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  1. THE BIGGEST STAGE: MOTORSPORT SCENES TO STIR THE MIND AT MXoN 73 years of history only adds to the prestige of the Motocross of Nations, the oldest and only closed circuit team race in the world that generates an atmosphere unlike anything else in motorsports. Jorge Prado @RayArcher At Assen, the Geert Timmer grandstand runs from the exit of the Ramshoek curve, all the way along the pit straight and along to the first corner. It houses a major chunk of the 60,000-seating capacity at the famous racetrack. At the 2019 Motocross of Nations, well over half of the tribune is full. Half of that crowd is getting wet. The rain is pouring down at one of Europe’s oldest motorsport facilities, but it is apt that the Motocross of Nations is taking place at the Drenthe venue. The Netherlands hosted the very first MXoN (then carrying the title “Motocross des Nations”) back in 1947. Assen is the definition of a modern motocross circuit: a temporary course chiseled from thousands of tons of imported sand and making full use of the permanent infrastructure like the paddock, VIP lounges, Media Center and more. It has been the home of the Dutch Grand Prix on the MXGP calendar since 2015, but the MXoN is a different animal altogether. Jeffrey Herlings & Jorge Prado @RayArcher There is a reason – several actually – why this particular race is a firm date in the agenda for many, and that’s not a presumption; you only have to look at the flags, costumes and special effort made by patriotic supporters to surmise that this annual fixture has been eagerly anticipated. People are drawn to the MXoN for the unique appeal that it provides. There is nothing like it. Motorsports fans are typical drawn to a particular rider/driver or a brand, but the MXoN is all about pride in the flag and the prospect of watching the three best athletes (two on 450s and one on a 250) selected by their country to compete as a team towards the singular goal. The three motos, five scores (the worst is dropped) and the inverted scoring system (1 point for 1st and all the way down to 40 for a DNF) mean a convoluted feeling of ‘what is going on?’ In the final laps of the last moto the implications of an ever-changing race order also bounce around in terms of the ultimate podium positions: the classification is undecided and often unknown by the spectators right up until all the riders have crossed the finish line. It means an overall comprehension of the event is daunting, but it’s not why the majority of the crowd is there. As much as there is competition and bragging rights at stake on the track there is also fierce support and rivalry at the fences: British fans bellow for the Brits, French fans go wild for the French, the Latvians wave flags for the Latvians, the Dutch roar and light flares for the Dutch. And so on. The opportunity to enjoy and display some national pride in a sport that doesn’t involve a ball spills into fun with eccentric costumes and paint. There is a carnival feel at times, almost like a music festival. It is like the FIFA World Cup but with all the teams together and squashed into one day. The media attendance rivals any MotoGP™ event for interest and the industry presence is rarely as high for any dirt bike meeting. Jorge Prado @RayArcher Back on the sand and breaking the format of the Nations down further reveals more novelties: the sight of 250s racing against 450s (and it is not unusual for a 250 to win), the strategy of which rider takes the better start slot (1-20 for the first athletes and then 20-40 for the second), seeing ‘obscure’ motocross territories like Cyprus and China trying to compete and the sheer depth of the entry list. A country like Slovenia might boast the MXGP World Champion in their ranks but their combined strength is far less compared to nations with a competitive and renowned trio. The same case applied to Spain with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado making his first outing on a KTM 450 SX-F at Assen. The fever of the MXoN is usually hottest around the “home nation”. At Assen the timing was right for Team Netherlands. Starring Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings, the 2018 MXGP World Champion and one of the fastest motocross riders in the world, and Standing Construct KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff among the three, the Dutch have finished as runner-up for the past three years. They had been trying to dislodge the hegemony of Team France and a streak that had existed for five editions and since Latvia in 2014. Jeffrey Herlings @RayArcher Amazingly the orange crew had never won and the last time the Nations had visited the Netherlands was in 2004. The MXoN has been hosted by France, Great Britain, USA, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Latvia since that day in Lierop. Herlings and his KTM 450 SX-F have a good fit with Assen. Thirteen months earlier he had won the Grand Prix and celebrated his first premier class world title (the fourth crown of his career) in front of the adoring masses. He has also won in the MX2 category across the white sand. Coldenhoff as well knows the feeling of top-three speed around the terrain. Both KTM riders came into the traditional season curtain-closer in peak form: Herlings had won the last two MXGPs of the in Turkey and China to ease the pain of an injury-hit 2019 while Coldenhoff had arrived to a career-high with five podiums and two victories in the last five rounds. Together with MX2 racer Calvin Vlaanderen they were heavy favorites, even in spite of the disagreeable weather that gave other nations hope that mistakes and an upset to the rulebook was more of a possibility. Glenn Coldenhoff @RayArcher Together with his KTM 450 SX-F, Coldenhoff would become the second rider ever to win two motos two years in arrow (he excelled the previous summer at RedBud in the USA) after former Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Tony Cairoli who managed the feat in 2012 and 2013 with the 350 SX-F. #259 was the star performer but Herlings’ first outing in Race1 was the action bright spot of a dark and cloud-lined day. The 25 year old pushed all the way through the field and only just failed to beat Slovenia’s Tim Gajser by less than a second. His progress animated the Dutch public even more and with Coldenhoff’s breakaway in the second race (and Vlaanderen’s efforts on the 250 to 10-10) the Netherlands had a large buffer before the decisive last gate drop. “Going into the last moto we knew only one of us had to finish,” said Herlings afterwards. “When I saw Glenn up front I thought ‘that’s good’. It takes some pressure away when you can line-up with two other guys that are capable of winning their class. We expected – well, I don’t want to sound too confident – to go for the win but it still all had to fall together. We still had to pull it off, and I never had one second of doubt in both of those guys. We’ve been training a lot in the last few weeks and we’ve been pretty fast. I knew we had a big chance of winning.” Team Netherlands celebration @RayArcher “These guys are individual sportsmen, great sportsmen, but they function very well as a team,” assessed Team Manager Patrice Assendelft. “This weekend anything could happen because of the weather. It was like a gamble before we started the weekend but they did so well. It means a lot. I promise you, we’re not going to wait another 70 years or something!” “It was very tough with those conditions but I’m glad we made it. Of course the goal was to win. We would definitely be disappointed with something less. I won the races in RedBud last year but this one was definitely nicer because of the home crowd.” Jeffrey Herlings @RayArcher Herlings has now tasted two kinds of professional glory at Assen: the selfish and the selfless. For an individual who insatiably feasts and feeds on victory the MXoN delivered an odd sensation. #84 claimed he was “very not satisfied” with his scores of 2-4 but “we’re really here for is to win as a nation, and that’s what we did.” And the main difference between celebrating a MXGP World Championship and an MXoN win? “About fifteen degrees and the sunshine!” he joked. Back in 1947 Great Britain were the first winners of the competition. It was fitting that the trio of Adam Sterry, Red Bull KTM Enduro rider Nathan Watson (the ex-MXGP ace was drafted in late as a replacement) and KTM rider Shaun Simpson (victor of the first Dutch GP at Assen in 2015) were able to profit from a technical problem for the French on the last lap and take the final podium spot behind the Dutch and then the Belgians. The relentless showers may have continued right through the event program but the drama did not wash away as Gautier Paulin’s bike rolled to a halt. Nathan Watson @RayArcher For the outgoing champions the next twelve months cannot pass quickly enough. The Ernee circuit in northern France will be the next destination for this enduring contest and this time it will be the Dutch wearing those prized 1, 2, 3 number plates. Images: KTM, Ray Archer
  2. THE BIGGEST STAGE: MOTORSPORT SCENES TO STIR THE MIND AT MXoN 73 years of history only adds to the prestige of the Motocross of Nations, the oldest and only closed circuit team race in the world that generates an atmosphere unlike anything else in motorsports. Jorge Prado @RayArcher At Assen, the Geert Timmer grandstand runs from the exit of the Ramshoek curve, all the way along the pit straight and along to the first corner. It houses a major chunk of the 60,000-seating capacity at the famous racetrack. At the 2019 Motocross of Nations, well over half of the tribune is full. Half of that crowd is getting wet. The rain is pouring down at one of Europe’s oldest motorsport facilities, but it is apt that the Motocross of Nations is taking place at the Drenthe venue. The Netherlands hosted the very first MXoN (then carrying the title “Motocross des Nations”) back in 1947. Assen is the definition of a modern motocross circuit: a temporary course chiseled from thousands of tons of imported sand and making full use of the permanent infrastructure like the paddock, VIP lounges, Media Center and more. It has been the home of the Dutch Grand Prix on the MXGP calendar since 2015, but the MXoN is a different animal altogether. Jeffrey Herlings & Jorge Prado @RayArcher There is a reason – several actually – why this particular race is a firm date in the agenda for many, and that’s not a presumption; you only have to look at the flags, costumes and special effort made by patriotic supporters to surmise that this annual fixture has been eagerly anticipated. People are drawn to the MXoN for the unique appeal that it provides. There is nothing like it. Motorsports fans are typical drawn to a particular rider/driver or a brand, but the MXoN is all about pride in the flag and the prospect of watching the three best athletes (two on 450s and one on a 250) selected by their country to compete as a team towards the singular goal. The three motos, five scores (the worst is dropped) and the inverted scoring system (1 point for 1st and all the way down to 40 for a DNF) mean a convoluted feeling of ‘what is going on?’ In the final laps of the last moto the implications of an ever-changing race order also bounce around in terms of the ultimate podium positions: the classification is undecided and often unknown by the spectators right up until all the riders have crossed the finish line. It means an overall comprehension of the event is daunting, but it’s not why the majority of the crowd is there. As much as there is competition and bragging rights at stake on the track there is also fierce support and rivalry at the fences: British fans bellow for the Brits, French fans go wild for the French, the Latvians wave flags for the Latvians, the Dutch roar and light flares for the Dutch. And so on. The opportunity to enjoy and display some national pride in a sport that doesn’t involve a ball spills into fun with eccentric costumes and paint. There is a carnival feel at times, almost like a music festival. It is like the FIFA World Cup but with all the teams together and squashed into one day. The media attendance rivals any MotoGP™ event for interest and the industry presence is rarely as high for any dirt bike meeting. Jorge Prado @RayArcher Back on the sand and breaking the format of the Nations down further reveals more novelties: the sight of 250s racing against 450s (and it is not unusual for a 250 to win), the strategy of which rider takes the better start slot (1-20 for the first athletes and then 20-40 for the second), seeing ‘obscure’ motocross territories like Cyprus and China trying to compete and the sheer depth of the entry list. A country like Slovenia might boast the MXGP World Champion in their ranks but their combined strength is far less compared to nations with a competitive and renowned trio. The same case applied to Spain with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jorge Prado making his first outing on a KTM 450 SX-F at Assen. The fever of the MXoN is usually hottest around the “home nation”. At Assen the timing was right for Team Netherlands. Starring Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jeffrey Herlings, the 2018 MXGP World Champion and one of the fastest motocross riders in the world, and Standing Construct KTM’s Glenn Coldenhoff among the three, the Dutch have finished as runner-up for the past three years. They had been trying to dislodge the hegemony of Team France and a streak that had existed for five editions and since Latvia in 2014. Jeffrey Herlings @RayArcher Amazingly the orange crew had never won and the last time the Nations had visited the Netherlands was in 2004. The MXoN has been hosted by France, Great Britain, USA, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Latvia since that day in Lierop. Herlings and his KTM 450 SX-F have a good fit with Assen. Thirteen months earlier he had won the Grand Prix and celebrated his first premier class world title (the fourth crown of his career) in front of the adoring masses. He has also won in the MX2 category across the white sand. Coldenhoff as well knows the feeling of top-three speed around the terrain. Both KTM riders came into the traditional season curtain-closer in peak form: Herlings had won the last two MXGPs of the in Turkey and China to ease the pain of an injury-hit 2019 while Coldenhoff had arrived to a career-high with five podiums and two victories in the last five rounds. Together with MX2 racer Calvin Vlaanderen they were heavy favorites, even in spite of the disagreeable weather that gave other nations hope that mistakes and an upset to the rulebook was more of a possibility. Glenn Coldenhoff @RayArcher Together with his KTM 450 SX-F, Coldenhoff would become the second rider ever to win two motos two years in arrow (he excelled the previous summer at RedBud in the USA) after former Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammate Tony Cairoli who managed the feat in 2012 and 2013 with the 350 SX-F. #259 was the star performer but Herlings’ first outing in Race1 was the action bright spot of a dark and cloud-lined day. The 25 year old pushed all the way through the field and only just failed to beat Slovenia’s Tim Gajser by less than a second. His progress animated the Dutch public even more and with Coldenhoff’s breakaway in the second race (and Vlaanderen’s efforts on the 250 to 10-10) the Netherlands had a large buffer before the decisive last gate drop. “Going into the last moto we knew only one of us had to finish,” said Herlings afterwards. “When I saw Glenn up front I thought ‘that’s good’. It takes some pressure away when you can line-up with two other guys that are capable of winning their class. We expected – well, I don’t want to sound too confident – to go for the win but it still all had to fall together. We still had to pull it off, and I never had one second of doubt in both of those guys. We’ve been training a lot in the last few weeks and we’ve been pretty fast. I knew we had a big chance of winning.” Team Netherlands celebration @RayArcher “These guys are individual sportsmen, great sportsmen, but they function very well as a team,” assessed Team Manager Patrice Assendelft. “This weekend anything could happen because of the weather. It was like a gamble before we started the weekend but they did so well. It means a lot. I promise you, we’re not going to wait another 70 years or something!” “It was very tough with those conditions but I’m glad we made it. Of course the goal was to win. We would definitely be disappointed with something less. I won the races in RedBud last year but this one was definitely nicer because of the home crowd.” Jeffrey Herlings @RayArcher Herlings has now tasted two kinds of professional glory at Assen: the selfish and the selfless. For an individual who insatiably feasts and feeds on victory the MXoN delivered an odd sensation. #84 claimed he was “very not satisfied” with his scores of 2-4 but “we’re really here for is to win as a nation, and that’s what we did.” And the main difference between celebrating a MXGP World Championship and an MXoN win? “About fifteen degrees and the sunshine!” he joked. Back in 1947 Great Britain were the first winners of the competition. It was fitting that the trio of Adam Sterry, Red Bull KTM Enduro rider Nathan Watson (the ex-MXGP ace was drafted in late as a replacement) and KTM rider Shaun Simpson (victor of the first Dutch GP at Assen in 2015) were able to profit from a technical problem for the French on the last lap and take the final podium spot behind the Dutch and then the Belgians. The relentless showers may have continued right through the event program but the drama did not wash away as Gautier Paulin’s bike rolled to a halt. Nathan Watson @RayArcher For the outgoing champions the next twelve months cannot pass quickly enough. The Ernee circuit in northern France will be the next destination for this enduring contest and this time it will be the Dutch wearing those prized 1, 2, 3 number plates. Images: KTM, Ray Archer
  3. Salut ! Doresc sa mi achizitionez un ktm 300 exc . Si as vrea sa stiu cateva ponturi la care sa fiu atent , inainte de al achizitiona. Sunt incepator, si as vrea sa stiu , daca alegerea mea este ok, iar in clipa in care ma decid asupra unuia ce sa am in vedere ? multumesc !
  4. FOOD FOR A MOTOGP™ RACER – POL ESPARGARO DISHES UP ON CULINARY DISCIPLINE & REQUIREMENTS WHILE LIVING AT 350KMPH In the immediate hive of Sunday’s activity after a European MotoGP™ it can be easy to find Pol Espargaró sitting in the Red Bull Holzhaus Energy Station eating a bikini. The 28-year-old is not chewing on beach clothing but a toasted ham and cheese sandwich (so called in Catalonia). It’s almost a ritual. A small ‘reward’ for the sandwich-crazy lead rider of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team that is deep into its third term at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. Pol Espargaró @Gold and Goose The Holzhaus is typically packed with KTM’s team members and guests throughout a Grand Prix weekend but riders tend to eat at unusual hours and often with a plate of food different to everybody else. It’s hardly surprising. They need to be at a mental and physical peak of performance and alertness for the mere minutes they are on track and need to drill machinery to the maximum. Now a six-year veteran of the premier class after jumping into MotoGP™ as a Moto2™ World Champion in 2013, Espargaró is at the forefront of KTM’s progress in the sport and has already racked up seven top ten results in 2019. When the Spaniard hopped on the RC16 for the first race at Qatar in 2017 he was 2.5 second adrift of the pack. At Misano for round thirteen of the current campaign Pol was second fastest on the MotoGP™ start grid. Like KTM, Pol is hungry. On this occasion, we interrupt his sandwich time to talk about a facet of preparation that many fans might not necessarily know about. Tuck in! Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero It seems there is much more knowledge and awareness in professional sport about diet and intolerances now. Is it something you think about or wanted to learn about? I think it is important to know your body as much as you can. We have a lot of good doctors to hand and with blood tests and other examinations you can know a lot about what you should eat and what is good for you and what isn’t. You can have an idea yourself just through feeling but the science helps. I think many people can have an athlete’s diet quite easily now but it helps to have that analysis which focuses even more on what will help you on the bike. Our sport, or the race time, is just forty minutes so you don’t need to be eating, eating and eating. The energy we spend is very quick. It means we don’t really need things like supplements or an ultra-strict program. Although we have routines of course. I eat at least two hours before getting on the bike. When the race is at 2:00 p.m. then that’s OK but practice on Saturday is 1:30 p.m. and it means a weird early lunch! In your case are there any intolerances or problems? Not really. I tolerate bread and gluten very well so I can eat a lot of it during the day. But I still prefer light food and healthy stuff without sauces. Very plain. It’s not the nicest or most fun but it works. Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero How does it work at home? We have a machine that makes lots of different foods and it is very simple and easy to make healthy stuff. As well as good desserts! In the winter I’m much easier with what I eat. We have a Mediterranean diet, which is pretty clean. I don’t like fast food and I don’t eat it. So in the winter I am eating what I want rather than what I should and I think this is a good way to try to forget a little of the discipline of what we do. To enjoy life a little. Then, about a month before the season, I will start to get super-strict to get back to the weight I need to be. What does ‘super strict’ mean? Simple stuff. No sauces. Pure food as well. So if I’m eating an omelette then the eggs will be ecologic. A lot of fish. No heavy meats. I love pasta and there are hundreds of different kinds. I bake my own bread at home and love doing that. I’ve made versions with cereals, different grains and ingredients. When you were fifteen and first came to the world championship did you really have to learn about this stuff or were you already eating well and benefiting from it? When I started on the 125 I went to live alone. I think I was seventeen when that first happened, so you need to learn to cook for yourself pretty quickly. At that time I was not taking much care of my diet. Actually I don’t think that happened until I got to a good level of Moto2™ and into MotoGP™! I wasn’t being super-careful or asking questions about what I was eating and why and how much I was eating. [smiles] I remember back when I was riding 125s that I was eating a lot of frozen food. I would go to one shop in particular and fill the trolley! In my home the fridge was almost empty and the freezer was completely full! The microwave was used a lot! The food was not super-bad but it wasn’t great either. Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero Your brother [Aleix] owns a sushi restaurant. How was he with food and as a reference for you? Aleix was always better than me. Right now we eat differently because we have different bodies and he loves cycling. He needs to be very light, so he eats a lot of vegetables. Aleix is very focussed on his diet and he gains weight quicker than I do. I have a bit more muscle than him. He’s always been careful. I think having a restaurant is a risky business but he loves the Sushi and he did me a big favour because he opened that place and the food is really good. That could finish soon for me though because in January I plan to be a vegetarian. I am already talking with nutritionists and diet specialists as well as trying things. Why? I’m kinda against how we are treating animals. I’m not eating so much meat now but I still think it will be tricky because I’m eating a lot of fish and lots of chicken. The hardest part will be sticking to it when we are flying around the globe and in airports and when you might not have vegetarian food to hand. But, a lot of things are difficult in this world, so I’m going to try at least. Was there a moment when you were struggling for stamina or you were really curious about what you were eating and how it could give more energy? Yes, and it was when I came to KTM. It was a new project and the bike was very physical to ride so I knew I needed to be as fit as possible. Every single detail with the body – eating, training, supplements – had to be really accurate. I couldn’t – and wouldn’t – give up anything in the races because of a physical reason. I trained so much in the beginning and now even more – much more than when I first came into MotoGP™. Every year I discover a little bit more and it’s actually quite fun to find that stuff out: you get motivated by it. The vegetarian plan is motivation and I like that. Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero You have the motorhome at the track but then you have the Energy Station. Do you always eat here? I have breakfast in the motorhome and can have lunch here or there because it’s usually just white rice and chicken breast. I’m also here in the evenings because the food is unbelievable. OK, so what’s the MotoGP™ race day eating routine…? I don’t eat so much when I wake up because we are out on the bike just after 9:30 a.m. for warm-up. I’d have to get up much earlier than I do if I wanted to eat well. I choose to rest instead! Warm-up is not so long anyway. After that I’ll have a couple of pieces of bread with some oil and turkey – always the same! It’s not much fun. At midday I’ll have a small amount of rice and chicken. On Saturday, if we are doing a long FP4, then I’ll have a couple of supplements like energy gels or bars and also some caffeine. Pol Espargaró @Gold and Goose What about hydration? That must be tricky in places like Thailand and Malaysia especially. I normally drink a lot but on race day – right up until I get ready – I drink and drink water until I go to the toilet and it is like the water is just passing through! I do this even in cold conditions because I think is super-important to be hydrated, even mentally. Forty minutes before it is time to get ready then I stop drinking otherwise I would be running off the grid. You see riders walking off sometimes and I think it is connected with nerves and your body wanting to expulse that energy. So Sunday morning I’m in the toilet quite a lot! I sometimes use a CamelBak during the race for something extra. What is your dietary weakness? Oh! Desserts, and it feels like it gets harder to resist! Sometimes in the winter I do oven-cooked bananas with sugar on the top. Unbelievable. As a kid I didn’t like dessert – I know! – but recently Chocolate Coulant is amazing and Nutella is hard to resist: I can eat that now after a big strong effort training during the winter and when I need some sugar. I think I love it so much because I keep away from it as much as I can most of the time. Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero What’s a typical ‘reward’ dinner then? Sundays after the race I don’t care! If the result is good then I can eat an amazing quantity! Most of the weekend I’m not eating much so Sunday can be crazy and I usually finish a big plate. On the other hand, if the results are not going well then I feel like my stomach is closed and I won’t want to eat much for a day or two. It’s strange how the body works. Lastly: favourite Catalan dish? Ah! ‘Pa amb tomaquet I embotit’ (toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomato and oil and a small piece of cured meat or ham). My parents were working when we were kids – me, my brother and sister – and if my Mum was stressed or tired at the end of the day then she’d just prepare this plate and I loved it. Bread with some ‘fuet’. It’s not so healthy, and I know if I’m going to be a vegetarian then it will be over with but I will make the effort to be veggie. The bread stays though: there is no way I could get rid of the bread! Images : KTM, Sebas Romero, Gold and Goose
  5. FOOD FOR A MOTOGP™ RACER – POL ESPARGARO DISHES UP ON CULINARY DISCIPLINE & REQUIREMENTS WHILE LIVING AT 350KMPH In the immediate hive of Sunday’s activity after a European MotoGP™ it can be easy to find Pol Espargaró sitting in the Red Bull Holzhaus Energy Station eating a bikini. The 28-year-old is not chewing on beach clothing but a toasted ham and cheese sandwich (so called in Catalonia). It’s almost a ritual. A small ‘reward’ for the sandwich-crazy lead rider of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team that is deep into its third term at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing. Pol Espargaró @Gold and Goose The Holzhaus is typically packed with KTM’s team members and guests throughout a Grand Prix weekend but riders tend to eat at unusual hours and often with a plate of food different to everybody else. It’s hardly surprising. They need to be at a mental and physical peak of performance and alertness for the mere minutes they are on track and need to drill machinery to the maximum. Now a six-year veteran of the premier class after jumping into MotoGP™ as a Moto2™ World Champion in 2013, Espargaró is at the forefront of KTM’s progress in the sport and has already racked up seven top ten results in 2019. When the Spaniard hopped on the RC16 for the first race at Qatar in 2017 he was 2.5 second adrift of the pack. At Misano for round thirteen of the current campaign Pol was second fastest on the MotoGP™ start grid. Like KTM, Pol is hungry. On this occasion, we interrupt his sandwich time to talk about a facet of preparation that many fans might not necessarily know about. Tuck in! Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero It seems there is much more knowledge and awareness in professional sport about diet and intolerances now. Is it something you think about or wanted to learn about? I think it is important to know your body as much as you can. We have a lot of good doctors to hand and with blood tests and other examinations you can know a lot about what you should eat and what is good for you and what isn’t. You can have an idea yourself just through feeling but the science helps. I think many people can have an athlete’s diet quite easily now but it helps to have that analysis which focuses even more on what will help you on the bike. Our sport, or the race time, is just forty minutes so you don’t need to be eating, eating and eating. The energy we spend is very quick. It means we don’t really need things like supplements or an ultra-strict program. Although we have routines of course. I eat at least two hours before getting on the bike. When the race is at 2:00 p.m. then that’s OK but practice on Saturday is 1:30 p.m. and it means a weird early lunch! In your case are there any intolerances or problems? Not really. I tolerate bread and gluten very well so I can eat a lot of it during the day. But I still prefer light food and healthy stuff without sauces. Very plain. It’s not the nicest or most fun but it works. Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero How does it work at home? We have a machine that makes lots of different foods and it is very simple and easy to make healthy stuff. As well as good desserts! In the winter I’m much easier with what I eat. We have a Mediterranean diet, which is pretty clean. I don’t like fast food and I don’t eat it. So in the winter I am eating what I want rather than what I should and I think this is a good way to try to forget a little of the discipline of what we do. To enjoy life a little. Then, about a month before the season, I will start to get super-strict to get back to the weight I need to be. What does ‘super strict’ mean? Simple stuff. No sauces. Pure food as well. So if I’m eating an omelette then the eggs will be ecologic. A lot of fish. No heavy meats. I love pasta and there are hundreds of different kinds. I bake my own bread at home and love doing that. I’ve made versions with cereals, different grains and ingredients. When you were fifteen and first came to the world championship did you really have to learn about this stuff or were you already eating well and benefiting from it? When I started on the 125 I went to live alone. I think I was seventeen when that first happened, so you need to learn to cook for yourself pretty quickly. At that time I was not taking much care of my diet. Actually I don’t think that happened until I got to a good level of Moto2™ and into MotoGP™! I wasn’t being super-careful or asking questions about what I was eating and why and how much I was eating. [smiles] I remember back when I was riding 125s that I was eating a lot of frozen food. I would go to one shop in particular and fill the trolley! In my home the fridge was almost empty and the freezer was completely full! The microwave was used a lot! The food was not super-bad but it wasn’t great either. Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero Your brother [Aleix] owns a sushi restaurant. How was he with food and as a reference for you? Aleix was always better than me. Right now we eat differently because we have different bodies and he loves cycling. He needs to be very light, so he eats a lot of vegetables. Aleix is very focussed on his diet and he gains weight quicker than I do. I have a bit more muscle than him. He’s always been careful. I think having a restaurant is a risky business but he loves the Sushi and he did me a big favour because he opened that place and the food is really good. That could finish soon for me though because in January I plan to be a vegetarian. I am already talking with nutritionists and diet specialists as well as trying things. Why? I’m kinda against how we are treating animals. I’m not eating so much meat now but I still think it will be tricky because I’m eating a lot of fish and lots of chicken. The hardest part will be sticking to it when we are flying around the globe and in airports and when you might not have vegetarian food to hand. But, a lot of things are difficult in this world, so I’m going to try at least. Was there a moment when you were struggling for stamina or you were really curious about what you were eating and how it could give more energy? Yes, and it was when I came to KTM. It was a new project and the bike was very physical to ride so I knew I needed to be as fit as possible. Every single detail with the body – eating, training, supplements – had to be really accurate. I couldn’t – and wouldn’t – give up anything in the races because of a physical reason. I trained so much in the beginning and now even more – much more than when I first came into MotoGP™. Every year I discover a little bit more and it’s actually quite fun to find that stuff out: you get motivated by it. The vegetarian plan is motivation and I like that. Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero You have the motorhome at the track but then you have the Energy Station. Do you always eat here? I have breakfast in the motorhome and can have lunch here or there because it’s usually just white rice and chicken breast. I’m also here in the evenings because the food is unbelievable. OK, so what’s the MotoGP™ race day eating routine…? I don’t eat so much when I wake up because we are out on the bike just after 9:30 a.m. for warm-up. I’d have to get up much earlier than I do if I wanted to eat well. I choose to rest instead! Warm-up is not so long anyway. After that I’ll have a couple of pieces of bread with some oil and turkey – always the same! It’s not much fun. At midday I’ll have a small amount of rice and chicken. On Saturday, if we are doing a long FP4, then I’ll have a couple of supplements like energy gels or bars and also some caffeine. Pol Espargaró @Gold and Goose What about hydration? That must be tricky in places like Thailand and Malaysia especially. I normally drink a lot but on race day – right up until I get ready – I drink and drink water until I go to the toilet and it is like the water is just passing through! I do this even in cold conditions because I think is super-important to be hydrated, even mentally. Forty minutes before it is time to get ready then I stop drinking otherwise I would be running off the grid. You see riders walking off sometimes and I think it is connected with nerves and your body wanting to expulse that energy. So Sunday morning I’m in the toilet quite a lot! I sometimes use a CamelBak during the race for something extra. What is your dietary weakness? Oh! Desserts, and it feels like it gets harder to resist! Sometimes in the winter I do oven-cooked bananas with sugar on the top. Unbelievable. As a kid I didn’t like dessert – I know! – but recently Chocolate Coulant is amazing and Nutella is hard to resist: I can eat that now after a big strong effort training during the winter and when I need some sugar. I think I love it so much because I keep away from it as much as I can most of the time. Pol Espargaró @Sebas Romero What’s a typical ‘reward’ dinner then? Sundays after the race I don’t care! If the result is good then I can eat an amazing quantity! Most of the weekend I’m not eating much so Sunday can be crazy and I usually finish a big plate. On the other hand, if the results are not going well then I feel like my stomach is closed and I won’t want to eat much for a day or two. It’s strange how the body works. Lastly: favourite Catalan dish? Ah! ‘Pa amb tomaquet I embotit’ (toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomato and oil and a small piece of cured meat or ham). My parents were working when we were kids – me, my brother and sister – and if my Mum was stressed or tired at the end of the day then she’d just prepare this plate and I loved it. Bread with some ‘fuet’. It’s not so healthy, and I know if I’m going to be a vegetarian then it will be over with but I will make the effort to be veggie. The bread stays though: there is no way I could get rid of the bread! Images : KTM, Sebas Romero, Gold and Goose
  6. A RACING LIFE: HOW KTM’S FEMALE EXCELLENCE HELPS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN MOTOGP™ Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is a team punching its weight in the ‘prize’ division of MotoGP™. It is a collective of almost fifty full-time people of different ages, nationalities, cultures and genders. The grand prix paddock is a strange environment: a mini society of diverse backgrounds, educations, beliefs. Most of all it is a home of expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm for sport, bikes and competition. Andrea Cantó @SebasRomero In the technical side of the garage each person has a specific role to play in helping Pol Espargaro and Mika Kallio find the precious tenths of a second they need in the nineteen rounds of the FIM World Championship. (Even) in 2019, motorcycle racing – and perhaps international level motorsport on the whole – is a male dominated world but KTM are one of the very few elite level squads to subvert that trend and depend on the nuance and skills of at least three women to help make their MotoGP™ project tick. We decided to ask Data Strategy Engineer Jenny Anderson from Britain, Analyst Andrea Cantó and Team Coordinator Beatriz Garcia both from Spain about their jobs and how people – not just women – can hope to follow their path and work at the peak of motorcycling competition. Jenny Anderson @SebasRomero OK, first of all tell us about the day-to-day work in Red Bull KTM Factory Racing … Jenny Anderson: For me I guess there are two parts: there is the bit at home – which is preparation for the event and the analysis after the event – and then there’s the work around data at the track itself. Leading up to a GP I will look at data from previous days at a circuit and I’ll try and prepare a base. I am the link between the engine and the rider. If you gave the rider just a cable from his hand to the engine then it would be hard to handle because there is so much power in these bikes. So I tweak the torque levels corner-by-corner, the traction control, the wheelie control and the engine braking to make it easier for him to ride and for better performance. I do all of this as a base before we arrive to a GP and then I work with Pol during a session and he will say “I need more,” I need less” and we tune as we go along. Andrea Cantó: I do the tire analysis for all four KTM riders. I talk to the Crew Chiefs and they tell me the plan they have for the tires for the day and then they supply me with the comments from the riders. We try to analyze the data to see if everything is in line and then make a plan for the next day and eventually for Sunday. The target is to figure out which tire will be the best for the race because some will have a very high performance in the beginning but then drop a lot faster, some have less performance but more consistency. It is about trying to find the one for each racetrack. I’ve worked for nine seasons in racing and was a long time inMoto2™; there it was simpler and we only had two specs of tire instead of three. I was a data engineer then so doing analysis in general and not only on tires. Beatriz Garcia: I have responsibilities at the circuit and I am always working because I am ahead of everybody and also focussing on the next events. When I’m here in the paddock we travel Tuesday and set-up everything on Wednesday so everybody can work. Then I start with organization of the paddock passes for guests and sponsors. I’m booking all the flights and hotels and moving everybody from one place to another. Usually it is around 50 people and sometimes the WP guys and Moto3™ because I am the connection with the factory. Then things like hiring grid girls. It is more the human side of the racing team; anything away from the spares, parts and bikes I take care of. Jenny: The electronics department is quite a broad range of people. Each rider will have a strategy person and then there is someone who is the overall manager and will be the link between us as well as giving help and advice with our job. We also have people working on the electronic hardware and doing the tools. The cause of any difficulty for the rider is not just electronics because they work with the chassis and also the suspension. But if there is a problem that can be fixed by electronics then they will be looking right at you. Andrea: It was a big change for me moving from that Moto2™ role. At the beginning I wondered ‘do you really need one person to analyze tires?’ but I don’t get bored or have time to get bored! It’s worth having that person. It might not change the result but it makes the Crew Chief’s job easier. What I have learned this year is that you get a general perspective of what is happening on the four bikes but not really the specifics of any single one; it is a bit of a different picture. Beatriz: The professionalism of a factory team compared to a Moto3™ team – where I worked before and you are always trying to stretch a euro to the maximum – is huge and I was scared in the beginning about how big the job would be. Also it was all-new. I set up my own system – like my colleagues – but it turned out to be very easy because everyone is so professional and experienced. It’s easy to work with these guys. Obviously there are still fires to put out, but people can focus on entirely on their jobs and if there is any other kind of problem then I will solve it. Beatriz Garcia @SebasRomero So how did you reach the confines of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing? Andrea: I wanted to work in MotoGP™. I wanted to be able to learn new stuff. I approached the team to ask if they needed anyone and they were full but I ended up being lucky because they had the budget for one more person. Jenny: I joined the project in 2015, before we had a MotoGP™ bike, and from working in the factory full-time and the electronics department. I have seen the RC16 go from zero to where we are now. I had quite an open role. My manager said “here’s the ECU for the bike we are going to build in the next six months, get something ready so it can run”. So it was a bit of everything, working with the guys on the engine on the dyno, connecting sensors, making test harnesses: it was much more hands-on at that time. Then we started testing with Mika and I was the data engineer for the test team, I then did a year in that same job for Pol and now I’m the strategy engineer for Pol. Beatriz: My first GP year was 2011 and my previous team used to buy the Moto3™ bikes from KTM so I had a lot of dealings with them and liked the way they worked. In 2016 I met Mike [Leitner, Team Manager] at the Catalan GP, and in September I had confirmation and started in October. Andrea: The first three or four months I had a full overload of information. There were so many new things. You try to ‘push them in’ but there is no space! It slowly starts to sink in and I still don’t know half of the things that are possible with these bikes. The good thing about being here is that you can see and feel the development. Everybody is doing something that has almost started from zero. In another place I think you would just be handed an established platform with less room to grow. Andrea Cantó @SebasRomero It must be tough for anybody to break into this world and work in this paddock… Andrea: I went to college and then did the Monlau engineering school [famous institution in Spain]. I’m sorry to say but I think there is a big percentage of luck, especially when you don’t know anyone in the paddock. That was my case. What happened was that one week before an IRTA test somebody dropped out of a team and they could not find a replacement at that stage because everyone else with experience was taken. So they took the risk in giving a job to a newcomer. I think the teachers at Monlau recommended me and I got lucky. There are more and more motorcycling engineering course available now and post-graduate courses. Jenny: I grew up in motor racing. My Dad built kit-cars and my older brother got into karting. He was like a god to me and everything he did I wanted to do. At ten I started karting and started doing data almost as a hobby; I never realized it could lead into a job like I have now. I went from having one sensor to measure the RPM on my kart to looking at the gears and analyzing speed on different corner exits. It evolved as I added more sensors and got more information. I volunteered and did work for other people with data. When I left college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and ended up going to university quite late; I was 22 when I went to study motorsport engineering at Oxford Brookes University. I was working at a car racing team in F3 at the same time and the World Series by Renault. I worked with Kevin Magnussen in my first year actually. I then worked with them full time until this project came up with KTM. Beatriz: Contacts are everything. You need them in this world. You can be very good but if nobody knows you then you won’t get the chance to start. My nationality helped because I was able to start in the Spanish championship, that has a good profile. For the MotoGP™ class it is even harder because you need experience and other people in the paddock will ask about you. Andrea: In the end it is a high percentage of people coming back every year and rotating around the paddock. Even for me it was not easy to find a job in the MotoGP™ class. I knew others in Moto2™ because you have people with the same schedule. When other bikes are running you don’t pay attention and you miss the window to network. Talking about the job then I think you can learn different roles. If you have good knowledge then I think you can learn to do other stuff. Jenny Anderson @SebasRomero What’s the sacrifice? Beatriz: Everybody has their needs in this big group. I try to get to know everybody a little bit just to know preferences, interests, who has family and so on. It sounds stupid but the travelling is part of the job that is tiring and time-consuming. I cannot do much about a cancelled flight but I will try to do what I can to make sure people are happy getting to their job. Andrea: I think it is a kind of lifestyle where if you cross a mark then you don’t know how to do anything else, or to have a normal 9-5. I wouldn’t like to cross that point but it is difficult to know! You get so used to it, and even when we have built the garage then your place to work is always the same. It is a strange lifestyle. For people that stop working here then I think it is because the travelling finally ‘got’ to them. For the moment I am OK. I don’t mind the travelling but I know if I want to have a family then it will be difficult and I think for most of the women that left the paddock then this was the reason. I think, in some ways, we can be very equal with gender in this world but there is not much we can do about physical differences! Jenny: It’s not really a job: it’s a life choice. I’ve always spent a lot of weekends at a racetrack because it’s what I love to do. My friends don’t really understand what my job is and how many hours we work. People assume we turn up on a Friday, work a couple of 45 minute sessions and then we leave. Many don’t realize how much goes into it, and not just from us but also at the factory. People are working long hours all the time to achieve what we achieve. There is not a lot of downtime! Beatriz: When I talk about my job then a lot of people don’t know much about bikes. They tend to think I am just travelling around and visiting all these places. Other people who know about racing think it is very exciting and they are quite surprised sometimes. Nobody really knows what it is like behind the scenes. @SebasRomero What’s it like being part of this multi-national and eclectic race team? Andrea: I think with this job you also get to appreciate that there are good and bad points about everybody and every nationality. The Spanish are supposed to be lazy, the Italians are supposed to be cocky, the Austrians are supposed to be super-scheduled and you kind of appreciate that there is a truth to these thoughts but also there isn’t at all I like working with people from everywhere. Jenny: Often we spent sixteen hours a day for three days in a row with the same people. It’s important to be able to get-on. It is a hard job anyway but if we didn’t have this family atmosphere then it would be tougher. Away from the track we are a good group and we socialize a lot. There is a lot of camaraderie. It’s a big part of the job; when you get chosen then it is as much for how well you’ll fit into the team as for what or how much you know. You need positive and motivated people. Beatriz: I love it actually. You get to know different cultures and you can see how different we all are. There are stereotypes…and generally they are true! Andrea: My mum made me take English lessons from when I was eight! Normally the people here who know another languages then don’t have too much difficulty to pick up another one; it’s incredible actually. Franco Morbidelli can speak anything and Miguel [Oliveira] speaks Spanish, English, Italian and French: where does it all come from?! I’m super-jealous. Beatriz: I never found any bad attitudes or reactions to me. I think you need to be quite open to fit into a team and people will respect you, especially if you can do a good job. Jenny: From my experience in cars, drivers often bring the money for a single-seater one-make series spot and it gives them a lot of clout about whom they want to work with. They might not want to work with a woman or it’s because your face doesn’t fit or you are English, Spanish or French. Here or anywhere I don’t think gender really comes into it much any more or no more than any other sport. When I was karting I’d be the only girl in a paddock of two hundred people and I have seen – just in my lifetime – how many more women are now working in motorsport both as drivers or engineering and that can only be positive. — Images: Sebas Romero, KTM
  7. A RACING LIFE: HOW KTM’S FEMALE EXCELLENCE HELPS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN MOTOGP™ Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is a team punching its weight in the ‘prize’ division of MotoGP™. It is a collective of almost fifty full-time people of different ages, nationalities, cultures and genders. The grand prix paddock is a strange environment: a mini society of diverse backgrounds, educations, beliefs. Most of all it is a home of expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm for sport, bikes and competition. Andrea Cantó @SebasRomero In the technical side of the garage each person has a specific role to play in helping Pol Espargaro and Mika Kallio find the precious tenths of a second they need in the nineteen rounds of the FIM World Championship. (Even) in 2019, motorcycle racing – and perhaps international level motorsport on the whole – is a male dominated world but KTM are one of the very few elite level squads to subvert that trend and depend on the nuance and skills of at least three women to help make their MotoGP™ project tick. We decided to ask Data Strategy Engineer Jenny Anderson from Britain, Analyst Andrea Cantó and Team Coordinator Beatriz Garcia both from Spain about their jobs and how people – not just women – can hope to follow their path and work at the peak of motorcycling competition. Jenny Anderson @SebasRomero OK, first of all tell us about the day-to-day work in Red Bull KTM Factory Racing … Jenny Anderson: For me I guess there are two parts: there is the bit at home – which is preparation for the event and the analysis after the event – and then there’s the work around data at the track itself. Leading up to a GP I will look at data from previous days at a circuit and I’ll try and prepare a base. I am the link between the engine and the rider. If you gave the rider just a cable from his hand to the engine then it would be hard to handle because there is so much power in these bikes. So I tweak the torque levels corner-by-corner, the traction control, the wheelie control and the engine braking to make it easier for him to ride and for better performance. I do all of this as a base before we arrive to a GP and then I work with Pol during a session and he will say “I need more,” I need less” and we tune as we go along. Andrea Cantó: I do the tire analysis for all four KTM riders. I talk to the Crew Chiefs and they tell me the plan they have for the tires for the day and then they supply me with the comments from the riders. We try to analyze the data to see if everything is in line and then make a plan for the next day and eventually for Sunday. The target is to figure out which tire will be the best for the race because some will have a very high performance in the beginning but then drop a lot faster, some have less performance but more consistency. It is about trying to find the one for each racetrack. I’ve worked for nine seasons in racing and was a long time inMoto2™; there it was simpler and we only had two specs of tire instead of three. I was a data engineer then so doing analysis in general and not only on tires. Beatriz Garcia: I have responsibilities at the circuit and I am always working because I am ahead of everybody and also focussing on the next events. When I’m here in the paddock we travel Tuesday and set-up everything on Wednesday so everybody can work. Then I start with organization of the paddock passes for guests and sponsors. I’m booking all the flights and hotels and moving everybody from one place to another. Usually it is around 50 people and sometimes the WP guys and Moto3™ because I am the connection with the factory. Then things like hiring grid girls. It is more the human side of the racing team; anything away from the spares, parts and bikes I take care of. Jenny: The electronics department is quite a broad range of people. Each rider will have a strategy person and then there is someone who is the overall manager and will be the link between us as well as giving help and advice with our job. We also have people working on the electronic hardware and doing the tools. The cause of any difficulty for the rider is not just electronics because they work with the chassis and also the suspension. But if there is a problem that can be fixed by electronics then they will be looking right at you. Andrea: It was a big change for me moving from that Moto2™ role. At the beginning I wondered ‘do you really need one person to analyze tires?’ but I don’t get bored or have time to get bored! It’s worth having that person. It might not change the result but it makes the Crew Chief’s job easier. What I have learned this year is that you get a general perspective of what is happening on the four bikes but not really the specifics of any single one; it is a bit of a different picture. Beatriz: The professionalism of a factory team compared to a Moto3™ team – where I worked before and you are always trying to stretch a euro to the maximum – is huge and I was scared in the beginning about how big the job would be. Also it was all-new. I set up my own system – like my colleagues – but it turned out to be very easy because everyone is so professional and experienced. It’s easy to work with these guys. Obviously there are still fires to put out, but people can focus on entirely on their jobs and if there is any other kind of problem then I will solve it. Beatriz Garcia @SebasRomero So how did you reach the confines of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing? Andrea: I wanted to work in MotoGP™. I wanted to be able to learn new stuff. I approached the team to ask if they needed anyone and they were full but I ended up being lucky because they had the budget for one more person. Jenny: I joined the project in 2015, before we had a MotoGP™ bike, and from working in the factory full-time and the electronics department. I have seen the RC16 go from zero to where we are now. I had quite an open role. My manager said “here’s the ECU for the bike we are going to build in the next six months, get something ready so it can run”. So it was a bit of everything, working with the guys on the engine on the dyno, connecting sensors, making test harnesses: it was much more hands-on at that time. Then we started testing with Mika and I was the data engineer for the test team, I then did a year in that same job for Pol and now I’m the strategy engineer for Pol. Beatriz: My first GP year was 2011 and my previous team used to buy the Moto3™ bikes from KTM so I had a lot of dealings with them and liked the way they worked. In 2016 I met Mike [Leitner, Team Manager] at the Catalan GP, and in September I had confirmation and started in October. Andrea: The first three or four months I had a full overload of information. There were so many new things. You try to ‘push them in’ but there is no space! It slowly starts to sink in and I still don’t know half of the things that are possible with these bikes. The good thing about being here is that you can see and feel the development. Everybody is doing something that has almost started from zero. In another place I think you would just be handed an established platform with less room to grow. Andrea Cantó @SebasRomero It must be tough for anybody to break into this world and work in this paddock… Andrea: I went to college and then did the Monlau engineering school [famous institution in Spain]. I’m sorry to say but I think there is a big percentage of luck, especially when you don’t know anyone in the paddock. That was my case. What happened was that one week before an IRTA test somebody dropped out of a team and they could not find a replacement at that stage because everyone else with experience was taken. So they took the risk in giving a job to a newcomer. I think the teachers at Monlau recommended me and I got lucky. There are more and more motorcycling engineering course available now and post-graduate courses. Jenny: I grew up in motor racing. My Dad built kit-cars and my older brother got into karting. He was like a god to me and everything he did I wanted to do. At ten I started karting and started doing data almost as a hobby; I never realized it could lead into a job like I have now. I went from having one sensor to measure the RPM on my kart to looking at the gears and analyzing speed on different corner exits. It evolved as I added more sensors and got more information. I volunteered and did work for other people with data. When I left college I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and ended up going to university quite late; I was 22 when I went to study motorsport engineering at Oxford Brookes University. I was working at a car racing team in F3 at the same time and the World Series by Renault. I worked with Kevin Magnussen in my first year actually. I then worked with them full time until this project came up with KTM. Beatriz: Contacts are everything. You need them in this world. You can be very good but if nobody knows you then you won’t get the chance to start. My nationality helped because I was able to start in the Spanish championship, that has a good profile. For the MotoGP™ class it is even harder because you need experience and other people in the paddock will ask about you. Andrea: In the end it is a high percentage of people coming back every year and rotating around the paddock. Even for me it was not easy to find a job in the MotoGP™ class. I knew others in Moto2™ because you have people with the same schedule. When other bikes are running you don’t pay attention and you miss the window to network. Talking about the job then I think you can learn different roles. If you have good knowledge then I think you can learn to do other stuff. Jenny Anderson @SebasRomero What’s the sacrifice? Beatriz: Everybody has their needs in this big group. I try to get to know everybody a little bit just to know preferences, interests, who has family and so on. It sounds stupid but the travelling is part of the job that is tiring and time-consuming. I cannot do much about a cancelled flight but I will try to do what I can to make sure people are happy getting to their job. Andrea: I think it is a kind of lifestyle where if you cross a mark then you don’t know how to do anything else, or to have a normal 9-5. I wouldn’t like to cross that point but it is difficult to know! You get so used to it, and even when we have built the garage then your place to work is always the same. It is a strange lifestyle. For people that stop working here then I think it is because the travelling finally ‘got’ to them. For the moment I am OK. I don’t mind the travelling but I know if I want to have a family then it will be difficult and I think for most of the women that left the paddock then this was the reason. I think, in some ways, we can be very equal with gender in this world but there is not much we can do about physical differences! Jenny: It’s not really a job: it’s a life choice. I’ve always spent a lot of weekends at a racetrack because it’s what I love to do. My friends don’t really understand what my job is and how many hours we work. People assume we turn up on a Friday, work a couple of 45 minute sessions and then we leave. Many don’t realize how much goes into it, and not just from us but also at the factory. People are working long hours all the time to achieve what we achieve. There is not a lot of downtime! Beatriz: When I talk about my job then a lot of people don’t know much about bikes. They tend to think I am just travelling around and visiting all these places. Other people who know about racing think it is very exciting and they are quite surprised sometimes. Nobody really knows what it is like behind the scenes. @SebasRomero What’s it like being part of this multi-national and eclectic race team? Andrea: I think with this job you also get to appreciate that there are good and bad points about everybody and every nationality. The Spanish are supposed to be lazy, the Italians are supposed to be cocky, the Austrians are supposed to be super-scheduled and you kind of appreciate that there is a truth to these thoughts but also there isn’t at all I like working with people from everywhere. Jenny: Often we spent sixteen hours a day for three days in a row with the same people. It’s important to be able to get-on. It is a hard job anyway but if we didn’t have this family atmosphere then it would be tougher. Away from the track we are a good group and we socialize a lot. There is a lot of camaraderie. It’s a big part of the job; when you get chosen then it is as much for how well you’ll fit into the team as for what or how much you know. You need positive and motivated people. Beatriz: I love it actually. You get to know different cultures and you can see how different we all are. There are stereotypes…and generally they are true! Andrea: My mum made me take English lessons from when I was eight! Normally the people here who know another languages then don’t have too much difficulty to pick up another one; it’s incredible actually. Franco Morbidelli can speak anything and Miguel [Oliveira] speaks Spanish, English, Italian and French: where does it all come from?! I’m super-jealous. Beatriz: I never found any bad attitudes or reactions to me. I think you need to be quite open to fit into a team and people will respect you, especially if you can do a good job. Jenny: From my experience in cars, drivers often bring the money for a single-seater one-make series spot and it gives them a lot of clout about whom they want to work with. They might not want to work with a woman or it’s because your face doesn’t fit or you are English, Spanish or French. Here or anywhere I don’t think gender really comes into it much any more or no more than any other sport. When I was karting I’d be the only girl in a paddock of two hundred people and I have seen – just in my lifetime – how many more women are now working in motorsport both as drivers or engineering and that can only be positive. — Images: Sebas Romero, KTM
  8. FOCUS ON AKRAPOVIČ: THE BRAINS BEHIND THE BRAWN It’s no secret that synergy has helped KTM and Akrapovič grow from strength to strength across their over 20-year relationship working together to deliver the best products not just for KTM Factory Racing teams, but for every rider too. KTM Blog takes a closer look into the past, present and future of this solid partnership. @Sebas Romero Some quick facts: 130 world titles, 76 achieved with KTM, 9 Red Dot awards for design accrued over 28 years of operation. Founded by an ex-racer who used his passion for motorsport to develop market leading hardware in terms of both quality and performance and a name synonymous with the best. This can only be one company: Akrapovič. To see how the great achievements celebrated in the top tiers of motorcycle racing filter down to the products available to the grass roots racer, KTM Blog talks with some of the brains behind the brawn of Akrapovič, Head of Racing R&D, Alojz “Slavko” Trstenjak. Slavko Trstenjak @Akrapovič Slavko has been working alongside Igor Akrapovič since the infancy of the market leading manufacturer, with his own responsibilities, experience and book of stories growing along with the company and its now 1200 plus strong team. “I started working full-time for Akrapovič at the beginning of 1993, but I’d already been working with the company a few months before that. At the beginning I worked as a mechanic, as an engine builder, because at that time the company specialized in motorcycle tuning, and it was later that it specialized in exhaust systems. During the first years we were all multitasking, we were involved in several areas, which was necessary because there were very few of us at the company, less than ten. After that I focused on work with Igor Akrapovič on the dyno as a tester, looking for and defining new exhaust configurations. I did that for almost ten years. After that I took over leadership of the still relatively small R&D department – and in a few years it expanded to over 40 engineers in the department. Later I shifted to managing the Racing R&D department for developing racing exhausts for all kinds of motorcycles.” Joel Smets (2003) @KTM During this time the Slovenian company has celebrated a staggering number of victories across a wide array of disciplines, when asked Slavko proudly recalled some of his personal highlights: “An unforgettable milestone for sure was our first world champion using an Akrapovič exhaust – Colin Edwards on a Honda in the WorldSBK series. This title was won after almost ten years of hard development work and visiting countless WorldSBK races and the German championship. Before this, there was an important achievement a year earlier, when we partnered with all the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in WorldSBK. All the Japanese factory teams and Aprilia relied on our know-how and our achievements. Personally, as a big offroad enthusiast, I was very satisfied when I was also able to help the company start developing exhausts for Offroad motorcycles, and we saw our first successes with these pretty quickly, including the first world champion title on motocross with KTM and Joël Smets, and we also celebrated success in the Dakar Rally with a two-cylinder KTM.” The special relationship between KTM and Akrapovič ensures the highest levels of quality and a seamless fit. Thierry Van Den Bosch (2004) @KTM “From the very beginning, cooperation between KTM and Akrapovič was based on exchanging information in the early phase of development while seeking the best solutions together. Over the years of cooperation, we had a big impact on the design trend of exhaust systems on production bikes manufactured by KTM, especially in the offroad segment. Our engineers are usually already involved in the early phase of designing the motorcycle itself and in preproduction bikes, where we usually prepare prototypes for KTM’s basic testing; these are essential for developing other components of the bike in the development phase. This work method especially applies to certain motorsport categories like MotoGP™, where developing the exhaust system takes place at the same time as developing the other components, and toward the end all the components are fused into a complete whole. These days all the parts can be developed in a 3D model, and then the 3D models are exchanged among the engineers. The work takes place simultaneously.” There are some differences in the design process for production bikes compared to those intended for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teams. This is mostly due to timing as new designs are developed in racing first, and then there are some other factors to consider. Slavko explained further for us: “If we’re talking about bikes that are intended exclusively for racing, we usually develop their exhaust systems before our exhausts used for production motorcycles. When we’re talking about the general production bikes sold by KTM, the Racing R&D department doesn’t have anything to do with that; they’re developed separately, between KTM and Akrapovič’s R&D department. Here engineers already closely cooperate in the development phase and with the first prototypes, which determine the development guidelines based on the demands that define today’s development of exhaust systems, such as shapes and environmental requirements regarding emissions and noise restrictions.” Fabrizio Meoni (2004) @KTM “For racing exhausts, I can confirm that the shape is developed exclusively in our Racing R&D department, and we provide the guidelines. For exhaust systems installed on production bikes like the Adventure segment and all others, as far as the shape is concerned, KTM designers are also involved. We follow the principle “form follows function” and we work so that the exhaust systems are made to be used, for which we have lots of feedback and invaluable experience from close cooperation with the factory racing teams that use our exhaust systems.” Although Slavko is not overseeing the work carried out for production bikes, this does not mean that the hard work of his team does not greatly influence the design of the product. “We absolutely use the knowledge and experience from the Racing department for production bikes. Looking at offroad bikes, it’s an advantage to the end-users that they receive an exhaust system that’s virtually identical to the one the KTM factory teams are racing with – for example, what Cairoli, Herlings, Prado, and others are using. Most times there are minimal changes because of certain components required by layout, but regarding performance, weight, and other characteristics we try to retain the characteristics as much as possible from the racing environment to the production exhaust. With the exhaust systems for enduro and extreme enduro, it’s a nearly identical system” Antonio Cairoli (2012) @KTM Each racing environment demands different specifications in order to meet the needs of the rider, and ultimately win. Thanks to their broad team of engineers and scientists Akrapovič can control all factors of the design of the exhaust. Using an in-house metallurgical laboratory, they can even predetermine the titanium’s properties before being formed, ensuring the perfect finish. Slavko went on to explain some of the differences that can be seen between disciplines: “The finish itself involves an added value that’s been present since the very beginnings of the Akrapovič company. With a lot of exhaust systems, we further increased their durability through the use of custom materials; for example, Rally is the only motorcycle series in which we use special 1.2 mm thick titanium, and not tubes with the usual 0.9 mm thickness. We know that Rally is a very long race where the exhaust has to survive the entire race for amateur racers – an unforgiving two-week torture test. This is why the choice of material and optimizing it is really important. In MotoGP™, for example, there’s a big emphasis on weight, but this isn’t the main reason we use 0.65 mm thick tubes. At the same time, we have to make sure that the material can withstand the high temperatures, stresses, and pressures that are created in the exhaust system, and so we dedicate great attention to the choice of material and constant checks. All of this already takes place in the very selection of the material supplier.” “The Akrapovič brand is known for its race-proven products; it was born in races that we know demand performance, light weight, great sound, drivability, throttle response, and other characteristics. For a product to achieve this, you have to give it your all and pay attention to every detail, to every gram, to every mounting element.” Brad Binder (2016) @FocusPollution If you stop to ask any motorcyclist about what makes Akrapovič stand out, then quality and this precise attention to detail will come up. The vast majority will answer with the distinctive sound. “Considering all the different categories of motorsport that exist today, it’s clear that we can’t ensure the characteristic Akrapovič sound for each and every one of them – but it’s true that we strive to make that sound a pleasure sound as much as possible. It’s impossible to compare the sounds of so many different championships – say, from enduro to MotoGP™. Oftentimes the configuration determines the sound produced by these instruments, but we make great efforts to tune them well, so they produce the very best sound for both the rider and the environment.” After creating various designs, simulating models and manufacturing prototypes comes the real testing. Even in an age of advanced computer technologies and accurate simulations, Akrapovič follow an intense program of both dyno runs and real-world testing as ultimately the success of the product on track is directly related to riders’ preferences. Pol Espargaro (2018) @Sebas Romero “In the offroad segment we make use of testing on the motocross track near the company, and we also carry out a lot of testing on it with racers and teams. We also take part in factory team tests held at various locations, usually in Italy and Belgium, where they’re held in the winter. There we make the “final touch” and choose the configuration. The dyno is only a tool for making measurements and obtaining results, but the dyno itself doesn’t decide which configuration is the best. Here, as developers and engineers, we have to make a preselection, and we leave the final choice to the racing riders. Our philosophy is that the end user has to be satisfied. If the rider isn’t satisfied with the character of the power, with the responsiveness of the engine, then – regardless of the results that can be measured on the dyno – we haven’t achieved our goal. Conceptually, the development of an exhaust system begins on the drawing board or at the computer and with creating a prototype. This is followed by comparative testing on the dyno, and after that even more testing. These tests are often carried out by our test riders, and after them the factory racers do the final testing. In this way we can evaluate our feedback on the configurations, see if we’re working in the right direction, and whether the feedback result is relevant or not.” “Each exhaust is unique, a development story in itself; we don’t have universal exhaust systems. Each exhaust is made for a very specific kind of motorcycle, developed to optimize its power, reduce its weight, and satisfy any type-approval requirements that apply to that kind of system.” Nathan Watson (2019) @Future7Media And there’s no resting on their laurels either! Constant development and product evolution go on year on year, with new products released as they maintain their position as the world’s premier exhaust manufacturer. This can be seen in the release of an all new look for the KTM ENDURO MY20 range. “A new shape is a new beginning for the EXC family era. We’ve been working on the most stress-laden parts of the exhaust system, weak points, and research directions to improve the current exhaust and optimize it. This is why we moved to the “relief profile” of the exterior sleeve, which ensures greater durability, better scratch resistance, and more resilience to the impacts and damage that can be expected in enduro use every day. The development goal is to preserve the maximum volume in a limited space along with ensuring the lowest sound level friendly to the environment.” @Akrapovič To round things up we asked Slavko to summarize what he thinks is the number one benefit of an Akrapovič exhaust is to a KTM rider, regardless of their level of riding: “The biggest benefit to end customers is that when they use our exhaust systems, they really get identical materials and solutions, and often also the identical exhaust system configuration that we create for factory bikes. End users buy what we produce for world champions, regardless of whether they’re racers or recreational riders. The end user gets a product that’s the result of working together with factory teams. This is really important to me.” Images: KTM, Akrapovič
  9. FOCUS ON AKRAPOVIČ: THE BRAINS BEHIND THE BRAWN

    FOCUS ON AKRAPOVIČ: THE BRAINS BEHIND THE BRAWN It’s no secret that synergy has helped KTM and Akrapovič grow from strength to strength across their over 20-year relationship working together to deliver the best products not just for KTM Factory Racing teams, but for every rider too. KTM Blog takes a closer look into the past, present and future of this solid partnership. @Sebas Romero Some quick facts: 130 world titles, 76 achieved with KTM, 9 Red Dot awards for design accrued over 28 years of operation. Founded by an ex-racer who used his passion for motorsport to develop market leading hardware in terms of both quality and performance and a name synonymous with the best. This can only be one company: Akrapovič. To see how the great achievements celebrated in the top tiers of motorcycle racing filter down to the products available to the grass roots racer, KTM Blog talks with some of the brains behind the brawn of Akrapovič, Head of Racing R&D, Alojz “Slavko” Trstenjak. Slavko Trstenjak @Akrapovič Slavko has been working alongside Igor Akrapovič since the infancy of the market leading manufacturer, with his own responsibilities, experience and book of stories growing along with the company and its now 1200 plus strong team. “I started working full-time for Akrapovič at the beginning of 1993, but I’d already been working with the company a few months before that. At the beginning I worked as a mechanic, as an engine builder, because at that time the company specialized in motorcycle tuning, and it was later that it specialized in exhaust systems. During the first years we were all multitasking, we were involved in several areas, which was necessary because there were very few of us at the company, less than ten. After that I focused on work with Igor Akrapovič on the dyno as a tester, looking for and defining new exhaust configurations. I did that for almost ten years. After that I took over leadership of the still relatively small R&D department – and in a few years it expanded to over 40 engineers in the department. Later I shifted to managing the Racing R&D department for developing racing exhausts for all kinds of motorcycles.” Joel Smets (2003) @KTM During this time the Slovenian company has celebrated a staggering number of victories across a wide array of disciplines, when asked Slavko proudly recalled some of his personal highlights: “An unforgettable milestone for sure was our first world champion using an Akrapovič exhaust – Colin Edwards on a Honda in the WorldSBK series. This title was won after almost ten years of hard development work and visiting countless WorldSBK races and the German championship. Before this, there was an important achievement a year earlier, when we partnered with all the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in WorldSBK. All the Japanese factory teams and Aprilia relied on our know-how and our achievements. Personally, as a big offroad enthusiast, I was very satisfied when I was also able to help the company start developing exhausts for Offroad motorcycles, and we saw our first successes with these pretty quickly, including the first world champion title on motocross with KTM and Joël Smets, and we also celebrated success in the Dakar Rally with a two-cylinder KTM.” The special relationship between KTM and Akrapovič ensures the highest levels of quality and a seamless fit. Thierry Van Den Bosch (2004) @KTM “From the very beginning, cooperation between KTM and Akrapovič was based on exchanging information in the early phase of development while seeking the best solutions together. Over the years of cooperation, we had a big impact on the design trend of exhaust systems on production bikes manufactured by KTM, especially in the offroad segment. Our engineers are usually already involved in the early phase of designing the motorcycle itself and in preproduction bikes, where we usually prepare prototypes for KTM’s basic testing; these are essential for developing other components of the bike in the development phase. This work method especially applies to certain motorsport categories like MotoGP™, where developing the exhaust system takes place at the same time as developing the other components, and toward the end all the components are fused into a complete whole. These days all the parts can be developed in a 3D model, and then the 3D models are exchanged among the engineers. The work takes place simultaneously.” There are some differences in the design process for production bikes compared to those intended for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teams. This is mostly due to timing as new designs are developed in racing first, and then there are some other factors to consider. Slavko explained further for us: “If we’re talking about bikes that are intended exclusively for racing, we usually develop their exhaust systems before our exhausts used for production motorcycles. When we’re talking about the general production bikes sold by KTM, the Racing R&D department doesn’t have anything to do with that; they’re developed separately, between KTM and Akrapovič’s R&D department. Here engineers already closely cooperate in the development phase and with the first prototypes, which determine the development guidelines based on the demands that define today’s development of exhaust systems, such as shapes and environmental requirements regarding emissions and noise restrictions.” Fabrizio Meoni (2004) @KTM “For racing exhausts, I can confirm that the shape is developed exclusively in our Racing R&D department, and we provide the guidelines. For exhaust systems installed on production bikes like the Adventure segment and all others, as far as the shape is concerned, KTM designers are also involved. We follow the principle “form follows function” and we work so that the exhaust systems are made to be used, for which we have lots of feedback and invaluable experience from close cooperation with the factory racing teams that use our exhaust systems.” Although Slavko is not overseeing the work carried out for production bikes, this does not mean that the hard work of his team does not greatly influence the design of the product. “We absolutely use the knowledge and experience from the Racing department for production bikes. Looking at offroad bikes, it’s an advantage to the end-users that they receive an exhaust system that’s virtually identical to the one the KTM factory teams are racing with – for example, what Cairoli, Herlings, Prado, and others are using. Most times there are minimal changes because of certain components required by layout, but regarding performance, weight, and other characteristics we try to retain the characteristics as much as possible from the racing environment to the production exhaust. With the exhaust systems for enduro and extreme enduro, it’s a nearly identical system” Antonio Cairoli (2012) @KTM Each racing environment demands different specifications in order to meet the needs of the rider, and ultimately win. Thanks to their broad team of engineers and scientists Akrapovič can control all factors of the design of the exhaust. Using an in-house metallurgical laboratory, they can even predetermine the titanium’s properties before being formed, ensuring the perfect finish. Slavko went on to explain some of the differences that can be seen between disciplines: “The finish itself involves an added value that’s been present since the very beginnings of the Akrapovič company. With a lot of exhaust systems, we further increased their durability through the use of custom materials; for example, Rally is the only motorcycle series in which we use special 1.2 mm thick titanium, and not tubes with the usual 0.9 mm thickness. We know that Rally is a very long race where the exhaust has to survive the entire race for amateur racers – an unforgiving two-week torture test. This is why the choice of material and optimizing it is really important. In MotoGP™, for example, there’s a big emphasis on weight, but this isn’t the main reason we use 0.65 mm thick tubes. At the same time, we have to make sure that the material can withstand the high temperatures, stresses, and pressures that are created in the exhaust system, and so we dedicate great attention to the choice of material and constant checks. All of this already takes place in the very selection of the material supplier.” “The Akrapovič brand is known for its race-proven products; it was born in races that we know demand performance, light weight, great sound, drivability, throttle response, and other characteristics. For a product to achieve this, you have to give it your all and pay attention to every detail, to every gram, to every mounting element.” Brad Binder (2016) @FocusPollution If you stop to ask any motorcyclist about what makes Akrapovič stand out, then quality and this precise attention to detail will come up. The vast majority will answer with the distinctive sound. “Considering all the different categories of motorsport that exist today, it’s clear that we can’t ensure the characteristic Akrapovič sound for each and every one of them – but it’s true that we strive to make that sound a pleasure sound as much as possible. It’s impossible to compare the sounds of so many different championships – say, from enduro to MotoGP™. Oftentimes the configuration determines the sound produced by these instruments, but we make great efforts to tune them well, so they produce the very best sound for both the rider and the environment.” After creating various designs, simulating models and manufacturing prototypes comes the real testing. Even in an age of advanced computer technologies and accurate simulations, Akrapovič follow an intense program of both dyno runs and real-world testing as ultimately the success of the product on track is directly related to riders’ preferences. Pol Espargaro (2018) @Sebas Romero “In the offroad segment we make use of testing on the motocross track near the company, and we also carry out a lot of testing on it with racers and teams. We also take part in factory team tests held at various locations, usually in Italy and Belgium, where they’re held in the winter. There we make the “final touch” and choose the configuration. The dyno is only a tool for making measurements and obtaining results, but the dyno itself doesn’t decide which configuration is the best. Here, as developers and engineers, we have to make a preselection, and we leave the final choice to the racing riders. Our philosophy is that the end user has to be satisfied. If the rider isn’t satisfied with the character of the power, with the responsiveness of the engine, then – regardless of the results that can be measured on the dyno – we haven’t achieved our goal. Conceptually, the development of an exhaust system begins on the drawing board or at the computer and with creating a prototype. This is followed by comparative testing on the dyno, and after that even more testing. These tests are often carried out by our test riders, and after them the factory racers do the final testing. In this way we can evaluate our feedback on the configurations, see if we’re working in the right direction, and whether the feedback result is relevant or not.” “Each exhaust is unique, a development story in itself; we don’t have universal exhaust systems. Each exhaust is made for a very specific kind of motorcycle, developed to optimize its power, reduce its weight, and satisfy any type-approval requirements that apply to that kind of system.” Nathan Watson (2019) @Future7Media And there’s no resting on their laurels either! Constant development and product evolution go on year on year, with new products released as they maintain their position as the world’s premier exhaust manufacturer. This can be seen in the release of an all new look for the KTM ENDURO MY20 range. “A new shape is a new beginning for the EXC family era. We’ve been working on the most stress-laden parts of the exhaust system, weak points, and research directions to improve the current exhaust and optimize it. This is why we moved to the “relief profile” of the exterior sleeve, which ensures greater durability, better scratch resistance, and more resilience to the impacts and damage that can be expected in enduro use every day. The development goal is to preserve the maximum volume in a limited space along with ensuring the lowest sound level friendly to the environment.” @Akrapovič To round things up we asked Slavko to summarize what he thinks is the number one benefit of an Akrapovič exhaust is to a KTM rider, regardless of their level of riding: “The biggest benefit to end customers is that when they use our exhaust systems, they really get identical materials and solutions, and often also the identical exhaust system configuration that we create for factory bikes. End users buy what we produce for world champions, regardless of whether they’re racers or recreational riders. The end user gets a product that’s the result of working together with factory teams. This is really important to me.” Images: KTM, Akrapovič
  10. SAM SUNDERLAND INTERVIEW – TALKING RALLYING WITH THE NEWLY CROWNED WORLD CHAMPION After more than 1,685 kilometres of riding, 1,346 kilometres of timed special stages, Sam Sunderland brought his KTM 450 RALLY home as runner-up at the recent Atacama Rally. More importantly, the British rider had earned himself enough points to claim the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – his first ever world title. @RallyZone With victories at rounds one and two of this year’s championship, Sam Sunderland was very much the man on form and favourite for the title. Going into the third round – the Atacama Rally in Chile – the 2017 Dakar Rally Champion had no plans to claim the title. The goal, as often is in the challenging world of rallying, was to get through the event safely and collect as many points as possible. “To be honest,” admits Sunderland, “I didn’t realise I could even win the world championship early. Not until the day before the final stage at Atacama. We were talking about the race and I made a joke to Jordi that if Pablo stopped, would I win the championship. Jordi then told me, the only thing I had to do to win was beat Kevin (Benavides) and the title was mine. That night it was all going around and around in my head – don’t make any mistakes, stay calm, just do what you’ve been doing. Rally is so mentally challenging with the long hours and the navigation – I think the team just didn’t tell me in case it upset my rhythm or affected my focus on that last stage. Luckily everything went well and the boys were there at the finish to celebrate.” @RallyZone Although Sam had topped the podium at the first two rounds, it was by no means an easy task. Both the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Silk Way Rally were seriously tough events. The Silk Way opened registrations to motorcycles for the first time ever in 2019 and with the event covering over 5,000 kilometres through Russia, Mongolia and China, the epic event tested riders, their bikes and their teams to the maximum. “Everyone went in to that event as rookies as it’s never been open to motorcycles before. It was a big learning experience. It’s true that the likes of Toby, Matthias and Pablo weren’t riding at the beginning of the season, but that just makes everyone else step up their game. HRC always field a strong team and were a real threat all season. No matter the competition, you still have to successfully complete each event too, and just finishing the Silk Way is an accomplishment in itself.” @RallyZone Fast forward to the Atacama Rally and Sam, once again, was riding the perfect event – consistent, yet fast stage times and making the minimum of mistakes on the fast, tricky-to-navigate timed specials. With the event’s marathon stage incorporating the two longest days of the rally, it was always going to be a challenge to get through the 800 kilometres without issue. For Sam, that issue came in the form of a bent rear disc. Facing a long stage four, the team decided to swap out the damaged item with one from a fellow teammates’ bike. “Changing the rear disc was more like a precaution – I had ridden most of that stage with the disc bent so it wasn’t too bad, I could just sense a bit of movement there. The danger is, if that small bend in the disc causes the brake to heat up, or the pads to wear out, I could be without a brake for the next stage, and it was the longest stage of the event. There is always a risk in changing something like that too – on the marathon stage you’re not allowed to receive any assistance from the team so everything has to be done by the riders. @RallyZone Normally I would have taken Matthias’ disc as he was lower down the order, but he had bent his disc too and it was possibly as bad as mine. Toby and I are really good friends and he just stepped up and said ‘sure, just use mine – no problems,’ he didn’t even question it, I guess it’s just what we do for each other in the team. For sure, I’d do the same for him, but what you have to remember is, he then had to ride the whole of the next stage with a rear brake that wasn’t 100 percent – it’s a real big ask, so I have to say thanks to him for what he did. As it happens, we finished one-two on that stage with Toby getting the stage win, so it worked out really well in the end.” The marathon stage was not completely without additional drama. Overnight, riders stay in a temporary bivouac, often in less comfortable conditions than they are used to. The Atacama was no exception and a few of the riders found it tough to get to sleep. @RallyZone “There was one funny story from the marathon stage,” laughs Sunderland, “there was a bit of an issue that night. The car guys were having a bit of a laugh and didn’t want to sleep and I think one of the bike riders had had enough – there was a bit of an argument, but it resolved itself ok and we all got some rest before the next day. The best thing about the marathon stages in rally is, it brings all the riders together, everyone is in the same situation with no comforts, no mechanics and quite often in the middle of nowhere. The Atacama was bad for me as when I got to the Bivouac, I went to get my phone out of my pocket and it had turned itself into a flip-phone – it was bent in two and the screen was all smashed – not what you need after a stage like that. The atmosphere is good though and it’s nice to spend time with the non-factory guys. They put a lot of hard work and time into racing the events and it’s good to hang out with them and relax.” On the final day in Chile, maintaining his impressive pace to the chequered flag, Sam did exactly what was needed to win the championship, with one round to spare. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team were waiting for him armed with the traditional celebratory banners and t-shirts. @RallyZone “It’s super-nice that they do it and it was a nice surprise when I crossed the finish line in Chile. To celebrate like that with the whole team is a really special feeling. I know the team have prepared t-shirts for me twice before and unfortunately they’ve had to stay in the bag when I twice finished runner-up in the championship.” Now with the championship decided, Sam can relax going into the final round – the Rally du Maroc – in Morocco in early October. With the focus already on Dakar Rally preparation, the Brit has the advantage that he can use the event to work on bike set up under full race conditions – a luxury not often possible when chasing a title. @RallyZone “Now the pressure is off, it will be nice to have a good safe run in Morocco without having to take any unnecessary risks. The best thing is, we’re able to test things and change a lot of settings mid-race. You’re not able to do that so much in a championship fight as you don’t want to change the way the bike feels or try something extreme that might not work at all. With no pressure, we can try new things as the rally goes on and to have that opportunity to test under full race conditions is a real advantage. Overall, I’m really happy with how the bike is feeling at the moment anyway, we made some big changes to the bike before Silk Way and then after that there were just the tweaks I wanted to try on the run up to the Atacama. I’m a racer though, racers always want to win, so when we get to Morocco, I’m still going to be taking things seriously, it’ll just be nice not to have to fight quite so hard.” After Christmas and New Year, it’ll be straight into the Dakar Rally and of course, its first year in Saudi Arabia. A Dubai resident for 10 years, Sam is looking forward to taking on the new challenge of the race in the Middle East. @RallyZone “For me, I was quite happy when I found out the Dakar would be held in Saudi. I have a good idea of the sort of terrain we’ll encounter and how the general mentality is and how the people are. All these things come together to help you feel more relaxed and comfortable when facing a race like the Dakar. One of the best things about a whole new race over new ground is that it’s a clean slate for everyone. Over recent years when we’ve been in South America, there’s always one local guy that goes fast – in Peru there’s a Peruvian guy that has some information on the stages, in Argentina there’s one Argentinian rider who is super-fast. With the Dakar moving to Saudi Arabia, it should be a fair race for all.” @RallyZone The goal for Dakar 2020 will be as always – to get through the event safely and secure a strong result. However, with Toby winning in 2016, Sam in 2017, Matthias claiming victory in 2018 and then Toby winning again this year, surely it must be Sam’s turn once again to pick up that iconic Dakar trophy? “That sounds pretty good! Of course, it’s the goal and once you have won once you want to get more – nothing else compares. When you win, you raise the bar to that level. When you come second people just say, ‘better luck next time’. For yourself, you know just how hard you tried and how close you came, but from the outside, second place is second place – it’s never enough. That’s racing I suppose, I want to win again and to put it simply, that’s what all the work is for.”
  11. SAM SUNDERLAND INTERVIEW – TALKING RALLYING WITH THE NEWLY CROWNED WORLD CHAMPION After more than 1,685 kilometres of riding, 1,346 kilometres of timed special stages, Sam Sunderland brought his KTM 450 RALLY home as runner-up at the recent Atacama Rally. More importantly, the British rider had earned himself enough points to claim the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship – his first ever world title. @RallyZone With victories at rounds one and two of this year’s championship, Sam Sunderland was very much the man on form and favourite for the title. Going into the third round – the Atacama Rally in Chile – the 2017 Dakar Rally Champion had no plans to claim the title. The goal, as often is in the challenging world of rallying, was to get through the event safely and collect as many points as possible. “To be honest,” admits Sunderland, “I didn’t realise I could even win the world championship early. Not until the day before the final stage at Atacama. We were talking about the race and I made a joke to Jordi that if Pablo stopped, would I win the championship. Jordi then told me, the only thing I had to do to win was beat Kevin (Benavides) and the title was mine. That night it was all going around and around in my head – don’t make any mistakes, stay calm, just do what you’ve been doing. Rally is so mentally challenging with the long hours and the navigation – I think the team just didn’t tell me in case it upset my rhythm or affected my focus on that last stage. Luckily everything went well and the boys were there at the finish to celebrate.” @RallyZone Although Sam had topped the podium at the first two rounds, it was by no means an easy task. Both the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and the Silk Way Rally were seriously tough events. The Silk Way opened registrations to motorcycles for the first time ever in 2019 and with the event covering over 5,000 kilometres through Russia, Mongolia and China, the epic event tested riders, their bikes and their teams to the maximum. “Everyone went in to that event as rookies as it’s never been open to motorcycles before. It was a big learning experience. It’s true that the likes of Toby, Matthias and Pablo weren’t riding at the beginning of the season, but that just makes everyone else step up their game. HRC always field a strong team and were a real threat all season. No matter the competition, you still have to successfully complete each event too, and just finishing the Silk Way is an accomplishment in itself.” @RallyZone Fast forward to the Atacama Rally and Sam, once again, was riding the perfect event – consistent, yet fast stage times and making the minimum of mistakes on the fast, tricky-to-navigate timed specials. With the event’s marathon stage incorporating the two longest days of the rally, it was always going to be a challenge to get through the 800 kilometres without issue. For Sam, that issue came in the form of a bent rear disc. Facing a long stage four, the team decided to swap out the damaged item with one from a fellow teammates’ bike. “Changing the rear disc was more like a precaution – I had ridden most of that stage with the disc bent so it wasn’t too bad, I could just sense a bit of movement there. The danger is, if that small bend in the disc causes the brake to heat up, or the pads to wear out, I could be without a brake for the next stage, and it was the longest stage of the event. There is always a risk in changing something like that too – on the marathon stage you’re not allowed to receive any assistance from the team so everything has to be done by the riders. @RallyZone Normally I would have taken Matthias’ disc as he was lower down the order, but he had bent his disc too and it was possibly as bad as mine. Toby and I are really good friends and he just stepped up and said ‘sure, just use mine – no problems,’ he didn’t even question it, I guess it’s just what we do for each other in the team. For sure, I’d do the same for him, but what you have to remember is, he then had to ride the whole of the next stage with a rear brake that wasn’t 100 percent – it’s a real big ask, so I have to say thanks to him for what he did. As it happens, we finished one-two on that stage with Toby getting the stage win, so it worked out really well in the end.” The marathon stage was not completely without additional drama. Overnight, riders stay in a temporary bivouac, often in less comfortable conditions than they are used to. The Atacama was no exception and a few of the riders found it tough to get to sleep. @RallyZone “There was one funny story from the marathon stage,” laughs Sunderland, “there was a bit of an issue that night. The car guys were having a bit of a laugh and didn’t want to sleep and I think one of the bike riders had had enough – there was a bit of an argument, but it resolved itself ok and we all got some rest before the next day. The best thing about the marathon stages in rally is, it brings all the riders together, everyone is in the same situation with no comforts, no mechanics and quite often in the middle of nowhere. The Atacama was bad for me as when I got to the Bivouac, I went to get my phone out of my pocket and it had turned itself into a flip-phone – it was bent in two and the screen was all smashed – not what you need after a stage like that. The atmosphere is good though and it’s nice to spend time with the non-factory guys. They put a lot of hard work and time into racing the events and it’s good to hang out with them and relax.” On the final day in Chile, maintaining his impressive pace to the chequered flag, Sam did exactly what was needed to win the championship, with one round to spare. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team were waiting for him armed with the traditional celebratory banners and t-shirts. @RallyZone “It’s super-nice that they do it and it was a nice surprise when I crossed the finish line in Chile. To celebrate like that with the whole team is a really special feeling. I know the team have prepared t-shirts for me twice before and unfortunately they’ve had to stay in the bag when I twice finished runner-up in the championship.” Now with the championship decided, Sam can relax going into the final round – the Rally du Maroc – in Morocco in early October. With the focus already on Dakar Rally preparation, the Brit has the advantage that he can use the event to work on bike set up under full race conditions – a luxury not often possible when chasing a title. @RallyZone “Now the pressure is off, it will be nice to have a good safe run in Morocco without having to take any unnecessary risks. The best thing is, we’re able to test things and change a lot of settings mid-race. You’re not able to do that so much in a championship fight as you don’t want to change the way the bike feels or try something extreme that might not work at all. With no pressure, we can try new things as the rally goes on and to have that opportunity to test under full race conditions is a real advantage. Overall, I’m really happy with how the bike is feeling at the moment anyway, we made some big changes to the bike before Silk Way and then after that there were just the tweaks I wanted to try on the run up to the Atacama. I’m a racer though, racers always want to win, so when we get to Morocco, I’m still going to be taking things seriously, it’ll just be nice not to have to fight quite so hard.” After Christmas and New Year, it’ll be straight into the Dakar Rally and of course, its first year in Saudi Arabia. A Dubai resident for 10 years, Sam is looking forward to taking on the new challenge of the race in the Middle East. @RallyZone “For me, I was quite happy when I found out the Dakar would be held in Saudi. I have a good idea of the sort of terrain we’ll encounter and how the general mentality is and how the people are. All these things come together to help you feel more relaxed and comfortable when facing a race like the Dakar. One of the best things about a whole new race over new ground is that it’s a clean slate for everyone. Over recent years when we’ve been in South America, there’s always one local guy that goes fast – in Peru there’s a Peruvian guy that has some information on the stages, in Argentina there’s one Argentinian rider who is super-fast. With the Dakar moving to Saudi Arabia, it should be a fair race for all.” @RallyZone The goal for Dakar 2020 will be as always – to get through the event safely and secure a strong result. However, with Toby winning in 2016, Sam in 2017, Matthias claiming victory in 2018 and then Toby winning again this year, surely it must be Sam’s turn once again to pick up that iconic Dakar trophy? “That sounds pretty good! Of course, it’s the goal and once you have won once you want to get more – nothing else compares. When you win, you raise the bar to that level. When you come second people just say, ‘better luck next time’. For yourself, you know just how hard you tried and how close you came, but from the outside, second place is second place – it’s never enough. That’s racing I suppose, I want to win again and to put it simply, that’s what all the work is for.”
  12. LONG LIVE THE DUKE! CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF KTM DUKE HISTORY – Part 2 A quarter of a century ago, KTM took the public by surprise by launching the KTM 620 DUKE. At the time, the Austrian manufacturer was known for its off-road motorcycles, so no one was expecting the release of a radical street bike. Today, all KTM Naked Bikes bear the name DUKE, from the KTM 125 DUKE right through to the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R… KTM 990 SUPER DUKE @KTM Back in 1992, before the original DUKE series was launched, some KTM technicians had been experimenting with a road bike, featuring two LC4 engines in a special housing, each with a capacity of 553 cc. But the machine with the tubular trellis frame was no more than a thought experiment, a vision. At the time, few thought it would become a reality as the company had only just relaunched following insolvency a few months prior. KTM 950 DUKE Prototype @KTM Then, at INTERMOT 2000 in Munich, KTM unveiled a brand-new two-cylinder project that was to be ready for series production three years later in the form of the KTM 950 ADVENTURE. Of course, similarly to the DUKE with the LC4 in its time, there were also thoughts of producing a road model featuring the ultra-modern LC8 V2 engine. In 2003, KTM’s 50th anniversary year, a prototype of a street bike with a two-cylinder motor was also released, known at the time as the KTM 950 DUKE, was launched alongside the KTM 950 ADVENTURE. Since those working on the project were able to use the components from the KTM 950 ADVENTURE for the 950 DUKE’s engine, the conditions for producing KTM’s first two-cylinder road bike were excellent. In fact, it not only made perfect sense for the KTM 950 DUKE to be shown as a prototype at exhibitions, but also to develop it for series production. KTM 990 SUPER DUKE @KTM Then in 2004, once again at INTERMOT in Munich, the result, now called the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE, was on display for all to admire—a lighter and more maneuverable machine than anything that had come before it in the large-capacity Naked Bike segment. More than anything, the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE stood out from the competitors’ products thanks to its unique design and Kiska’s unmistakable angular lettering. The KTM 990 SUPER DUKE was powered by the V2 engine, which had been increased to a capacity of 999 cc and could achieve 120 hp. The SUPER DUKE R, a particularly sporty street fighter with 132 hp at its disposal, followed in 2007. The bike could easily be distinguished from the basic version at a glance thanks to the “R” that stood out against the orange painted frame. KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R @KISKA The KTM 990 SUPER DUKE’s successor, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, was available from 2014 and promised endless power. The constructors were able to draw on unlimited resources for the chassis. In the tubular trellis frame, a single-sided swing arm guided the rear wheel with wide 190 tires, while the lean-angle-sensitive traction control (MTC—motorcycle traction control) and the Bosch two-channel ABS were included as standard from the start. “THE BEAST”, the world’s most powerful naked bike, is still as raw, brutal and extreme as it’s always been. KTM 390 DUKE @KISKA At the other end of the KTM portfolio are the entry-level bikes from 125 to 390 cc, which are built at Bajaj Auto Ltd. in India. Twelve years ago, KTM and Bajaj entered into an extensive partnership with the objective of developing powerful liquid-cooled four-stroke engines, which KTM wanted to use as a basis for street motorcycles in the then-unconquered Street entry-level segment. This served to round off the existing range below the KTM 690 DUKE. KTM 125 DUKE @KISKA From 2011, the DUKE was available with 125 cc, 200 cc, and 390 cc; in 2017, the little DUKE was completely redesigned and is now hard to tell apart from larger bikes. The medium-sized KTM 200 DUKE now has 250 cc; the capacity for the 125 and 390 cc versions remained the same. Even the KTM 125 DUKE has LED headlights in the unmistakable BEAST style, a color TFT display and a tubular trellis frame included as standard alongside high-tech Brembo brake technology with ABS; this is complemented by high-quality accessories in the KTM PowerParts range, such as an Akrapovič slip-on silencer, Wave brake discs, and various luggage systems. KTM 790 DUKE @KISKA The latest member of the DUKE family is the KTM 790 DUKE, introduced in 2018, which really made waves when the prototype was unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in 2016. The KTM 790 DUKE is also known as “THE SCALPEL” owing to its precise handling. The high-tech two-cylinder series engine with 75° crankpin offset makes for a mesmerizing sound. Here, too, nothing is left to be desired, with cornering ABS, switchable traction control, slipper clutch, and quickshifter all included as standard. Twenty-five years after the DUKE—long since a cult bike—made its debut, KTM now has a DUKE in its range to suit all tastes. This starts from the entry-level 125 DUKE, which can be ridden by 16-year-olds, through to the “BEAST”, the super-powerful KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. There truly is something for everyone. Long Live the DUKE! Discover the latest KTM Naked bike range here: https://www.ktm.com/en/naked-bike/ Photos: KTM, Kiska
  13. LONG LIVE THE DUKE! CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF KTM DUKE HISTORY – Part 2 A quarter of a century ago, KTM took the public by surprise by launching the KTM 620 DUKE. At the time, the Austrian manufacturer was known for its off-road motorcycles, so no one was expecting the release of a radical street bike. Today, all KTM Naked Bikes bear the name DUKE, from the KTM 125 DUKE right through to the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R… KTM 990 SUPER DUKE @KTM Back in 1992, before the original DUKE series was launched, some KTM technicians had been experimenting with a road bike, featuring two LC4 engines in a special housing, each with a capacity of 553 cc. But the machine with the tubular trellis frame was no more than a thought experiment, a vision. At the time, few thought it would become a reality as the company had only just relaunched following insolvency a few months prior. KTM 950 DUKE Prototype @KTM Then, at INTERMOT 2000 in Munich, KTM unveiled a brand-new two-cylinder project that was to be ready for series production three years later in the form of the KTM 950 ADVENTURE. Of course, similarly to the DUKE with the LC4 in its time, there were also thoughts of producing a road model featuring the ultra-modern LC8 V2 engine. In 2003, KTM’s 50th anniversary year, a prototype of a street bike with a two-cylinder motor was also released, known at the time as the KTM 950 DUKE, was launched alongside the KTM 950 ADVENTURE. Since those working on the project were able to use the components from the KTM 950 ADVENTURE for the 950 DUKE’s engine, the conditions for producing KTM’s first two-cylinder road bike were excellent. In fact, it not only made perfect sense for the KTM 950 DUKE to be shown as a prototype at exhibitions, but also to develop it for series production. KTM 990 SUPER DUKE @KTM Then in 2004, once again at INTERMOT in Munich, the result, now called the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE, was on display for all to admire—a lighter and more maneuverable machine than anything that had come before it in the large-capacity Naked Bike segment. More than anything, the KTM 990 SUPER DUKE stood out from the competitors’ products thanks to its unique design and Kiska’s unmistakable angular lettering. The KTM 990 SUPER DUKE was powered by the V2 engine, which had been increased to a capacity of 999 cc and could achieve 120 hp. The SUPER DUKE R, a particularly sporty street fighter with 132 hp at its disposal, followed in 2007. The bike could easily be distinguished from the basic version at a glance thanks to the “R” that stood out against the orange painted frame. KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R @KISKA The KTM 990 SUPER DUKE’s successor, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R, was available from 2014 and promised endless power. The constructors were able to draw on unlimited resources for the chassis. In the tubular trellis frame, a single-sided swing arm guided the rear wheel with wide 190 tires, while the lean-angle-sensitive traction control (MTC—motorcycle traction control) and the Bosch two-channel ABS were included as standard from the start. “THE BEAST”, the world’s most powerful naked bike, is still as raw, brutal and extreme as it’s always been. KTM 390 DUKE @KISKA At the other end of the KTM portfolio are the entry-level bikes from 125 to 390 cc, which are built at Bajaj Auto Ltd. in India. Twelve years ago, KTM and Bajaj entered into an extensive partnership with the objective of developing powerful liquid-cooled four-stroke engines, which KTM wanted to use as a basis for street motorcycles in the then-unconquered Street entry-level segment. This served to round off the existing range below the KTM 690 DUKE. KTM 125 DUKE @KISKA From 2011, the DUKE was available with 125 cc, 200 cc, and 390 cc; in 2017, the little DUKE was completely redesigned and is now hard to tell apart from larger bikes. The medium-sized KTM 200 DUKE now has 250 cc; the capacity for the 125 and 390 cc versions remained the same. Even the KTM 125 DUKE has LED headlights in the unmistakable BEAST style, a color TFT display and a tubular trellis frame included as standard alongside high-tech Brembo brake technology with ABS; this is complemented by high-quality accessories in the KTM PowerParts range, such as an Akrapovič slip-on silencer, Wave brake discs, and various luggage systems. KTM 790 DUKE @KISKA The latest member of the DUKE family is the KTM 790 DUKE, introduced in 2018, which really made waves when the prototype was unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in 2016. The KTM 790 DUKE is also known as “THE SCALPEL” owing to its precise handling. The high-tech two-cylinder series engine with 75° crankpin offset makes for a mesmerizing sound. Here, too, nothing is left to be desired, with cornering ABS, switchable traction control, slipper clutch, and quickshifter all included as standard. Twenty-five years after the DUKE—long since a cult bike—made its debut, KTM now has a DUKE in its range to suit all tastes. This starts from the entry-level 125 DUKE, which can be ridden by 16-year-olds, through to the “BEAST”, the super-powerful KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R. There truly is something for everyone. Long Live the DUKE! Discover the latest KTM Naked bike range here: https://www.ktm.com/en/naked-bike/ Photos: KTM, Kiska LONG LIVE THE DUKE! CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF KTM DUKE HISTORY – PART 1
  14. THE NEXT CHAPTER IN KTM´S E-MOBILITY STORY: INTRODUCING THE KTM SX-E 5 Posted in Bikes, Riding KTM announced the launch of its latest model, the KTM SX-E 5 – an electrically powered junior model that’s innovative in design, READY TO RACE in performance and adaptable for the growing rider. The next step in e-mobility, the KTM SX-E 5 may be a great solution for encouraging new families to the sport, whilst offering another option for those who already love, ride and race dirtbikes. @KISKA As e-technology evolves, the next generation of riders are certainly likely to become more accustomed to e-powered vehicles in a world that becomes more and more familiar in using this technology. The KTM SX-E 5 not only represents KTM’s next step in e-powered motorcycles, it’s a premium junior product that grows with the rider both when it comes to ability and their size. In fact, one of the major features is that the bike can last a junior approximately five years as the seat h can be adjusted. It requires very little maintenance, just a bit of chain oiling. It makes hardly any noise. It’s easy to operate and it has a bunch of modes for the ability of the rider. Plus, KTM also offers an additional lowering kit so even the smallest riders can start with the bike early on. Pretty cool, eh? The masterminds behind the development of this project both have children that tested the bike and have been part of the process as the bike evolved. We know that some are skeptical about this kind of technology (without the sound of a motorcycle we’re all accustomed to and love), but when it comes to getting a child on such an adaptable bike from an early age, what’s not to like. Manfred Edlinger from KTM Research and Development, who is responsible for the motocross platform for all KTM SX models, explains: “The bike is so good as it is usable for all skills of all riders.” @KISKA “In my family my daughters were younger than five and with the KTM PowerParts lowering kit they could ride on the kids track right away after a few loops on the grass. Riding like that for the very first time on a motorcycle would absolutely not be possible with a combustion bike that has similar capabilities to a KTM 50 SX. To ride on a track the very first time on the bike is a big benefit. The KTM electric bike is a really complete package – my son that’s almost eight can finish on the podium at a local race, but also the same bike is usable for a four-year-old the very first-time riding,” said Edlinger. “This bike is so safe – it’s not only a READY TO RACE bike, but it’s also easy to operate. The kids can be quite independent with it, yet with the combustion bike it’s difficult for them to even get it started. If they are able to put on the boots and helmet alone, then they can also pretty much ride on their own. The bike doesn’t get hot, and it’s safer to let the children ride. It’s a completely new type of bike – high performance on the one hand, but also it’s a fun bike for improving skills at more locations. It’s a new era of youth riding.” @KISKA Development for this model has been similar to that of the full-size KTM SX models as raced by some of the best motocross athletes in the world. With comparable lap times to a KTM 50 SX as tested by a national level racer, it provides maximum performance with minimal noise – yet with a lot of other benefits. “I learned a lot about the advantages of the electric bike just by actually using it, and I have a lot of examples of things that make the bike easier – you can put it in the van without fixings as it can be laid down, when you wash the bike you can see there’s not so much oil around making it easier to clean there’s absolutely no maintenance – just some chain oil and that’s it. Even the tires last a lot longer due to the power delivery. All of this experience aside of the technical features I was able to explore a lot,” said Edlinger. @KISKA “We did a lot of work on the electric test benches and we had to build benches for this kind of engine and battery. We did a lot of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) calculations along with heat resistance and heat dissipation testing – the ribs on the battery are not just a matter of design, or just by trial and error, this was really developed with modern CFD calculations. We worked on all of the hardware of the chassis completely, using the same development tools as on the big bikes with hydro pulse test benches for the frame and the swingarm. The swingarm is a highlight as it’s a cast aluminum swingarm replacing the steel welded ‘old school’ version we’ve used previously,” concluded Edlinger. @KISKA Edlinger’s department worked closely with the dedicated E-mobility team in KTM R&D, which is headed by KTM Head of Electrics/Electronics Arno Ebner. Responsible for developing the motor and incredibly adaptable electronics for the KTM SX-E 5, Ebner has years of experience in e-technology. With the KTM SX-E 5 it was really important to provide the highest safety standard, something that Ebner was passionate about achieving, as well as a bike with controllable power that fits the READY TO RACE mantra. “The lowest mode is really smooth, with a low-end speed, and it’s even possible for parents to walk or run behind the bike. This is a big advantage over the combustion engine – the controllability of the throttle is really good compared with a combustion bike. One of the reasons that it’s easy to ride is due to a really fast response of the torque at the rear wheel. We see from national level junior rider that the lap times are similar to a 50cc combustion engine, or in some conditions they are even faster. You have this really direct and good controllable power, along with all of the advantages of an e-bike,” said Ebner. @KISKA “We tried to find the best balance in terms of safety and in terms of performance. Performance means good energy density to offer a lot of range in a small volume yet with a low weight. This is always a big issue because battery technology in general is really on a limit – we are using lithium-ion battery technology, and we have seen a steady development for improvements in this area over the last few years. I believe with the KTM SX-E 5 we really found a good solution,” continued the electrics expert. Hours and hours of testing, abuse testing, riding testing and so on have been done with these bikes, which have a lot of premium components including the frame, subframe, WP XACT 35 suspension and WP XACT shock absorber – it’s a special new technological revolution that can be enjoyed by such a wide range of riders. @KISKA With that in mind, it also means KTM continues its commitment to encouraging new riders to the sport, whilst keeping the READY TO RACE DNA right at the heart of every model produced. Perhaps the KTM SX-E 5 will encourage new families into the wonderful world of biking, whilst creating something special and different for already orange bleeders. .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; h: 0; overflow: hidden; max-w: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; w: 100%; h: 100%; } [embedded content] Photos: KISKA
  15. THE NEXT CHAPTER IN KTM´S E-MOBILITY STORY: INTRODUCING THE KTM SX-E 5 Posted in Bikes, Riding KTM announced the launch of its latest model, the KTM SX-E 5 – an electrically powered junior model that’s innovative in design, READY TO RACE in performance and adaptable for the growing rider. The next step in e-mobility, the KTM SX-E 5 may be a great solution for encouraging new families to the sport, whilst offering another option for those who already love, ride and race dirtbikes. @KISKA As e-technology evolves, the next generation of riders are certainly likely to become more accustomed to e-powered vehicles in a world that becomes more and more familiar in using this technology. The KTM SX-E 5 not only represents KTM’s next step in e-powered motorcycles, it’s a premium junior product that grows with the rider both when it comes to ability and their size. In fact, one of the major features is that the bike can last a junior approximately five years as the seat h can be adjusted. It requires very little maintenance, just a bit of chain oiling. It makes hardly any noise. It’s easy to operate and it has a bunch of modes for the ability of the rider. Plus, KTM also offers an additional lowering kit so even the smallest riders can start with the bike early on. Pretty cool, eh? The masterminds behind the development of this project both have children that tested the bike and have been part of the process as the bike evolved. We know that some are skeptical about this kind of technology (without the sound of a motorcycle we’re all accustomed to and love), but when it comes to getting a child on such an adaptable bike from an early age, what’s not to like. Manfred Edlinger from KTM Research and Development, who is responsible for the motocross platform for all KTM SX models, explains: “The bike is so good as it is usable for all skills of all riders.” @KISKA “In my family my daughters were younger than five and with the KTM PowerParts lowering kit they could ride on the kids track right away after a few loops on the grass. Riding like that for the very first time on a motorcycle would absolutely not be possible with a combustion bike that has similar capabilities to a KTM 50 SX. To ride on a track the very first time on the bike is a big benefit. The KTM electric bike is a really complete package – my son that’s almost eight can finish on the podium at a local race, but also the same bike is usable for a four-year-old the very first-time riding,” said Edlinger. “This bike is so safe – it’s not only a READY TO RACE bike, but it’s also easy to operate. The kids can be quite independent with it, yet with the combustion bike it’s difficult for them to even get it started. If they are able to put on the boots and helmet alone, then they can also pretty much ride on their own. The bike doesn’t get hot, and it’s safer to let the children ride. It’s a completely new type of bike – high performance on the one hand, but also it’s a fun bike for improving skills at more locations. It’s a new era of youth riding.” @KISKA Development for this model has been similar to that of the full-size KTM SX models as raced by some of the best motocross athletes in the world. With comparable lap times to a KTM 50 SX as tested by a national level racer, it provides maximum performance with minimal noise – yet with a lot of other benefits. “I learned a lot about the advantages of the electric bike just by actually using it, and I have a lot of examples of things that make the bike easier – you can put it in the van without fixings as it can be laid down, when you wash the bike you can see there’s not so much oil around making it easier to clean there’s absolutely no maintenance – just some chain oil and that’s it. Even the tires last a lot longer due to the power delivery. All of this experience aside of the technical features I was able to explore a lot,” said Edlinger. @KISKA “We did a lot of work on the electric test benches and we had to build benches for this kind of engine and battery. We did a lot of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) calculations along with heat resistance and heat dissipation testing – the ribs on the battery are not just a matter of design, or just by trial and error, this was really developed with modern CFD calculations. We worked on all of the hardware of the chassis completely, using the same development tools as on the big bikes with hydro pulse test benches for the frame and the swingarm. The swingarm is a highlight as it’s a cast aluminum swingarm replacing the steel welded ‘old school’ version we’ve used previously,” concluded Edlinger. @KISKA Edlinger’s department worked closely with the dedicated E-mobility team in KTM R&D, which is headed by KTM Head of Electrics/Electronics Arno Ebner. Responsible for developing the motor and incredibly adaptable electronics for the KTM SX-E 5, Ebner has years of experience in e-technology. With the KTM SX-E 5 it was really important to provide the highest safety standard, something that Ebner was passionate about achieving, as well as a bike with controllable power that fits the READY TO RACE mantra. “The lowest mode is really smooth, with a low-end speed, and it’s even possible for parents to walk or run behind the bike. This is a big advantage over the combustion engine – the controllability of the throttle is really good compared with a combustion bike. One of the reasons that it’s easy to ride is due to a really fast response of the torque at the rear wheel. We see from national level junior rider that the lap times are similar to a 50cc combustion engine, or in some conditions they are even faster. You have this really direct and good controllable power, along with all of the advantages of an e-bike,” said Ebner. @KISKA “We tried to find the best balance in terms of safety and in terms of performance. Performance means good energy density to offer a lot of range in a small volume yet with a low weight. This is always a big issue because battery technology in general is really on a limit – we are using lithium-ion battery technology, and we have seen a steady development for improvements in this area over the last few years. I believe with the KTM SX-E 5 we really found a good solution,” continued the electrics expert. Hours and hours of testing, abuse testing, riding testing and so on have been done with these bikes, which have a lot of premium components including the frame, subframe, WP XACT 35 suspension and WP XACT shock absorber – it’s a special new technological revolution that can be enjoyed by such a wide range of riders. @KISKA With that in mind, it also means KTM continues its commitment to encouraging new riders to the sport, whilst keeping the READY TO RACE DNA right at the heart of every model produced. Perhaps the KTM SX-E 5 will encourage new families into the wonderful world of biking, whilst creating something special and different for already orange bleeders. [embedded content] Photos: KISKA
  16. VIDEO: 2019 EUROPEAN KTM ADVENTURE RALLY COMPLETE HIGHLIGHTS Taking place earlier this summer in Bjelašnica, the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY allowed 150 KTM riders from 24 different countries to live the experience of a lifetime riding through the Bosnian wilderness. Revisiting the four-day-event, KTM Blog shares the full 22-minute highlights from this big adventure in the mountains of Southeastern Europe. @ F. Montero/KTM Held in the unexplored trails of Bosnia, the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY was a READY TO RACE community event that included breath-taking rides led by some of the world’s best offroad racers. Participants had the opportunity to test the latest KTM ADVENTURE range while also getting the first ever look at an exciting future KTM motorcycle. Some of them even tried their skills at the 2020 ULTIMATE RACE qualifiers… After two successful editions on Italian territory, playing host in 2019 was Bosnia and Herzegovina; the small but breath-taking country provided a backdrop of beautiful mountains, deep canyons, high plains, ice cold mountain lakes and crystal-clear rivers for the 150 riders, some coming from as far as Australia or Colombia. @ F. Montero/KTM After the first official day of riding, the 150 orange bleeders were exclusively presented the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY during a brief presentation. International racer and KTM ADVENTURE ambassador, Chris Birch, took the covers off the limited edition 2020 model. Along with the chance to test the latest KTM ADVENTURE range and ride with racing legends and KTM Factory Racing riders, the event also hosted a qualification round for the upcoming ULTIMATE RACE. Participation for the qualifiers is available for twin-cylinder KTM riders who take part in any of the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES held during 2019 and at the start of 2020. At each RALLY, special qualification events test the riders to show if they have the excellent machine control, navigational skill and competent mechanical ability required to line up on a rally-prepared KTM 790 ADVENTURE R in Morocco. Only the top two riders from each event are chosen and from Bosnia it was #41 Iker Iturregi from Spain and #120 Andrej Crnkovic from Slovenia who secured their places for the opportunity of a lifetime in the African dunes next year. Enjoy the complete 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY HIGHLIGHTS here: .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; h: 0; overflow: hidden; max-w: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; w: 100%; h: 100%; } [embedded content] Check out all the latest information on the KTM ADVENTURE RALLY here: ktm-adventure-rally.com Images: F. Montero/KTM
  17. VIDEO: 2019 EUROPEAN KTM ADVENTURE RALLY COMPLETE HIGHLIGHTS Taking place earlier this summer in Bjelašnica, the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY allowed 150 KTM riders from 24 different countries to live the experience of a lifetime riding through the Bosnian wilderness. Revisiting the four-day-event, KTM Blog shares the full 22-minute highlights from this big adventure in the mountains of Southeastern Europe. @ F. Montero/KTM Held in the unexplored trails of Bosnia, the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY was a READY TO RACE community event that included breath-taking rides led by some of the world’s best offroad racers. Participants had the opportunity to test the latest KTM ADVENTURE range while also getting the first ever look at an exciting future KTM motorcycle. Some of them even tried their skills at the 2020 ULTIMATE RACE qualifiers… After two successful editions on Italian territory, playing host in 2019 was Bosnia and Herzegovina; the small but breath-taking country provided a backdrop of beautiful mountains, deep canyons, high plains, ice cold mountain lakes and crystal-clear rivers for the 150 riders, some coming from as far as Australia or Colombia. @ F. Montero/KTM After the first official day of riding, the 150 orange bleeders were exclusively presented the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY during a brief presentation. International racer and KTM ADVENTURE ambassador, Chris Birch, took the covers off the limited edition 2020 model. Along with the chance to test the latest KTM ADVENTURE range and ride with racing legends and KTM Factory Racing riders, the event also hosted a qualification round for the upcoming ULTIMATE RACE. Participation for the qualifiers is available for twin-cylinder KTM riders who take part in any of the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES held during 2019 and at the start of 2020. At each RALLY, special qualification events test the riders to show if they have the excellent machine control, navigational skill and competent mechanical ability required to line up on a rally-prepared KTM 790 ADVENTURE R in Morocco. Only the top two riders from each event are chosen and from Bosnia it was #41 Iker Iturregi from Spain and #120 Andrej Crnkovic from Slovenia who secured their places for the opportunity of a lifetime in the African dunes next year. Enjoy the complete 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY HIGHLIGHTS here: [embedded content] Check out all the latest information on the KTM ADVENTURE RALLY here: ktm-adventure-rally.com Images: F. Montero/KTM
  18. LONG LIVE THE DUKE! CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF KTM DUKE HISTORY – PART 1 Celebrating 25 years from the release of the very first KTM 620 DUKE back in 1994, we take a closer look at the impressive history of KTM’s iconic single-cylinder machine through the last quarter of a century. KTM 620 DUKE MY1994 @ KTM With KTM starting its journey as a motorcycle manufacturer in 1953, visitors at the KTM Motohall will find three milestones in the brand’s 66-year-long history on display in Mattighofen. Alongside the R 100 [1953] and the Penton Six Day 125 [1968] – which kickstarted KTM’s rise into becoming the world’s leader for off-road bikes – visitors at the KTM Motohall can admire the model year 1994 KTM 620 DUKE, KTM’s first road bike with a 4-stroke engine. After the former KTM Motor-Fahrzeugbau AG became insolvent, KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH was launched in January 1992. The new company was keen to learn from the mistakes of the past when, at times, over 40 different types of machine had been in production at the same time, from bicycles to numerous different mopeds right through to off-road bikes. With this in mind, KTM focused in particular on the ultra-modern LC4 engine, a liquid-cooled single-cylinder 4-stroke engine, making it the envy of its Japanese competitors. The concept was simple: stick to just the essentials and build a high-performance and high-quality machine around the potent single-cylinder engine that was already winning in top level enduro competition. Even the E-starter was left out to begin with. Of course, it was clear that KTM would not be able to survive in the long term with just the Hard Enduro and a small range of 2-stroke Enduros and e-start bikes, so the developers soon started thinking about a road bike, also powered by the LC4 engine. At the time, supermotard replicas were vastly popular: these were easy-to-handle motorcycles based on Enduros, but with 17-inch road wheels—the term “supermoto” was still unknown at this point. Riding these fun bikes along windy lanes could drive the riders of significantly larger motorcycles to distraction. A bike like this—practically a go kart on two wheels—was a logical choice as there was already a suitable vehicle to base it on in the KTM 620 ENDURO. Terminator prototype @ KTM KTM designer Gerald Kiska’s initial design still bore the now-long-forgotten project name “Terminator”. Nonetheless, it was nearly impossible to tell that this bike was based on the Hard Enduro. A striking front fairing with ellipsoid double headlights combined with an orange-metallic paint job gave the DUKE its unique appearance. With 50 hp, the KTM 620 DUKE was the most powerful single-cylinder on the market at the time. There is also a nice story behind the name. Two weeks before the presentation, the exhibition bike still needed a distinctive name. Project Manager Wolfgang Felber recalls that he was on his way to the executive floor with a list of different suggestions when he ran into Kalman Cseh, who was responsible for these matters, on the stairs. Cseh liked the suggestion “Duke” right away; not so much due to its reference to legendary racer, Geoff Duke—who was almost unstoppable in the 1950s on his Norton single-cylinder bikes—but more for its royal connotations. Ultimately, the stickers designed by the graphic designers did include the English multiple world championship winner’s nickname, “The Duke”, so he was indeed honored after all. KTM 620 DUKE MY1995 @ KTM The DUKE—today often called DUKE I to distinguish it from later models—was only available each year in a limited run and in a certain color: orange in 1994, black in 1995, yellow in 1996, black again in 1997 and the “last edition” in 1998, which already had the larger 640-cc engine, was orange once again. So, exclusivity was also included in the price. After this, between 1999 and 2006, the KTM 640 DUKE II was built, still considered by many to be another two-wheeled piece of art. Gerald Kiska had perfected the edge design familiar from the automotive sector for motorcycles and since then all KTM motorcycles have borne Kiska’s angular lettering. And long before anyone in the automotive industry had thought of LED headlights, the KTM 640 DUKE II was the only motorcycle recognizable as a KTM just from a glance in the mirror. This was due to its two ellipsoid headlights, one on top of the other, a unique styling element in the motorcycle sector. For many years after the “original DUKE”, there weren’t even any KTM bikes with two headlights, let alone with two of them positioned one on top of the other. With slender cast aluminum wheels and two silencers directly underneath the seat, it was no longer possible to tell that this bike was based on an Enduro. As with the first DUKE before, the DUKE II was available in a different color each year. Titanium, orpheus black, arctic white, chili red and lime green were just a few of the options. The DUKE II also remained rather exclusive, not least due to its elevated price. KTM 690 DUKE MY2008 @ KTM The highlight at the 2006 INTERMOT 2006 motorcycle show was the polarizing KTM 690 SUPERMOTO, which was to be the forerunner to a whole range of sporty KTM single-cylinders. The completely redesigned single-cylinder with electronic fuel injection reached 63 hp, meaning KTM could still boast the ‘blue ribbon’ of the most powerful single-cylinders among its portfolio. The third generation of the DUKE, which followed in 2008, was different to its two predecessor models in that it bore no similarity to an Enduro, either visually or technically, but had been designed from scratch as a road bike. Highlights included the steel tube frame, a cast swingarm and above all the short silencer underneath the engine, as previously featured on the KTM RC8 superbike. In 2010, the KTM 690 DUKE R followed, upgraded with a host of KTM PowerParts and easily recognizable thanks to its orange frame, a feature of all KTM R models. KTM 690 DUKE MY2010 @ KTM A successor to the KTM 690 DUKE III then came in 2012, with space for a passenger and long-distance capability. The engine now had a full 690-cc capacity, so the DUKE retained its status as the most powerful single-cylinder engine available. The KTM 690 DUKE R was considerably more sporty in terms of its look, tuning, and seat position. The current version of the KTM 690 DUKE has been around since 2016. With an advanced electronic engine management system and a second balancer shaft, the 690 LC4 engine offers a level of sophistication previously unseen in a single-cylinder engine, while delivering an impressive 73 hp. What began 25 years ago with a now legendary cult classic continues today with the KTM 690 DUKE, with its modern styling and state-of-the-art technology. All this means that the DUKE has remained the most powerful series-production single-cylinder motorcycle for a quarter of a century. Long Live the DUKE! KTM 690 DUKE MY2018 @ KTM The very first KTM 620 DUKE and some of the most iconic DUKE models ever produced can be viewed at the KTM Motohall. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our special feature celebrating 25 years of KTM DUKE history. 1993 KTM 620 DUKE prototype @ KTM Images: KTM, Kiska
  19. LONG LIVE THE DUKE! CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF KTM DUKE HISTORY – PART 1 Celebrating 25 years from the release of the very first KTM 620 DUKE back in 1994, we take a closer look at the impressive history of KTM’s iconic single-cylinder machine through the last quarter of a century. KTM 620 DUKE MY1994 @ KTM With KTM starting its journey as a motorcycle manufacturer in 1953, visitors at the KTM Motohall will find three milestones in the brand’s 66-year-long history on display in Mattighofen. Alongside the R 100 [1953] and the Penton Six Day 125 [1968] – which kickstarted KTM’s rise into becoming the world’s leader for off-road bikes – visitors at the KTM Motohall can admire the model year 1994 KTM 620 DUKE, KTM’s first road bike with a 4-stroke engine. After the former KTM Motor-Fahrzeugbau AG became insolvent, KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH was launched in January 1992. The new company was keen to learn from the mistakes of the past when, at times, over 40 different types of machine had been in production at the same time, from bicycles to numerous different mopeds right through to off-road bikes. With this in mind, KTM focused in particular on the ultra-modern LC4 engine, a liquid-cooled single-cylinder 4-stroke engine, making it the envy of its Japanese competitors. The concept was simple: stick to just the essentials and build a high-performance and high-quality machine around the potent single-cylinder engine that was already winning in top level enduro competition. Even the E-starter was left out to begin with. Of course, it was clear that KTM would not be able to survive in the long term with just the Hard Enduro and a small range of 2-stroke Enduros and e-start bikes, so the developers soon started thinking about a road bike, also powered by the LC4 engine. At the time, supermotard replicas were vastly popular: these were easy-to-handle motorcycles based on Enduros, but with 17-inch road wheels—the term “supermoto” was still unknown at this point. Riding these fun bikes along windy lanes could drive the riders of significantly larger motorcycles to distraction. A bike like this—practically a go kart on two wheels—was a logical choice as there was already a suitable vehicle to base it on in the KTM 620 ENDURO. Terminator prototype @ KTM KTM designer Gerald Kiska’s initial design still bore the now-long-forgotten project name “Terminator”. Nonetheless, it was nearly impossible to tell that this bike was based on the Hard Enduro. A striking front fairing with ellipsoid double headlights combined with an orange-metallic paint job gave the DUKE its unique appearance. With 50 hp, the KTM 620 DUKE was the most powerful single-cylinder on the market at the time. There is also a nice story behind the name. Two weeks before the presentation, the exhibition bike still needed a distinctive name. Project Manager Wolfgang Felber recalls that he was on his way to the executive floor with a list of different suggestions when he ran into Kalman Cseh, who was responsible for these matters, on the stairs. Cseh liked the suggestion “Duke” right away; not so much due to its reference to legendary racer, Geoff Duke—who was almost unstoppable in the 1950s on his Norton single-cylinder bikes—but more for its royal connotations. Ultimately, the stickers designed by the graphic designers did include the English multiple world championship winner’s nickname, “The Duke”, so he was indeed honored after all. KTM 620 DUKE MY1995 @ KTM The DUKE—today often called DUKE I to distinguish it from later models—was only available each year in a limited run and in a certain color: orange in 1994, black in 1995, yellow in 1996, black again in 1997 and the “last edition” in 1998, which already had the larger 640-cc engine, was orange once again. So, exclusivity was also included in the price. After this, between 1999 and 2006, the KTM 640 DUKE II was built, still considered by many to be another two-wheeled piece of art. Gerald Kiska had perfected the edge design familiar from the automotive sector for motorcycles and since then all KTM motorcycles have borne Kiska’s angular lettering. And long before anyone in the automotive industry had thought of LED headlights, the KTM 640 DUKE II was the only motorcycle recognizable as a KTM just from a glance in the mirror. This was due to its two ellipsoid headlights, one on top of the other, a unique styling element in the motorcycle sector. For many years after the “original DUKE”, there weren’t even any KTM bikes with two headlights, let alone with two of them positioned one on top of the other. With slender cast aluminum wheels and two silencers directly underneath the seat, it was no longer possible to tell that this bike was based on an Enduro. As with the first DUKE before, the DUKE II was available in a different color each year. Titanium, orpheus black, arctic white, chili red and lime green were just a few of the options. The DUKE II also remained rather exclusive, not least due to its elevated price. KTM 690 DUKE MY2008 @ KTM The highlight at the 2006 INTERMOT 2006 motorcycle show was the polarizing KTM 690 SUPERMOTO, which was to be the forerunner to a whole range of sporty KTM single-cylinders. The completely redesigned single-cylinder with electronic fuel injection reached 63 hp, meaning KTM could still boast the ‘blue ribbon’ of the most powerful single-cylinders among its portfolio. The third generation of the DUKE, which followed in 2008, was different to its two predecessor models in that it bore no similarity to an Enduro, either visually or technically, but had been designed from scratch as a road bike. Highlights included the steel tube frame, a cast swingarm and above all the short silencer underneath the engine, as previously featured on the KTM RC8 superbike. In 2010, the KTM 690 DUKE R followed, upgraded with a host of KTM PowerParts and easily recognizable thanks to its orange frame, a feature of all KTM R models. KTM 690 DUKE MY2010 @ KTM A successor to the KTM 690 DUKE III then came in 2012, with space for a passenger and long-distance capability. The engine now had a full 690-cc capacity, so the DUKE retained its status as the most powerful single-cylinder engine available. The KTM 690 DUKE R was considerably more sporty in terms of its look, tuning, and seat position. The current version of the KTM 690 DUKE has been around since 2016. With an advanced electronic engine management system and a second balancer shaft, the 690 LC4 engine offers a level of sophistication previously unseen in a single-cylinder engine, while delivering an impressive 73 hp. What began 25 years ago with a now legendary cult classic continues today with the KTM 690 DUKE, with its modern styling and state-of-the-art technology. All this means that the DUKE has remained the most powerful series-production single-cylinder motorcycle for a quarter of a century. Long Live the DUKE! KTM 690 DUKE MY2018 @ KTM The very first KTM 620 DUKE and some of the most iconic DUKE models ever produced can be viewed at the KTM Motohall. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our special feature celebrating 25 years of KTM DUKE history. 1993 KTM 620 DUKE prototype @ KTM Images: KTM, Kiska
  20. THE ART OF BRAKING IN MOTOGP™ AND HOW TO MASTER IT Getting to the finish line first is what MotoGP™ is all about, but to make that happen, you need to be able to scrub off speed efficiently. We take a closer look at how braking force supplier extraordinaire Brembo successfully control the negative acceleration forces for all four Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP™ riders. @ Sebas Romero/KTM A braking system has to be as powerful as any engine; without it, riders would be better off in a drag race. Obviously, electronics play a big part in controlling power, but when push comes to shove something has to slow the massive horsepower the KTM RC16 unleashes. Partly, it’s down to the electronically controlled engine braking, but that leaves a lot more slowing the bike down to be desired. That’s where brakes come into play. Every single team in MotoGP™ – with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 being no exception – employs the services of Italian manufacturer Brembo S.p.A, who have been honing GP braking tech since the early 1980s. It’s an interesting yet naturally occurring monopoly. Unlike in the tires department, there’s no control brand when it comes to brakes in MotoGP™. Going with Brembo S.p.A is a choice made by the lot of them for the past three seasons. Andrea Pellegrini @ Guus van Goethem “Of course, that is a major compliment to the company,” explains Brembo’s chief engineer in MotoGP™ Andrea Pellegrini. “We’re very proud to have our products on every bike on the grid, but quite frankly we would really welcome the competition.” Andrea’s job is to keep each of the riders happy, but that’s no simple job. Or at least, that’s what his subtle smirk gives away. “All riders are always on the lookout for something more, something better. Not just in terms of horsepower, but in braking as well.” In order to cater to the riders’ needs, Brembo has quite the team ready to serve KTM and other manufacturers. At Brembo’s motorsport division in their hometown of Bergamo, 300 people are constantly developing newer and better parts, with MotoGP™ and Formula 1 taking up the largest part of their day to day work. @ KTM Endless possibilities Bergamo is located just northeast of Milan, where engineers work on different sorts of MotoGP™ braking parts. In order to give Pol Espargaró, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, and Hafizh Syahrin the best possible means to slow their racing machines down, Brembo brings a massive array of parts to the track. Four vital parts on the bikes bear the Brembo logo: master cylinders, brake calipers, brake pads and brake discs. In each of those four areas, riders are offered several options. Brake discs, for instance, come in two sizes; 320 and 340 mm. Apart from the difference in diameter, specific situations also require specific brake disc materials. The golden standard carbon-carbon composite comes in two variations, mostly different in terms of initial bite and brake ‘feel’. On top of that, Brembo also offers high-mass discs. Though they add extra speed scrubbing capability, they are a bit heavier than ‘regular’ brake discs. And then there’s the steel disc, used only in wet weather conditions. “We’ve been seeing a slight change in that riders are choosing the carbon-carbon discs in the rain now,” Pellegrini says. “The mechanics do mount a cover around the discs to stop the rain from cooling the discs to below their optimal operating temperature.” @ Sebas Romero/KTM In terms of master cylinders, calipers, pads and pad compounds, the variety of choice makes for endless possibilities. Pellegrini: “There’s nothing weird about the amount of variation we see among riders. Brakes are a very important piece of the puzzle that makes up a competitive race machine. Which parts are picked differs from one rider to the next. It’s all down to them; what suits them and their style of riding and braking. It’s down to the team to come up with a stable configuration for their rider to be able to trust his brakes. Swapping over and interchanging parts often doesn’t help the rider. They need a constant ‘brake feel’ in order to be fast.” According to Pellegrini, KTM RC16 mounted riders tend to stick to similar setups. “Both at the factory outfit as well as with Tech3; differences are minimal. They all seem to walk the same path in terms of brakes.” Brembo’s chief engineer knows just how well the KTM RC16 is on the brakes, though margins are minute. The rider’s riding style determines a lot in braking. “Contemporary GP bikes are very similar in terms of braking performance – once again with slight differences here and there. Some teams move the brake bias forward slightly, while others focus more on using the back brake. In the end, differences like that come down to a certain setting in suspension or engine braking, desiring a particular brake bias – more forward based or more towards the rear of the bike.” @ KTM Grip is everything Brake performance comes down to much more than just what Brembo brings to the table. The Michelin controlled tire plays a big role in this. “When MotoGP™ switched from Bridgestone to Michelin, riders were presented with a completely different brake feel, even though the brake system itself did not change. The Michelins offer far better grip, especially at the front, which allows for much better braking. Front end grip is the key to good braking performance. Without it, it’s impossible to slow the bike down. If you lack grip, the front tire would lock up and start to slide. The fact we can work with the extra grip from the Michelins really helps our brake systems to perform at a high level.” Another recent change in MotoGP™ also helps Brembo’s product to perform well. Pellegrini: “Aerodynamics are coming into play, which adds even more grip. That ups the ante even more when it comes to braking, allowing for later braking. Obviously, that puts even more severe forces on the brake system, but our components can handle those forces fine.” @ Sebas Romero/KTM In order to react to the constant changes in Grand Prix racing, Brembo is constantly working to improve their braking systems. In order to keep up, the Italian manufacturer gathers as much data as possible. The massive array of sensors that adorn MotoGP™ bikes nowadays also helps Brembo gain valuable data, like G-forces, brake distance, bike velocity and the temperatures that go with it all. These data helps Brembo improve brake components. “At the moment, development is focused on master cylinders and brake calipers. Those parts are constantly evolving, mostly because we’re allowed. The rules don’t allow for much when it comes to brake discs.” If it were up to Pellegrini, there should be more room for different materials. “Carbon ceramics would be interesting for MotoGP™. It’s much lighter than carbon-carbon and wear is minimal. It would greatly improve the lifespan of a brake disc.” @ Kiska Rule of thumb A recent development that has seen a lot of interest, is the thumb brake. It’s been used on race bikes since the early 90s, but more and more riders in MotoGP™ are trying it nowadays. The use of the thumb brake first came to the forefront after five-time world champion Mick Doohan was terribly injured at the Dutch Assen track. It was Brembo that came up with the solution of using the thumb to brake. Several riders saw benefits in using a thumb brake, but the idea never really caught on. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when thumb brakes started to become a big thing in GP racing. Recently, a couple of riders have been testing a new system that employs a lever similar to the front brake lever, though it’s used with the left hand and mounted parallel to the clutch lever. “These days riders really only use the clutch once during a race; for the start. So it’s perfectly okay for them to use their left hand to slow down the rear tire,” Pellegrini explains. The Italian expects more and more riders will start using the system. “A few riders have shown interest in the new rear brake setup, but I don’t expect riders to switch over mid-season. Just wait for winter testing; I believe you’ll see a couple more guys operating the rear brake like that.” @ Kiska The experience and technology going into MotoGP™ eventually end up on road bikes. Though carbon discs are not an option, there’s still loads of GP-derived braking technology on modern road bikes. Take the radial caliper mounting for instance, or monoblock calipers; born and bred on track. Recently, Brembo launched the GP4-MS caliper; also developed on the race track. “We’re not the only manufacturers that use racing to help develop motorcycle parts. Most bike riders will tell you brakes have taken a massive leap over the last few years. MotoGP™ development won’t stop, so Grand Prix technology seeping into road bikes won’t stop either.” Images: Sebar Romero, Kiska, Guus van Goethem, Shot Up Productions
  21. THE ART OF BRAKING IN MOTOGP™ AND HOW TO MASTER IT

    THE ART OF BRAKING IN MOTOGP™ AND HOW TO MASTER IT Getting to the finish line first is what MotoGP™ is all about, but to make that happen, you need to be able to scrub off speed efficiently. We take a closer look at how braking force supplier extraordinaire Brembo successfully control the negative acceleration forces for all four Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP™ riders. @ Sebas Romero/KTM A braking system has to be as powerful as any engine; without it, riders would be better off in a drag race. Obviously, electronics play a big part in controlling power, but when push comes to shove something has to slow the massive horsepower the KTM RC16 unleashes. Partly, it’s down to the electronically controlled engine braking, but that leaves a lot more slowing the bike down to be desired. That’s where brakes come into play. Every single team in MotoGP™ – with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 being no exception – employs the services of Italian manufacturer Brembo S.p.A, who have been honing GP braking tech since the early 1980s. It’s an interesting yet naturally occurring monopoly. Unlike in the tires department, there’s no control brand when it comes to brakes in MotoGP™. Going with Brembo S.p.A is a choice made by the lot of them for the past three seasons. Andrea Pellegrini @ Guus van Goethem “Of course, that is a major compliment to the company,” explains Brembo’s chief engineer in MotoGP™ Andrea Pellegrini. “We’re very proud to have our products on every bike on the grid, but quite frankly we would really welcome the competition.” Andrea’s job is to keep each of the riders happy, but that’s no simple job. Or at least, that’s what his subtle smirk gives away. “All riders are always on the lookout for something more, something better. Not just in terms of horsepower, but in braking as well.” In order to cater to the riders’ needs, Brembo has quite the team ready to serve KTM and other manufacturers. At Brembo’s motorsport division in their hometown of Bergamo, 300 people are constantly developing newer and better parts, with MotoGP™ and Formula 1 taking up the largest part of their day to day work. @ KTM Endless possibilities Bergamo is located just northeast of Milan, where engineers work on different sorts of MotoGP™ braking parts. In order to give Pol Espargaró, Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira, and Hafizh Syahrin the best possible means to slow their racing machines down, Brembo brings a massive array of parts to the track. Four vital parts on the bikes bear the Brembo logo: master cylinders, brake calipers, brake pads and brake discs. In each of those four areas, riders are offered several options. Brake discs, for instance, come in two sizes; 320 and 340 mm. Apart from the difference in diameter, specific situations also require specific brake disc materials. The golden standard carbon-carbon composite comes in two variations, mostly different in terms of initial bite and brake ‘feel’. On top of that, Brembo also offers high-mass discs. Though they add extra speed scrubbing capability, they are a bit heavier than ‘regular’ brake discs. And then there’s the steel disc, used only in wet weather conditions. “We’ve been seeing a slight change in that riders are choosing the carbon-carbon discs in the rain now,” Pellegrini says. “The mechanics do mount a cover around the discs to stop the rain from cooling the discs to below their optimal operating temperature.” @ Sebas Romero/KTM In terms of master cylinders, calipers, pads and pad compounds, the variety of choice makes for endless possibilities. Pellegrini: “There’s nothing weird about the amount of variation we see among riders. Brakes are a very important piece of the puzzle that makes up a competitive race machine. Which parts are picked differs from one rider to the next. It’s all down to them; what suits them and their style of riding and braking. It’s down to the team to come up with a stable configuration for their rider to be able to trust his brakes. Swapping over and interchanging parts often doesn’t help the rider. They need a constant ‘brake feel’ in order to be fast.” According to Pellegrini, KTM RC16 mounted riders tend to stick to similar setups. “Both at the factory outfit as well as with Tech3; differences are minimal. They all seem to walk the same path in terms of brakes.” Brembo’s chief engineer knows just how well the KTM RC16 is on the brakes, though margins are minute. The rider’s riding style determines a lot in braking. “Contemporary GP bikes are very similar in terms of braking performance – once again with slight differences here and there. Some teams move the brake bias forward slightly, while others focus more on using the back brake. In the end, differences like that come down to a certain setting in suspension or engine braking, desiring a particular brake bias – more forward based or more towards the rear of the bike.” @ KTM Grip is everything Brake performance comes down to much more than just what Brembo brings to the table. The Michelin controlled tire plays a big role in this. “When MotoGP™ switched from Bridgestone to Michelin, riders were presented with a completely different brake feel, even though the brake system itself did not change. The Michelins offer far better grip, especially at the front, which allows for much better braking. Front end grip is the key to good braking performance. Without it, it’s impossible to slow the bike down. If you lack grip, the front tire would lock up and start to slide. The fact we can work with the extra grip from the Michelins really helps our brake systems to perform at a high level.” Another recent change in MotoGP™ also helps Brembo’s product to perform well. Pellegrini: “Aerodynamics are coming into play, which adds even more grip. That ups the ante even more when it comes to braking, allowing for later braking. Obviously, that puts even more severe forces on the brake system, but our components can handle those forces fine.” @ Sebas Romero/KTM In order to react to the constant changes in Grand Prix racing, Brembo is constantly working to improve their braking systems. In order to keep up, the Italian manufacturer gathers as much data as possible. The massive array of sensors that adorn MotoGP™ bikes nowadays also helps Brembo gain valuable data, like G-forces, brake distance, bike velocity and the temperatures that go with it all. These data helps Brembo improve brake components. “At the moment, development is focused on master cylinders and brake calipers. Those parts are constantly evolving, mostly because we’re allowed. The rules don’t allow for much when it comes to brake discs.” If it were up to Pellegrini, there should be more room for different materials. “Carbon ceramics would be interesting for MotoGP™. It’s much lighter than carbon-carbon and wear is minimal. It would greatly improve the lifespan of a brake disc.” @ Kiska Rule of thumb A recent development that has seen a lot of interest, is the thumb brake. It’s been used on race bikes since the early 90s, but more and more riders in MotoGP™ are trying it nowadays. The use of the thumb brake first came to the forefront after five-time world champion Mick Doohan was terribly injured at the Dutch Assen track. It was Brembo that came up with the solution of using the thumb to brake. Several riders saw benefits in using a thumb brake, but the idea never really caught on. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when thumb brakes started to become a big thing in GP racing. Recently, a couple of riders have been testing a new system that employs a lever similar to the front brake lever, though it’s used with the left hand and mounted parallel to the clutch lever. “These days riders really only use the clutch once during a race; for the start. So it’s perfectly okay for them to use their left hand to slow down the rear tire,” Pellegrini explains. The Italian expects more and more riders will start using the system. “A few riders have shown interest in the new rear brake setup, but I don’t expect riders to switch over mid-season. Just wait for winter testing; I believe you’ll see a couple more guys operating the rear brake like that.” @ Kiska The experience and technology going into MotoGP™ eventually end up on road bikes. Though carbon discs are not an option, there’s still loads of GP-derived braking technology on modern road bikes. Take the radial caliper mounting for instance, or monoblock calipers; born and bred on track. Recently, Brembo launched the GP4-MS caliper; also developed on the race track. “We’re not the only manufacturers that use racing to help develop motorcycle parts. Most bike riders will tell you brakes have taken a massive leap over the last few years. MotoGP™ development won’t stop, so Grand Prix technology seeping into road bikes won’t stop either.” Images: Sebar Romero, Kiska, Guus van Goethem, Shot Up Productions
  22. MEET KTM’S MOST HARDCORE ADVENTURE BIKE FOR 2020: THE KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY Restricted to 500 units, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is for riders demanding the most hardcore performance combined with the very best suspension available. But why build this outstanding machine and how does the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY perform when ridden by experienced racer Chris Birch? @ Francesc Montero The third and newest member of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE family is positioned as the most travel capable rally bike. Based heavily on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R, this limited-edition model retains the same trellis chassis together with the potent 95hp LC8c parallel twin engine. The major component difference on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is the addition of the special WP XPLOR PRO suspension. Built in the same department as WP’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing equipment, it offers similar levels of performance for extreme riding. An additional 30mm of suspension travel front and back helps clear the most awkward obstacles and creates a seat h of 923mm for this unique model. @ Francesc Montero “Quite simply, we’ve built the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY because we can,” confirms KTM AG CMO Hubert Trunkenpolz. “At KTM we continually try to push ourselves and the development of our products. We have the equipment at our disposal and we know how to make a special bike for our hardcore customers. The new KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is exactly as it says: A rally bike ready for any adventure.” Going into detail on why and how this limited edition motorcycle was born, some of the key people behind the creation of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY share their story in this short video: [embedded content] One of the first riders to explore the potential of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY in real offroad conditions has been Chris Birch. Getting the unique chance to test the new model prior to the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY in the mountains of Bosnia, the experienced enduro and rally racer shares his feedback in the video below: [embedded content] Further details on pricing, availability and the ordering process for purchasing one of the limited number KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY machines will be announced in the months to come. @ Francesc Montero Photos: Francesc Montero/KTM
  23. MEET KTM’S MOST HARDCORE ADVENTURE BIKE FOR 2020: THE KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY Restricted to 500 units, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is for riders demanding the most hardcore performance combined with the very best suspension available. But why build this outstanding machine and how does the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY perform when ridden by experienced racer Chris Birch? @ Francesc Montero The third and newest member of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE family is positioned as the most travel capable rally bike. Based heavily on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R, this limited-edition model retains the same trellis chassis together with the potent 95hp LC8c parallel twin engine. The major component difference on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is the addition of the special WP XPLOR PRO suspension. Built in the same department as WP’s Red Bull KTM Factory Racing equipment, it offers similar levels of performance for extreme riding. An additional 30mm of suspension travel front and back helps clear the most awkward obstacles and creates a seat h of 923mm for this unique model. @ Francesc Montero “Quite simply, we’ve built the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY because we can,” confirms KTM AG CMO Hubert Trunkenpolz. “At KTM we continually try to push ourselves and the development of our products. We have the equipment at our disposal and we know how to make a special bike for our hardcore customers. The new KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY is exactly as it says: A rally bike ready for any adventure.” Going into detail on why and how this limited edition motorcycle was born, some of the key people behind the creation of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY share their story in this short video: [embedded content] One of the first riders to explore the potential of the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY in real offroad conditions has been Chris Birch. Getting the unique chance to test the new model prior to the 2019 European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY in the mountains of Bosnia, the experienced enduro and rally racer shares his feedback in the video below: [embedded content] Further details on pricing, availability and the ordering process for purchasing one of the limited number KTM 790 ADVENTURE R RALLY machines will be announced in the months to come. @ Francesc Montero Photos: Francesc Montero/KTM
  24. “I’M ADDICTED TO RIDING MY BIKE”: JORGE PRADO INTERVIEW The new double FIM MX2 Motocross World Champion opens up on a remarkable racing season, good and bad performances, motivation and being part of the best MXGP team in 2020… @ Ray Archer/KTM Is Jorge Prado one of the best 250cc riders ever? The eighteen-year-old phenomenon from Galicia – who spent five years in Belgium and is now based in Italy close to mentors Claudio de Carli and Tony Cairoli – has the goods and numbers to make a solid case. Amazing start skills with 20 holeshots from 30 starts so far in 2019, unbeatable pace and feisty racecraft all combined with the power of the KTM 250 SX-F. Prado is a product of the KTM ‘pipeline’ and the early signs were very bright and clear with Jorge taking a podium finish on his very first Grand Prix appearance at Assen in 2016. Less than three years later Prado holds two FIM Motocross World Championships and 29 GP victories. He is also the most prolific Spaniard in the history of the sport by far. He is 19 on January 5th and laid waste to MX2 in 2019: 14 wins from 15 rounds he contested, a 100% podium record, 27 chequered flags from 30 starts. Due to his second consecutive MX2 crown he is obliged to move to the MXGP division for 2020, where he will be part of an astonishing three-man line-up together with Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings. All three are boasting a collection of 15 FIM Motocross World Championship titles between them. @ Ray Archer/KTM We talk in the glistening confines of the Red Bull Energy Station at the Grand Prix of Sweden, where Prado would bag his second gold medal two rounds before the end of the season: he has become the third back-to-back MX2 world champion and the third for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing after Marvin Musquin (2009-2010) and Herlings (2012-2013). Fluent in three languages Jorge has a happy-go-lucky demeanour and an endearing trait of smiling quickly and easily. He can also mix comments and thoughts in a jovial manner but swiftly become serious. You leave with the impression that Prado is still a kid but also has hard self-discipline and can flip into a state of committed determination when he wants. There is very little doubt that MXGP will be terrorized next year… @ Ray Archer/KTM With 14 wins from 15 Grand Prix, does it ever feel like the victories just roll into each other? “I won every round I raced and it’s difficult to keep the focus every single time you go on the track because a small mistake means you don’t win a moto. It’s hard to stay on two wheels for a whole championship but it’s so important, also for the future: to know you can make that consistency. Sometimes when I get home or I am travelling back from the race I do stop and think ‘I’m doing an incredible job this season’. I thought at the beginning of the year that I could win many rounds – honestly – because I had the championship last year…but to take every single one is not easy at all.” When you say it is tough, you can understand why people might find that hard to believe because you make it look very easy… “Maybe from the outside it might look a bit easy but I am keeping my rhythm. In the last races I have been taking more distance over the second placed rider and I’m improving also: this is another goal next to winning the championship. I want to improve. Sometimes I don’t push too much because I want to manage risk but I want to ride the best I can each week. If I can ride smoothly then that’s better because I am always thinking about the future and I know the MXGP class will be hard. I need to grow up and get better.” How difficult is it to be disciplined and committed at 18 when you are so successful, when life is good and you are so far ahead? “Yeah, I have a think for that. You can ask the people around me. I remember I just started with my girlfriend and we were in Sardinia for the winter – a week before we were due to start testing – and I had an easy day ahead with just a run planned. I got up at 7.30 to do it and she could not understand how I could do that when I had the whole day. It’s funny but that’s just who I am. I’m very ordered with everything I do. I want to get my work done and then after you can relax. I am always thinking that the others are working and training more. I need to do what I do in the best way I can. I give my all…and sometimes a bit too much; the time to recover for the weekend can be too small. If you push too much in the week then you can have some consequences at the weekend, which I’ve had before. When I do something, I want to be better than the last time. I also know that work means you can win.” @ Ray Archer/KTM Has that ever caused motivation problems? Winning so much is one thing but perhaps the lack of a hard challenge means another type of test… “Hmmm, when Tony got injured it was different. We had always trained together and when he was hurt I didn’t have that partner. The first days were a bit disorientating and I didn’t know what to do. I would ride but it was weird being on the track alone. I wasn’t used to that. I’d trained by myself all my life and in the beginning it was difficult when I started to ride with Tony but I could always put challenges every time I went out there, whether it was a lap-time or trying to be smoother or small things like my father coming to corner and telling me I was slow in one particular area: and he does that a lot! It’s good that he sees where I can improve and he’s good at that.” Was there one race this year where you were really disappointed with your performance? Where you thought ‘I was terrible, this needs to get better…’? “Maybe the Qualification Heat at Loket [Grand Prix of Czech Republic]. I still won but I felt bad. Just didn’t have a good feeling. Then the first moto in France. I lost because I did not push. I knew Jago [Geerts] was there behind and it wasn’t a problem. I was still leading with two laps to go and thought ‘I’ve got it’ and I made a small mistake. He got a bit closer and I decided to push but ran into the backmarkers and then he got me. If I really wanted to I could have taken another two-three seconds from him with four laps to go, but I didn’t and paid for it. That was stupid. The second moto in Palembang [GP of Indonesia] I don’t know what was wrong there. I went from first to seventh. Something was not clicking. But then I made the switch and worked my way to the front. The race turned out well.” So, which race was the closest to perfection? “Obviously not this year yet – but I always get a feeling like that in Assen. I can ride so smooth at that place because of the type of sand and good starts are always important there; make the right start and you can afford to relax and ride like you want, with a bit more confidence. The second moto at Lommel [Grand Prix of Belgium] was good. I really wanted to make a gap in that race and pulled it out to thirty-five seconds until the last lap when I had a small crash. It was good, but still very tough.” @ Ray Archer/KTM Is there one trophy on the shelf that you can look at and think ‘that one is special, I really earned it…’? “This year has been a bit different. In many motos I made the start, got to first and then just had to focus on me and what I was doing and try not to make any mistakes. Last year with Pauls [Jonass] was a season where I look back now and think ‘that was so hard’. I started off badly in Argentina and it took me half a season to get the red plate, and another half for the title. With three rounds to go last year there were almost no points between us whereas this time I took the championship. It was a campaign where I had to push every single time. When I won I was like ‘yes!’ but looking back now it was hard racing, good racing and I was fighting a lot. This year has been incredible but different. The other riders have also been fast but I had a bit extra. I made fewer mistakes this year. The feeling around the results is different. In 2018 it was ‘Pauls, Pauls, Pauls: I need to beat him’. It was a nice championship.” So, the KTM 450 SX-F. Your first race will be the FIM Motocross of Nations. It will almost be like a test, right? “Yes, it will. It’s also because I have never ridden a 450. I want to make that clear.” Not even a single play ride? “The most I have done is half a lap at Malagrotta [Rome training base]. Ask Tony. We finished a training session back in February and I wanted to see if I could jump something. I took his bike and I don’t remember much of the sensation because the set-up was totally different for me so I was riding slowly. I hope I can start with the 450 soon because there is not much time until the Nations.” @ Ray Archer/KTM 2020 could be daunting as you won’t only be a rookie but also part of the best Grand Prix team ever. However, perhaps Jeffrey and Tony will have more pressure to be title contenders… “There is always pressure. Everybody wants you to win. Winning next year is not the main goal. Instead, I will be looking for improvement and trying to make a good season. I cannot tell you how I will feel in 2020 until I get used to the bike and compete against the other MXGP riders. Next year is the ‘rookie year’. An adventure. I need to keep learning and keep having fun. I have the best guys behind me and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have always been fantastic to me. I’m with them for another four years and I’m really happy about that. I just need to worry about riding and having fun.” If you came face-to-face with the twelve-year-old Jorge Prado and told him that six years later he’d have two world titles and would win thirteen GPs in a row, what would he say? “I think I never put in my mind the thought ‘in the future I’d like to be world champion’ but I remember that I was always ambitious. I would look at other, old riders and think ‘if he can do it then I can as well…’ One thing is thinking it, another is doing it: it’s way different. I always had a positive mindset that I would be where I am today but I think that kid would be blown-away. As a family we have worked all our lives to be where we are now and that twelve-year-old was always looking to move forward and improve every time he went out on the bike. I was looking at the leading riders of that time and trying to take all the positive and good things they were doing to put into my riding. I would copy a lot, and that’s how I built my style. I got that from not only watching at the track but also on TV and videos. If I said to the kid “you will win all this…but you’ll also still love it every time you rode” then this would be the best thing. I don’t think everybody loves riding the bike as much as I do. This is the best thing I have: I enjoy riding so much. I’m addicted.” [embedded content] Photos: Ray Archer/KTM
  25. LIEN DE RUYCK: BRUSSELS TO NEW YORK ON A KTM 790 ADVENTURE Toying with the 50th parallel north for months, writer and creative strategist Lien De Ruyck joins a team of three adventurers as they travel east from Brussels to New York. Riding a KTM 790 ADVENTURE with no reservations or time limitations, the 33-year-old is opening herself to every experience this once in a lifetime trip has to offer. @ Sonderling.be Three months, three friends, three motorcycles, three continents, three oceans and a total of 30,000 km in some of the most remote parts of the planet… Joined by her two riding companions, Belgium native Lien De Ruyck left Brussels on Thursday, May 30, for a big trip into the great unknown. “We decided to travel east from Belgium, toying with the 50 degrees Northern latitude,” confirms Lien. “We wanted to go where the road would take us, without reservations, expectations or time-limitations. Open-minded, with our camping gear packed and the sun hitting our faces. Motonauts on the highway of the cosmos, following in the footsteps of Carol Dunlop and Julio Cortázar…” We caught up with Lien via email while she was in Seoul and about to kickstart the second part of her trip on the North American continent. After completing 17,500 km on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE, the young adventurer shared with us the highlights of this great overland journey and provided her feedback on the bike she’s been riding across the globe… @ Sonderling.be The start of it all. “Setting off from Belgium, we traveled across the eastern part of Europe before landing in Ukraine. From there, the road took us into the great unknown as we entered Russia to travel to Volgograd, Omsk, Novosibirsk and Ulgi. After our first encounter with Russia, Mongolia and the infamous Gobi Desert brought us into most daring part of our trip.” “The infamous Road of Bones [ed. R504 Kolyma Highway in Russia] forced us 2,500 kilometer through the untamed wilderness of the Siberian woods. From Yakutsk – the second coldest town on earth – we traveled to Magadan, which is notorious for its historical connection with the Gulag. Since Magadan is quite literally the end of the line, we retraced our steps on the Road of Bones before heading to the finish line of our Trans-Siberian trip in Vladivostok.” “In this first half of the journey we passed through twelve different time zones already. During this whole trip, one thing I liked about the KTM 790 ADVENTURE is its great weight distribution. Thanks to the placement of the fuel tank, the bike handles incredibly both on and off the road. It’s a lightweight and enjoyable motorcycle in this big-boy travel bike league.” @ Sonderling.be As far as the eye can see… “One of the most impressive moments was driving across the plains of Mongolia. Empty plains stretch as far as the eye can see and suddenly our dirt track splits in different directions. Not into two, but into something akin to a river delta. Every track winds its way through valleys and across hills, with loose sand or rocks and with lots of elevation. But at the end, all tracks come together and meet. This leads to an unbelievable feeling of freedom while riding. Every rider can choose their track knowing that we will meet several kilometers later.” “After 41 days of travelling, we left Ulan Ude and headed towards Vladivostok, the end of the second stage of our journey. From that day onward, we raced the Trans-Siberian train all the way to Vladivostok. Coming around a bend and getting a magnificent view of the legendary train disappearing into a tunnel beneath the mountain makes you feel almost insignificant.” “In these remote pieces of land, a great feature of my bike was its extremely low fuel consumption. Combined with the large 20-litre fuel tank, that would allow me to put in nearly 500 km in one single filling. That can be a life-saving feature when traveling through the forests of Siberia or the endless Mongolian plains.” @ Sonderling.be Life changing experiences. “When planning this trip, we played ‘connect-the-dots’ between the points we definitely had to visit. One of those points was the Carpathian Mountain range, and specifically the Transfăgărășan pass in Romania. We were hoping on magnificent views and endless hairpins, and we got what we wished for…” “During the night an avalanche of snow blocked the upper part of the pass and made it impossible to cross. Upon driving down, we encountered another avalanche below us, this time rocks and mud. Mother Nature had her way, and we got to spend an extra 4 hours driving up and down the pass while waiting for the locals to clear our way.” “No matter how much time we spent searching for info online in advance, nothing could prepare us for the experience of traveling through remote areas. When riding through Russia, for example, we were staggered to come across a piece of Canada sooner into the trip than expected.” @ Sonderling.be “The Altai region in the South-Eastern part of Western Siberia will forever hold a special place in my heart. Every turn showed a new view of far sights into valleys and snowcapped mountaintops and the rivers were as icy blue as the ones in Canada or Alaska. Combine that with the twists and turns of the Altai and you see why the ‘Golden Mountains of Altai’ is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” “But perhaps the most unexpected experience we’ve had so far was completely unrelated to the motorcycle-aspect of our journey. Upon running into some technical difficulties with one of my companion’s bike, we were taken in by two different families in a small village in the middle of Siberia.” “Their hospitality and willingness to drop everything they were doing to help a few bikers they never met before is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. Compared to our Western standards, these people had nothing, yet they were prepared to share everything with strangers they will probably never see again.” @ Sonderling.be The KTM 790 ADVENTURE “For me the KTM 790 ADVENTURE is the ideal bike for this long trip. It packs a punch that is incomparable to any other bike in the middle-weight class I’ve ridden. When turning the throttle, the response is immediate and so is the adrenaline rush.” “By selecting any of the different ride modes I can adjust the throttle response quite nicely. With the right response from the engine, it is an absolute joy to ride in any kind of terrain. Combine that with the ABS configuration and you get a great travel machine that can take you safely and with fun over any terrain.” “Thanks to the smooth engine mapping and the smooth twin-cylinder engine, the power delivery feels almost linear while shifting through the gears. Through long stretches of asphalt in Russia or gravel and rocky paths in Mongolia, the 790 ADVENTURE has been a blast to ride.” At the time of writing, Lien is exploring the endless dirt roads of North America. You may follow Lien’s trip around the world via her profile on Instagram or through her travelling blog. @ Sonderling.be Photos: Sonderling.be
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