s layout makes it very difficult to gap other riders. It’s going to be a close call, and I hope to be right there at the front,” Grünwald says. Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Friday, 11.35 am Twenty minutes left on the clock before Luca Grünwald gets his first outing on the Assen circuit aboard the KTM RC 390 R for the first thirty minute long free practice. He’s just donned his leathers and picks up a sheet with the track layout. “I close my eyes and imagine the track in front of me. I can then work on sections of track that I need to improve at. We don’t get much time to train on track in World Supersport 300, so it’s important to be in it from the word go. If you don’t manage to secure a good starting position, you’ll have your work cut out for you in the race,” the German claims. Because of the scarcity of track time for riders in the class, problems can spell serious trouble. “Say you run into a problem in FP2, that needs setup attention, you’re going to have to wait until Saturday to try it out. And on Saturday you only have a fifteen-minute Superpole session to make it work. And Superpole is such a crucial session in a racing weekend, making adjustments involves some serious risk.” Getting to know new tracks is also hampered by the limited track time they get. “Three of the eight tracks we go to I’ve never raced at, meaning Donington Park, Magny-Cours, and Portimão. I’m going to have to spend a lot of time figuring out the right lines. If you were to crash or get a technical problem, you’re in a world of pain for the rest of the weekend.” Grünwald is hardly content after the first free practice, posting the nineteenth fastest time. With 1´54.767 he’s a whopping 2.695 seconds slower than fastest man Koen Meuffels, who wrote history at Aragon two weeks before, granting KTM their first World Supersport 300 victory. Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Friday, 6.07 pm Second practice sees some serious improvement for Grünwald with eleventh place, but the results he’s aiming for don’t come easy. To make it into Superpole 2 directly he’s going to have to get into the top ten. So the German rider is going to have to put in some effort tomorrow in order to get that starting position at the front. Right before dinner – a full team affair at the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team tent – the 23-year-old is very open about his future. “You hope you get to race again every single year, but you can never take it for granted. There have been dozens of really fast riders who had to quit the sport, simply because they weren’t able to get the budget to go racing together. If you don’t have the right sponsor who will stick with you, it could all be over in the blink of an eye. I don’t have sponsors like that right now, so a few less than perfect seasons and I’m done for.” Only the lucky few bring home the bacon just from racing, so Luca Grünwald always keeps in mind there is a world outside the racing paddock. He was in school to become a car mechanic, but then he came across an interesting opportunity. “After finishing school last year, I was out looking for a job, when a friend of mine told me KTM’s R&D Department was looking for a development rider. That’s how I came to work for KTM.” Having him racing a KTM right now as well was purely coincidental. “When I first started working for KTM I was still racing a Suzuki. They didn’t mind, and I’m glad they didn’t. They felt my work for them shouldn’t affect my racing efforts.” Luca Grünwald (GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Saturday, 10.12 am The second day of racing dawns at the Assen track, but for the World Supersport 300 rider all is pretty easy going. If you make it through Superpole 1 – in which only to fastest two pass on through to Superpole 2 – and then partake in the second session along with ten fastest guys on track, you’re still out on track for a total of thirty minutes tops. And that’s only the two fastest riders, the other 37 only have a fifteen minute session to run on Saturday before they’re done for the day. “I would rather have had a third free practice; all we’re doing now is waiting. And we don’t really have time to try things out either, because there’s no way you are going try new thing in Superpole.” With about an hour before Grünwald suits up, he always goes for a run. “To keep my body up to temperature, that’s all that’s for. Get my heartrate up and warm up the muscles a bit. Focus comes automatically then, because when you just sit around your mind wanders off and you lose focus.” Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Apart from getting a workout in, the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team rider also uses the Saturday to analyze data and to look back footage from previous sessions, learning from that as he does. “We don’t carry a lot of sensors on the bike but I get plenty of information from the ones we do have. That way we can figure out where there’s progress to be made.” Grünwald manages to make it through Superpole 1 in the end, setting the second fastest time of the session. With 1´51.681 he’s allowed into qualifying with the ten fastest riders in the class, but he doesn’t improve on the time set in Superpole 1, leaving him in P9. That means he’s on the third row for the race; his second in World Supersport 300. Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Sunday, 1.56 pm “Tension rises fast on Sunday, and it starts to build early, too. Our warm up session starts at 8.50 am,” Grünwald explains. “I try to focus as much as I can, channeling all I’ve got into getting off the line well. In this class those first few laps are outright war. Contacts a plenty and you’ll find another rider on every possible line through every single corner. After that things ease up a bit and you can start working on a plan,” explains Grünwald. At Assen round ‘making a plan’ didn’t quite worked out for anyone. Right after the start a large and very wild leading pack forms. Setting a strategy and following it has no use whatsoever. Because a lot of riders received grid penalties, Grünwald was allowed to take off from sixth place, allowing him to slot in with the leading pack. He manages to stay with the leading bunch right until the final lap, striking in the final chicane – the Geert Timmer-bocht. With a small sprint to the line, Grünwald manages to outdrive fellow competitors Glenn van Straalen and Scott Deroue to the line, taking his first World Championship race victory! Luca Grünwald (#43, GER) KTM RC 390 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions A long lap of honor and few sips of champagne on the podium are to follow, after which the German gets dressed in absolute calm. The well-earnt cup is proudly displayed in the Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team awning. “What an insane race that was. It was complete chaos again out there,” a smiling Grünwald says. “I knew I’d fit in well in the class, but I did not expect to be taking victory at only my second race in the championship. It does feel really good to be back on the rostrum again. If feels like forever since I last managed that, with my last victory in 2016.” Podium Supersport 300 Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Sunday, 7.03 pm There isn’t a great deal of time to celebrate his victory, because the Fiat Ducato is already set to leave the track again. Luca Grünwald has quite a trip ahead of him back home to Waldkraiburg. “Tomorrow is my day off, so I’m going to make the most of that now. I have completely lost track of how many people congratulated me in the paddock. I haven’t even had time to watch the race back myself, apart from that final lap. Everyone in the team kept showing me that on their phones.” The weekend after Assen Grünwald isn’t racing so he’s made plans to enjoy the weekend with a few friends. “I’m going to be celebrating with them!” Winning the Assen round has moved Grünwald up to second place in the championship, boding well for a good season for the German KTM rider. “I believe I should be able to get on the rostrum on a regular basis this season, and if I can manage that I’ll automatically be in with a shot at the championship. I’m certainly not going to tell you, right here, right now, I’m taking home that trophy at the end of the season, because so much can happen. We all have a long way to go yet, but I want to assure myself I have fun racing. And believe me when I say I’m having fun right now.” Luca Grünwald (GER) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Luca Grünwald – still second in the championship – will be racing at Brno this weekend (from June 8 to June 10). With no German round on the calendar in World Supersport 300, the German KTM rider will go into the Czech round as his home race. Feel like following him? Check out his own Facebook page or that of the team. Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
  11. Cairoli to find new limits with forthcoming F1 test Posted in People, Riding “Difficult and nervous …”, the MXGP World Champion talks exclusively about another special motorsport outing thanks to a Red Bull Racing Formula One test on June 6. Tony Cairoli interrupted his post-wedding plans at the end of 2017 to circulate with the factory Red Bull KTM MotoGPTM machine at Valencia. Now, the Grand Prix winning Sicilian is anticipating his first laps in a Formula One car at the Red Bull Ring this week. #222 will join the Red Bull Racing test team to take a two-year old RB12 for some flying laps in Austria. “I’ve pushed Red Bull quite a bit for this as I know it’s nice for me but also some good visibility for our sport because not many motocrossers get this opportunity,” Cairoli admitted. “It’s exciting to have done MotoGPTM and now Formula One.” Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer Speaking exclusively about the event, the nine-times number one also revealed that a degree of preparation has already gone into his F1 ‘debut’. He recently travelled to the team’s HQ in England to have his seat individually molded and to also make an obligatory session with the crew’s simulator. “It’s like a PlayStation but you feel the movements of the car and the throttle control and clutch is very sensitive,” he revealed. “It was difficult in the beginning but then they were very surprised by my laps. My times were actually very close to the drivers’ and not far from Verstappen’s! I cannot wait to test a real one.” The 32-year-old is already an accomplished Rally car driver; a passion that he indulges once the MXGP season is complete. The F1 opportunity was a little more complicated in terms of scheduling for Tony to be able to try other methods of prep. “It would have been better to have done some karting but I haven’t had much time,” he says. “We’re fighting for the championship and that means we have to look to the day job first. This is just going to be for fun.” Cairoli has already been able to think about the technicalities of the ‘spin’ thanks to his observations and experience with the simulator. “What is crucial with those cars are the braking points. I was braking late in the simulator because nothing can happen … but of course with a real car it is different! The steering wheel was pretty complicated but the hardest thing for me was getting in the car and making the seat; it is a strange feeling to be almost lying down. The cockpit is also really tight and the knuckles of your fingers almost touch the sides when they are on the wheel. There is almost no room at all and it is very compact.” Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer The Red Bull KTM rider competes in arguably the most liberal motorsport for individual expression. One of the reasons that motocross is so tough is because of the demand and punishment on all major muscle groups as the rider fights to manhandle the bike through the terrain and the air. F1 is the complete opposite, and perhaps one of the most constrained performance environments for the athlete. It is a marked contrast for TC222. “Yes, and especially because I have asthma and I felt the claustrophobia when I had to sit there for 30 minutes with the helmet making the seat,” he half-jokes. “There is also another part with the seatbelts and top unit of the car pushing you down hard before you’ve even started the engine: this was the most difficult and nervous part of the whole process for me!” The days of racing legends like John Surtees and Mike Hailwood interchanging world championship wheels and disciplines have long gone but Cairoli aims to prove that a racer’s instinct might still be the most valuable asset when it comes to making speed. Aside from the pride, there is also the bill to consider if perhaps it does go wrong and the gravel trap gets a bit too close: “I hope they have insurance but I don’t want to think about it!” Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer Photos: Ray Archer
  12. Cairoli to find new limits with forthcoming F1 test

    Cairoli to find new limits with forthcoming F1 test Posted in People, Riding “Difficult and nervous …”, the MXGP World Champion talks exclusively about another special motorsport outing thanks to a Red Bull Racing Formula One test on June 6. Tony Cairoli interrupted his post-wedding plans at the end of 2017 to circulate with the factory Red Bull KTM MotoGPTM machine at Valencia. Now, the Grand Prix winning Sicilian is anticipating his first laps in a Formula One car at the Red Bull Ring this week. #222 will join the Red Bull Racing test team to take a two-year old RB12 for some flying laps in Austria. “I’ve pushed Red Bull quite a bit for this as I know it’s nice for me but also some good visibility for our sport because not many motocrossers get this opportunity,” Cairoli admitted. “It’s exciting to have done MotoGPTM and now Formula One.” Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer Speaking exclusively about the event, the nine-times number one also revealed that a degree of preparation has already gone into his F1 ‘debut’. He recently travelled to the team’s HQ in England to have his seat individually molded and to also make an obligatory session with the crew’s simulator. “It’s like a PlayStation but you feel the movements of the car and the throttle control and clutch is very sensitive,” he revealed. “It was difficult in the beginning but then they were very surprised by my laps. My times were actually very close to the drivers’ and not far from Verstappen’s! I cannot wait to test a real one.” The 32-year-old is already an accomplished Rally car driver; a passion that he indulges once the MXGP season is complete. The F1 opportunity was a little more complicated in terms of scheduling for Tony to be able to try other methods of prep. “It would have been better to have done some karting but I haven’t had much time,” he says. “We’re fighting for the championship and that means we have to look to the day job first. This is just going to be for fun.” Cairoli has already been able to think about the technicalities of the ‘spin’ thanks to his observations and experience with the simulator. “What is crucial with those cars are the braking points. I was braking late in the simulator because nothing can happen … but of course with a real car it is different! The steering wheel was pretty complicated but the hardest thing for me was getting in the car and making the seat; it is a strange feeling to be almost lying down. The cockpit is also really tight and the knuckles of your fingers almost touch the sides when they are on the wheel. There is almost no room at all and it is very compact.” Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer The Red Bull KTM rider competes in arguably the most liberal motorsport for individual expression. One of the reasons that motocross is so tough is because of the demand and punishment on all major muscle groups as the rider fights to manhandle the bike through the terrain and the air. F1 is the complete opposite, and perhaps one of the most constrained performance environments for the athlete. It is a marked contrast for TC222. “Yes, and especially because I have asthma and I felt the claustrophobia when I had to sit there for 30 minutes with the helmet making the seat,” he half-jokes. “There is also another part with the seatbelts and top unit of the car pushing you down hard before you’ve even started the engine: this was the most difficult and nervous part of the whole process for me!” The days of racing legends like John Surtees and Mike Hailwood interchanging world championship wheels and disciplines have long gone but Cairoli aims to prove that a racer’s instinct might still be the most valuable asset when it comes to making speed. Aside from the pride, there is also the bill to consider if perhaps it does go wrong and the gravel trap gets a bit too close: “I hope they have insurance but I don’t want to think about it!” Throwback: Tony Cairoli (ITA) 2010 © Ray Archer Photos: Ray Archer
  13. #inthisyear1998: Duke I “Last Edition” Posted in Bikes, History Gran Canaria – beginning of March. Media launch of the new KTM 790 DUKE. The journalists are totally obsessed with the latest addition to the DUKE family. Its razor-sharp handling has earned the 790 its own nickname – “The Scalpel”. The new 790 plugs the gap between the 690, the most powerful single-cylinder on the market, and the “Beast”, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R with more than double the power. The complete genealogy of the 790 was on display in all its glory at a presentation at an aircraft hangar, beginning with the original DUKE, which was replaced as the KTM 640 DUKE “last edition” by the DUKE II exactly 20 years ago. KTM 640 DUKE Last Edition © Leo Keller In the early 90s KTM decided to take a new direction: At that time, KTM chose to take a two-pronged approach, launching a selection of sporty street bikes to join their offroad range for enduro and motocross racing. In 1994, the arrival of the KTM 620 DUKE (later often referred to as “DUKE I” to distinguish it from successor models) signaled the launch of a completely new type of vehicle. Although some self-builders and accessory traders had been making some nifty enduro modifications to try and scare the big bikes on windy roads, terms such as “fun bike” or “streetfighter” did not yet exist. It was KTM who did it properly. Instead of just exchanging the enduro tires for 17-inch wheels, a completely new motorbike came into existence based on the LC 4 Hard Enduro. There was no question that the long-stroke enduro fork needed to give way to a completely adjustable WP upside-down fork with a brake disc the size of a pizza. WP suspension and a brake disc were also used at the rear. The wide 17-inch wheels provided the eye candy while Gerald Kiska, the man still responsible for designing KTM bikes today, made the DUKE look a million miles removed from its enduro origins. DUKE – a name that has been synonymous with KTM street bikes for over 20 years – was not the result of extensive analyses, like you might suspect, but something we stumbled across a few days before the first trade show presentation. Wolfgang Felber, the product manager, remembers it very well. He flicked through some English and Italian dictionaries just before the trade show and put together a list of different names. The following day he showed his list to Kalman Cseh, the man who was responsible for making such decisions for KTM at the time. Cseh had a quick look through the list and immediately picked “DUKE”. Geoff Duke was a popular British racer in the 1950s and six-time world champion, but the motorcycle world later began to associate the German word “Herzog” – the literal translation from the English – with the KTM DUKE. KTM 640 DUKE Last Edition © Leo Keller Finished in a striking combination of metallic orange and black, the KTM 620 DUKE “first edition” from 1994 still had to brought to life with a kick-starter system and manual decompression lever. “This bike is not for wimps – just Duke it” were the words written in the concept description at the time. The first major revision came two years later. In 1996, the KTM 620 DUKE E “third edition” received new engine housing with two oil pumps and an E-starter, so that the rider could choose between pressing the start button or using the kick-starter system. A KTM-manufactured stainless steel silencer had also become responsible for the machine’s sound. In 1998, the final version of the original DUKE landed in showrooms – once again painted orange and black and now powered by a new 625ccm engine with balancer shaft. Only 400 units of the KTM 640 DUKE “last edition” were built and a mint-condition model is now a highly sought-after collector’s item. The “last edition” was replaced by the KTM 640 DUKE II with a strongly revised design. 2005 saw the release of the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE, a second model series of the naked bike, powered by a large-volume V2 engine, and, three years later, came a completely new, ultra-modern single-cylinder engine for the KTM 690 DUKE, the successor model to the DUKE II. Alongside the new KTM 790 DUKE, KTM currently offers the KTM 125 DUKE, KTM 390 DUKE, KTM 690 DUKE and the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R in the naked bike segment. These are powered by single-cylinder motors, the new LC8c in-line engine of the 790, or the strapping V2 of the SUPER DUKE R. In some South American and Asian countries, the KTM naked bike range has been expanded to include the KTM 250 DUKE. There’s really something for everybody – just Duke it! KTM 790 DUKE MY2018 © KTM Photos: Leo Keller | KTM
  14. #inthisyear1998: Duke I “Last Edition”

    #inthisyear1998: Duke I “Last Edition” Posted in Bikes, History Gran Canaria – beginning of March. Media launch of the new KTM 790 DUKE. The journalists are totally obsessed with the latest addition to the DUKE family. Its razor-sharp handling has earned the 790 its own nickname – “The Scalpel”. The new 790 plugs the gap between the 690, the most powerful single-cylinder on the market, and the “Beast”, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R with more than double the power. The complete genealogy of the 790 was on display in all its glory at a presentation at an aircraft hangar, beginning with the original DUKE, which was replaced as the KTM 640 DUKE “last edition” by the DUKE II exactly 20 years ago. KTM 640 DUKE Last Edition © Leo Keller In the early 90s KTM decided to take a new direction: At that time, KTM chose to take a two-pronged approach, launching a selection of sporty street bikes to join their offroad range for enduro and motocross racing. In 1994, the arrival of the KTM 620 DUKE (later often referred to as “DUKE I” to distinguish it from successor models) signaled the launch of a completely new type of vehicle. Although some self-builders and accessory traders had been making some nifty enduro modifications to try and scare the big bikes on windy roads, terms such as “fun bike” or “streetfighter” did not yet exist. It was KTM who did it properly. Instead of just exchanging the enduro tires for 17-inch wheels, a completely new motorbike came into existence based on the LC 4 Hard Enduro. There was no question that the long-stroke enduro fork needed to give way to a completely adjustable WP upside-down fork with a brake disc the size of a pizza. WP suspension and a brake disc were also used at the rear. The wide 17-inch wheels provided the eye candy while Gerald Kiska, the man still responsible for designing KTM bikes today, made the DUKE look a million miles removed from its enduro origins. DUKE – a name that has been synonymous with KTM street bikes for over 20 years – was not the result of extensive analyses, like you might suspect, but something we stumbled across a few days before the first trade show presentation. Wolfgang Felber, the product manager, remembers it very well. He flicked through some English and Italian dictionaries just before the trade show and put together a list of different names. The following day he showed his list to Kalman Cseh, the man who was responsible for making such decisions for KTM at the time. Cseh had a quick look through the list and immediately picked “DUKE”. Geoff Duke was a popular British racer in the 1950s and six-time world champion, but the motorcycle world later began to associate the German word “Herzog” – the literal translation from the English – with the KTM DUKE. KTM 640 DUKE Last Edition © Leo Keller Finished in a striking combination of metallic orange and black, the KTM 620 DUKE “first edition” from 1994 still had to brought to life with a kick-starter system and manual decompression lever. “This bike is not for wimps – just Duke it” were the words written in the concept description at the time. The first major revision came two years later. In 1996, the KTM 620 DUKE E “third edition” received new engine housing with two oil pumps and an E-starter, so that the rider could choose between pressing the start button or using the kick-starter system. A KTM-manufactured stainless steel silencer had also become responsible for the machine’s sound. In 1998, the final version of the original DUKE landed in showrooms – once again painted orange and black and now powered by a new 625ccm engine with balancer shaft. Only 400 units of the KTM 640 DUKE “last edition” were built and a mint-condition model is now a highly sought-after collector’s item. The “last edition” was replaced by the KTM 640 DUKE II with a strongly revised design. 2005 saw the release of the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE, a second model series of the naked bike, powered by a large-volume V2 engine, and, three years later, came a completely new, ultra-modern single-cylinder engine for the KTM 690 DUKE, the successor model to the DUKE II. Alongside the new KTM 790 DUKE, KTM currently offers the KTM 125 DUKE, KTM 390 DUKE, KTM 690 DUKE and the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R in the naked bike segment. These are powered by single-cylinder motors, the new LC8c in-line engine of the 790, or the strapping V2 of the SUPER DUKE R. In some South American and Asian countries, the KTM naked bike range has been expanded to include the KTM 250 DUKE. There’s really something for everybody – just Duke it! KTM 790 DUKE MY2018 © KTM Photos: Leo Keller | KTM
  15. Sam Sunderland – Segrave Trophy winner 2017 Posted in People You’d be forgiven for having not heard of the Segrave Trophy, especially those who live outside of the UK. But take a closer look at the award and the list of previous winners reads like a who’s who of the British motorsport world. Sam Sunderland is the first and only British motorcycle rider to have won the Dakar Rally. On January 14, 2017 the likeable Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider from Poole in Dorset crossed the finish line in Argentina to make his own special piece of history. In the 40 years that the Dakar Rally has run, both in Africa and South America, no Brit had previously ever taken victory, in any class. It is this achievement that the Segrave Nominations Committee deemed worthy of winning the prestigious Segrave Trophy. Commissioned in 1930 by Lady Segrave in memory of her husband, the award is only presented to someone who displays ‘outstanding skill, courage and initiative on land, water and in the air – the Spirit of Adventure’. Past motorcycling winners include John Surtees, Joey Dunlop, Barry Sheene and Mike Hailwood – an impressive list indeed! Sam Sunderland 2018 © Royal Automobile Club At the recent award ceremony held at the Royal Automobile Club in London, the KTM BLOG caught up with Sam to get his thoughts on being presented with such a prestigious award and what it means for him personally, and motorcycle sport in the UK. Sam, first of all congratulations on winning the Segrave Trophy. How does it feel having your name added to such an incredible list of former winners? “It’s amazing, I am truly humbled and honored to be part of such a legendary list of riders, drivers and pioneers in the world of motorsport. As an offroad rider I think it’s something extra special to be given the award as our disciplines are often overlooked. It brings further media attention to our sport and I think raises it up a level too, even on the world stage. When I was first told I had won the award, and looked up the past winners, it blew my mind. I also like the fact they don’t give it out every year, but only when someone is deemed worthy of winning – it makes it that little bit more special.” As someone who spends most of his time racing and traveling all over the world, do you think winning the Seagrave Trophy will help shine a light on cross-country rallying in the UK? “Yes definitely, I think a lot of people in the UK have heard of the Dakar Rally, but perhaps don’t know that much about it. When I won in 2017 the response from the public was amazing, this award only goes to further that recognition and I think it’s hugely important especially for offroad motorsport. As a proud Englishman, it’s a massive achievement to have my name added to that list of winners.” Sam Sunderland (GBR), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team & KTM 450 RALLY 2017 © Rally Zone Yourself and John McGuinness are the latest two winners of the award – one a Dakar Rally winner, McGuinness a 23-time Isle of Man TT winner. The two events are widely different but arguably likened due to their extreme nature … “As motorcyclists, I think we often forget how extreme a lot of what we do really is. I have heard the Dakar compared to the TT before and I even have some friends who race there. I think it’s like a lot of sports, you are aware of the dangers involved in your own sport but you find a way to deal with it. It’s that ‘spirit of adventure’ as named in the award and the challenge of pitting yourself against not just your opponents but the conditions and the event itself. I think that’s what makes the two stand out from other disciplines in motorcycle sport and again I’m honored to be credited for my achievements.” What would you say is the biggest difference that separates rallying from other forms of motorcycle racing? “The biggest difference is perhaps that with races like the TT, road racing and motocross you can learn the course, learn the tracks. With rally, everything is new every single kilometer. You are trusting your road book completely and if there are no dangers listed in the road book you simply don’t shut off. If you hesitate too much on each blind rise for example, you just won’t finish in the top-10.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY 2018 © Marcin Kin Some of the Seagrave trophy winners were true pioneers, not always out-and-out racers, which perfectly highlights the importance of Spirit of Adventure … “There aren’t many corners of the world people haven’t been today, so I guess it’s harder to be a pioneer, but adventure – going and doing – still excites and motivates people. When you look back at the past winners of the Segrave Trophy, some of those guys, and girls, were amazing. They were the true pioneers of sport or adventure and really pushed the boundaries of what was possible at the time. You have got Malcom Campbell and his son Donald, they both set world speed records; Amy Johnson who flew solo from London to Cape Town in 1932. To be added to the same list as legends like that feels incredible.” Sam Sunderland & Tom Purves (Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club) 2018 © Royal Automobile Club You’ve won the Dakar, had your achievements acknowledged with the Segrave award, but our guess is you’re not ready to slow down just yet! “No, no way. It simply doesn’t work like that. I am a racer and so often the feeling you have inside is that you are only as good as your last race. The 2018 Dakar was a tough one for me, my pace was good, but a small mistake on one of the stages caused me to hurt my back and I was forced to retire. Luckily, I wasn’t injured too badly and was back on a bike a few weeks later, but inside I was gutted. I wanted so badly to win again and I felt I had let myself and the team down. When you have won the Dakar it just raises the bar that little bit higher and you have this expectation to do better. I remember the first round of the World Championship in Abu Dhabi after I had won the Dakar. You feel like everyone simply expects you to go on winning and it’s just not that straightforward. It’s like you never arrive, you have to keep on going, keep on fighting for wins and results.” Thanks Sam, congratulations again on your award and good luck for the 2019 Dakar! Photos: Royal Automobile Club | Rally Zone | Marcin Kin
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