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  1. KTM Ultimate Race 2019: The decisive adventure KTM has announced the twelve riders who will be given a fully supported KTM 790 ADVENTURE R in order to compete in a unique event within the 2019 Merzouga Rally – The KTM Ultimate Race. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Sebas Romero Following special qualification events held within the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES across the world in 2018 and 2019, participants had to prove excellent machine control, navigational skill and competent mechanical ability across multiple days. The top two positions from each event have now been decided and are READY TO RACE. Each rider gets to compete in an exclusive class at the Dakar series race in Morocco with a fully supported ride that includes flights, accommodation, meals, entry fees, as well as a full race service. KTM is now proud to announce the hardest and most fearless 12 riders of the KTM ADVENTURE community from around the world who have qualified for this epic final battle, which takes place from March 31 to April 5. [embedded content] The Ultimate Race is a special class at the Merzouga Rally, very similar to the main event and partly ridden on the same routes. Like the pros, the participants will face a marathon stage where no outside assistance is allowed. The participants are entirely left to themselves, which means taking care of the maintenance of their bikes and staying the night in a bivouac. Each competitor will have access to a specially prepared KTM 790 ADVENTURE R which will be equipped with a host of KTM PowerParts, such as the Akrapovič Slip-on Line silencer, the Ergo seat and protection parts which are essential for riding under these conditions, along with a roadbook to help navigate through the desert. The Ultimate Race participants will be treated like KTM factory riders, supported on site with a truck and a team of mechanics to help out with parts and tools or with fixing the bike after a tough race day. Along with this unique and exclusive prize, competitors will be given a fantastic opportunity to be coached by some of the world’s finest and fastest offroad riders. Chris Birch, Marc Coma and Quinn Cody will each take on four participants and under their close guidance and tutelage will actively support these riders in every aspect of how to manage this challenge. As for the prize? The winner of the Ultimate Race can keep their KTM 790 ADVENTURE R race bike along with receiving an all-expenses paid package for two people to see the 2020 Dakar Rally. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Sebas Romero KTM Ultimate Race 2020… For those who are attending this year’s KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES on a twin-cylinder KTM ADVENTURE bike, KTM is excited to announce the renewed possibility to compete for a place at the KTM Ultimate Race in 2020 – registration can be done directly at the online booking of a KTM ADVENTURE RALLY event. Photos: Sebas Romero Video: Fabbegghy Studio/Eros Girotti
  2. KTM Ultimate Race 2019: The decisive adventure

    KTM Ultimate Race 2019: The decisive adventure KTM has announced the twelve riders who will be given a fully supported KTM 790 ADVENTURE R in order to compete in a unique event within the 2019 Merzouga Rally – The KTM Ultimate Race. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Sebas Romero Following special qualification events held within the six KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES across the world in 2018 and 2019, participants had to prove excellent machine control, navigational skill and competent mechanical ability across multiple days. The top two positions from each event have now been decided and are READY TO RACE. Each rider gets to compete in an exclusive class at the Dakar series race in Morocco with a fully supported ride that includes flights, accommodation, meals, entry fees, as well as a full race service. KTM is now proud to announce the hardest and most fearless 12 riders of the KTM ADVENTURE community from around the world who have qualified for this epic final battle, which takes place from March 31 to April 5. [embedded content] The Ultimate Race is a special class at the Merzouga Rally, very similar to the main event and partly ridden on the same routes. Like the pros, the participants will face a marathon stage where no outside assistance is allowed. The participants are entirely left to themselves, which means taking care of the maintenance of their bikes and staying the night in a bivouac. Each competitor will have access to a specially prepared KTM 790 ADVENTURE R which will be equipped with a host of KTM PowerParts, such as the Akrapovič Slip-on Line silencer, the Ergo seat and protection parts which are essential for riding under these conditions, along with a roadbook to help navigate through the desert. The Ultimate Race participants will be treated like KTM factory riders, supported on site with a truck and a team of mechanics to help out with parts and tools or with fixing the bike after a tough race day. Along with this unique and exclusive prize, competitors will be given a fantastic opportunity to be coached by some of the world’s finest and fastest offroad riders. Chris Birch, Marc Coma and Quinn Cody will each take on four participants and under their close guidance and tutelage will actively support these riders in every aspect of how to manage this challenge. As for the prize? The winner of the Ultimate Race can keep their KTM 790 ADVENTURE R race bike along with receiving an all-expenses paid package for two people to see the 2020 Dakar Rally. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Sebas Romero KTM Ultimate Race 2020… For those who are attending this year’s KTM ADVENTURE RALLIES on a twin-cylinder KTM ADVENTURE bike, KTM is excited to announce the renewed possibility to compete for a place at the KTM Ultimate Race in 2020 – registration can be done directly at the online booking of a KTM ADVENTURE RALLY event. Photos: Sebas Romero Video: Fabbegghy Studio/Eros Girotti
  3. ktm New Adventures start now

    New Adventures start now Posted in Bikes, Riding The wait is finally over as the KTM 790 ADVENTURE and KTM 790 ADVENTURE R have arrived and the hardest decision is choosing which version and route to take … KTM 790 ADVENTURE & KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Sebas Romero The KTM 790 ADVENTURE and R version are serious offroad motorcycles at their core; developed with the intent of adventure riding but to also be accessible for riders of all sizes, experience and ability. Powered by a specifically-developed version of the LC8c 799cc parallel twin, these are fully-equipped machines for extreme-minded adventurers who want to charge off and tackle a wide range of terrain with offroad race bike competency, whilst enjoying the comfort of long-distance travel ergonomics, sporty street handling and the convenience of sophisticated electronics. These completely new adventure bikes allow riders to push their own limits, ride harder, take the paths least explored and create exceptional memories that are only possible by powered two-wheelers. And not just thanks to a 450 km fuel range, these machines will encourage explorers to not only ride over the horizon but be driven with the desire to carry on to and past the next one. Soaking up KTM’s experience in this segment and developed alongside its seemingly unstoppable Dakar-winning KTM 450 RALLY, these bikes will set new benchmarks in adventure motorcycling while complementing the existing KTM Travel range. Both machines share many characteristics and performance that excel fundamental adventure motorcycling requirements, but key differences to components and electronic functions give each bike its intended focus and rider appeal. KTM 790 ADVENTURE & KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Marco Campelli KTM 790 ADVENTURE The KTM 790 ADVENTURE is the most offroad capable travel bike. Fully capable of taking on the roughest dirt trails, it remains a high-performing street motorcycle, with the power to take on the distance in the most thrilling way. Running on conventional offroad wheel sizes, the use of Avon TrailRider tires and street focused WP suspension rewards with performance on the long straight runs and – more importantly – when the tarmac twists. Aiding conviction for shorter riders is a low seat (h adjustable 830/850 mm) and with the option to lower it as far as 800 mm using an official KTM PowerParts seat and suspension options. As well as the split rider and passenger seat, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE is set further apart from its R sibling with a longer screen and front fender design for increased wind protection. Larger mirrors also underline its need for more visibility on the street. Visually, it is instantly recognizable by a black frame and available in orange or white bodywork options. KTM 790 ADVENTURE © Marco Campelli KTM 790 ADVENTURE R The most travel capable offroad bike. The rally never has to end with the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R; The most performance-focused travel bike in its segment is able to travel longer distances than any other offroad bike. Immediately distinguished by its white bodywork and orange frame, the R is set apart from its stablemate and all other adventure machines by the high-performance WP suspension it boasts. Positioned more towards challenging offroad use, the fully adjustable XPLOR 48 mm upside-down fork and PDS shock absorber are the results of an intensive development program that has given the R true EXC enduro-level suspension in a real and capable adventure bike package, that can also be ridden superbly on the street. The addition of the rally ride mode (optional on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE) allows riders to choose their throttle behavior – including a new rally response – and control the amount of traction control interference fast and easy between 9 different levels; perfect for when riding in changing terrains. The anti-wheelie mode is also deactivated in this mode. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Sebas Romero These bikes represent an exciting new chapter of the two-wheeled travel segment and are backed up by a comprehensive range of official KTM PowerParts to further intensify the ride. Designed and developed to be worn with intent, multiple KTM PowerWear options are also available to match the attitude and ambition of these bikes – giving riders apparel fit for all adventures. Photos: Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero
  4. New Adventures start now

    New Adventures start now Posted in Bikes, Riding The wait is finally over as the KTM 790 ADVENTURE and KTM 790 ADVENTURE R have arrived and the hardest decision is choosing which version and route to take … KTM 790 ADVENTURE & KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Sebas Romero The KTM 790 ADVENTURE and R version are serious offroad motorcycles at their core; developed with the intent of adventure riding but to also be accessible for riders of all sizes, experience and ability. Powered by a specifically-developed version of the LC8c 799cc parallel twin, these are fully-equipped machines for extreme-minded adventurers who want to charge off and tackle a wide range of terrain with offroad race bike competency, whilst enjoying the comfort of long-distance travel ergonomics, sporty street handling and the convenience of sophisticated electronics. These completely new adventure bikes allow riders to push their own limits, ride harder, take the paths least explored and create exceptional memories that are only possible by powered two-wheelers. And not just thanks to a 450 km fuel range, these machines will encourage explorers to not only ride over the horizon but be driven with the desire to carry on to and past the next one. Soaking up KTM’s experience in this segment and developed alongside its seemingly unstoppable Dakar-winning KTM 450 RALLY, these bikes will set new benchmarks in adventure motorcycling while complementing the existing KTM Travel range. Both machines share many characteristics and performance that excel fundamental adventure motorcycling requirements, but key differences to components and electronic functions give each bike its intended focus and rider appeal. KTM 790 ADVENTURE & KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Marco Campelli KTM 790 ADVENTURE The KTM 790 ADVENTURE is the most offroad capable travel bike. Fully capable of taking on the roughest dirt trails, it remains a high-performing street motorcycle, with the power to take on the distance in the most thrilling way. Running on conventional offroad wheel sizes, the use of Avon TrailRider tires and street focused WP suspension rewards with performance on the long straight runs and – more importantly – when the tarmac twists. Aiding conviction for shorter riders is a low seat (h adjustable 830/850 mm) and with the option to lower it as far as 800 mm using an official KTM PowerParts seat and suspension options. As well as the split rider and passenger seat, the KTM 790 ADVENTURE is set further apart from its R sibling with a longer screen and front fender design for increased wind protection. Larger mirrors also underline its need for more visibility on the street. Visually, it is instantly recognizable by a black frame and available in orange or white bodywork options. KTM 790 ADVENTURE © Marco Campelli KTM 790 ADVENTURE R The most travel capable offroad bike. The rally never has to end with the KTM 790 ADVENTURE R; The most performance-focused travel bike in its segment is able to travel longer distances than any other offroad bike. Immediately distinguished by its white bodywork and orange frame, the R is set apart from its stablemate and all other adventure machines by the high-performance WP suspension it boasts. Positioned more towards challenging offroad use, the fully adjustable XPLOR 48 mm upside-down fork and PDS shock absorber are the results of an intensive development program that has given the R true EXC enduro-level suspension in a real and capable adventure bike package, that can also be ridden superbly on the street. The addition of the rally ride mode (optional on the KTM 790 ADVENTURE) allows riders to choose their throttle behavior – including a new rally response – and control the amount of traction control interference fast and easy between 9 different levels; perfect for when riding in changing terrains. The anti-wheelie mode is also deactivated in this mode. KTM 790 ADVENTURE R © Sebas Romero These bikes represent an exciting new chapter of the two-wheeled travel segment and are backed up by a comprehensive range of official KTM PowerParts to further intensify the ride. Designed and developed to be worn with intent, multiple KTM PowerWear options are also available to match the attitude and ambition of these bikes – giving riders apparel fit for all adventures. Photos: Marco Campelli | Sebas Romero
  5. The team behind the (Dakar) team or five short stories of love and passion – Part 2 The Dakar Rally is a massive operation, therefore it requires more working hands and ingenious minds than any other cross-country rally of the season. This year, the team backing up the Red Bull KTM Factory Riders included 33 members, achieving a historical result under the command of new team leader, Jordi Viladoms. We talked to five of those who joined the orange family only for Dakar. They came to Lima to take care of riders, team, trucks, motorhomes, and KTM customers. How did they join KTM´s Dakar operation, and what are their roles? How was it once upon a time in Africa, what has changed, what has remained exactly the same, and what’s love got to do with it? Everything! Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Andreas Fisher, physiotherapist When asked how he ended up in the trouble called the Dakar, Andy scratches his head: “It’s a really long story.” However, it’s an interesting one, so we’ll make it short. Andy’s Dakar sort of started playing American football in the second German league. He was 22 when he met Ilona, who was dating his teammate as well as working for KTM. When, later, Ilona became Pit Beirer’s wife, Andy would become his physio. “It was in 2002 and motocross rider, Pit Beirer had a contract with KTM. One day, out of the blue, Ilona asked me if I could check his ankle. I treated him and it worked out fine. This is how I started to work for KTM. I was very fortunate to get the job. I come from sports myself, so for me it was a perfect fit. Firstly, I began to work more seriously with Pit, and later with other motocross riders, preparing them for races.” In 2012 he was offered to join the rally team and Andy exchanged the track for the desert. Yet his first Dakar was something he could have never imagined. “The first days, it was 49 degrees during the day, and 30 at night. I was sweating in my tent, couldn’t fall asleep, and thinking how I´ll survive this hell. Well, obviously I am still alive and this is my eighth Dakar,” he laughs. His first “clients” were Marc Coma, Joan Pedrero, Kuba Przygonsky and Kurt Caselli. “I am really sorry for Kurt, he always had a smile on his face for everybody. He was so respectful and grateful, a beautiful soul,” recalls Andy, and adds: “Thanks to the Dakar, I’ve met so many great people, and have seen so many wonderful places. After all these Dakars I’ve done, the beauty of rally for me lies mainly in working for the KTM team. Here no one works alone, we all help each other. My greatest satisfaction is to see that the riders are responding well to my treatment and fighting for victory.” Being one of the most popular team members for obvious reasons (who doesn’t like a massage?), his popularity is well deserved. Andy doesn’t just take care of the physical side of things – his backpack is full of ginger and herbs, and he will always lend an ear if needed. Physiotherapy Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Dr. Rolf Michael Krifter, doctor The paragraph about Dr. Rolf Michael Krifter could have also started “Meet Dr. Michi, the Dakar rookie”, as the Dakar first-timers are called rookies. There are no coincidences in life, and this law also applies to Michael Krifter, orthopedic surgeon and enduro rider in his free time. He was the last member to join the team, quite literally, as on January 4, he still performed his last urgent surgery. At 5pm, he took off his surgeon gloves, reached the airport at 6pm, and took off for the Dakar at 7pm. His Dakar affair started when as a kid he was watching Kini racing the Dakar in Africa on late night TV. He felt the ultimate adventure so falling in love with dirt bikes was the logical next step. Nevertheless, there was something he loved more. Observing his grandfather and father working as general practitioners, he knew he wanted to become a doctor too. He did it a bit differently and became an orthopedic surgeon. Between surgeries, once he even went to Libya for a Dakar-like experience, together with the Dakarian Peter Hinterreiter, fell in love with the desert and got a glimpse of what the Dakar might be. Years later, he came in contact with Matthias Walkner. “Matthias was my patient, I treated him, operated one of his friends and one day he said: ‘It would be really cool if you came with us.’ I said: ‘Ok, I’m happy to do it, I just need to know 3 months in advance so I can reschedule my calendar!'” But desert racing is unpredictable and a few days before Christmas 2018, Michael got a call from team manager Jordi Viladoms – and accepted the job. He worked over the holidays, pushed hard to make the Dakar possible, and that was the beginning of something amazing. “There is no easy way to put this experience into words,” he replies to the basic rookie question. “It’s such an amazing, complex thing. It’s incredible how the members of the team interact; things work easily and almost automatically. On the other hand, it’s so interesting to observe everyone here as a real character! It looks like the secret of this harmony is a common goal: every member of the team wants to win just as bad as the riders do.” When asked about the riders and his job, Michael takes a deep breath: “I worked a lot with different professional athletes, but I found desert racers are really different. I knew they are risk-takers, though I couldn’t imagine how far they are prepared to go in a sport where you can lose your life over such a small mistake. You can feel they do it because they really love it. Our team has the best riders in the world, and that means they go all-in. Mind should certainly overcome the body if you want to win this extraordinary race, and Toby Price is the best example to prove that. I’ve for sure found a whole new topic to explore within sports medicine,” he concludes. Still, KTM’s witty doctor didn’t just take care of the riders, but also the whole team, affected by diarrhea and the flu. His “revolutionary” work already began in Lima when he banned junk food from motorhomes and replaced it with healthy calories. “Besides that, I battled hard with torn ligaments, bad bruises, concussions, distortions up to a broken spine, a badly fractured ankle and a poorly healed scaphoid on fire … to get the riders to the finish line,” he adds, a bit proud to contribute to a great result. Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin
  6. The team behind the (Dakar) team or five short stories of love and passion – Part 2 The Dakar Rally is a massive operation, therefore it requires more working hands and ingenious minds than any other cross-country rally of the season. This year, the team backing up the Red Bull KTM Factory Riders included 33 members, achieving a historical result under the command of new team leader, Jordi Viladoms. We talked to five of those who joined the orange family only for Dakar. They came to Lima to take care of riders, team, trucks, motorhomes, and KTM customers. How did they join KTM´s Dakar operation, and what are their roles? How was it once upon a time in Africa, what has changed, what has remained exactly the same, and what’s love got to do with it? Everything! Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Andreas Fisher, physiotherapist When asked how he ended up in the trouble called the Dakar, Andy scratches his head: “It’s a really long story.” However, it’s an interesting one, so we’ll make it short. Andy’s Dakar sort of started playing American football in the second German league. He was 22 when he met Ilona, who was dating his teammate as well as working for KTM. When, later, Ilona became Pit Beirer’s wife, Andy would become his physio. “It was in 2002 and motocross rider, Pit Beirer had a contract with KTM. One day, out of the blue, Ilona asked me if I could check his ankle. I treated him and it worked out fine. This is how I started to work for KTM. I was very fortunate to get the job. I come from sports myself, so for me it was a perfect fit. Firstly, I began to work more seriously with Pit, and later with other motocross riders, preparing them for races.” In 2012 he was offered to join the rally team and Andy exchanged the track for the desert. Yet his first Dakar was something he could have never imagined. “The first days, it was 49 degrees during the day, and 30 at night. I was sweating in my tent, couldn’t fall asleep, and thinking how I´ll survive this hell. Well, obviously I am still alive and this is my eighth Dakar,” he laughs. His first “clients” were Marc Coma, Joan Pedrero, Kuba Przygonsky and Kurt Caselli. “I am really sorry for Kurt, he always had a smile on his face for everybody. He was so respectful and grateful, a beautiful soul,” recalls Andy, and adds: “Thanks to the Dakar, I’ve met so many great people, and have seen so many wonderful places. After all these Dakars I’ve done, the beauty of rally for me lies mainly in working for the KTM team. Here no one works alone, we all help each other. My greatest satisfaction is to see that the riders are responding well to my treatment and fighting for victory.” Being one of the most popular team members for obvious reasons (who doesn’t like a massage?), his popularity is well deserved. Andy doesn’t just take care of the physical side of things – his backpack is full of ginger and herbs, and he will always lend an ear if needed. Physiotherapy Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Dr. Rolf Michael Krifter, doctor The paragraph about Dr. Rolf Michael Krifter could have also started “Meet Dr. Michi, the Dakar rookie”, as the Dakar first-timers are called rookies. There are no coincidences in life, and this law also applies to Michael Krifter, orthopedic surgeon and enduro rider in his free time. He was the last member to join the team, quite literally, as on January 4, he still performed his last urgent surgery. At 5pm, he took off his surgeon gloves, reached the airport at 6pm, and took off for the Dakar at 7pm. His Dakar affair started when as a kid he was watching Kini racing the Dakar in Africa on late night TV. He felt the ultimate adventure so falling in love with dirt bikes was the logical next step. Nevertheless, there was something he loved more. Observing his grandfather and father working as general practitioners, he knew he wanted to become a doctor too. He did it a bit differently and became an orthopedic surgeon. Between surgeries, once he even went to Libya for a Dakar-like experience, together with the Dakarian Peter Hinterreiter, fell in love with the desert and got a glimpse of what the Dakar might be. Years later, he came in contact with Matthias Walkner. “Matthias was my patient, I treated him, operated one of his friends and one day he said: ‘It would be really cool if you came with us.’ I said: ‘Ok, I’m happy to do it, I just need to know 3 months in advance so I can reschedule my calendar!'” But desert racing is unpredictable and a few days before Christmas 2018, Michael got a call from team manager Jordi Viladoms – and accepted the job. He worked over the holidays, pushed hard to make the Dakar possible, and that was the beginning of something amazing. “There is no easy way to put this experience into words,” he replies to the basic rookie question. “It’s such an amazing, complex thing. It’s incredible how the members of the team interact; things work easily and almost automatically. On the other hand, it’s so interesting to observe everyone here as a real character! It looks like the secret of this harmony is a common goal: every member of the team wants to win just as bad as the riders do.” When asked about the riders and his job, Michael takes a deep breath: “I worked a lot with different professional athletes, but I found desert racers are really different. I knew they are risk-takers, though I couldn’t imagine how far they are prepared to go in a sport where you can lose your life over such a small mistake. You can feel they do it because they really love it. Our team has the best riders in the world, and that means they go all-in. Mind should certainly overcome the body if you want to win this extraordinary race, and Toby Price is the best example to prove that. I’ve for sure found a whole new topic to explore within sports medicine,” he concludes. Still, KTM’s witty doctor didn’t just take care of the riders, but also the whole team, affected by diarrhea and the flu. His “revolutionary” work already began in Lima when he banned junk food from motorhomes and replaced it with healthy calories. “Besides that, I battled hard with torn ligaments, bad bruises, concussions, distortions up to a broken spine, a badly fractured ankle and a poorly healed scaphoid on fire … to get the riders to the finish line,” he adds, a bit proud to contribute to a great result. Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin
  7. The mind of a champion? Talking head-games with Johann Zarco Posted in People, Racing At 28 years of age Red Bull KTM’s new factory MotoGPTM rider Johann Zarco is already a double world champion, holder of podium finishes in all classes of Grand Prix, a winner in two categories and the most successful Frenchman in the history of the sport. Johann Zarco (FRA) 2019 © Sebas Romero In 2019 however this quiet and calm athlete from Cannes will have the sensation of what it means to be a factory rider in MotoGPTM (for his third season in the top division of the FIM World Championship) for the very first time. Zarco has the KTM RC16 at his fingertips and development is expected to go hand-in-hand with a show of results as the manufacturer valiantly tries to regain decades of time, experience and expertise on the asphalt compared to their rivals. This increases the pressure on #5 by a few extra bars. “The target and the dream to be champion remains the same; it can become even closer or true because there is the support of a factory team,” he explains. “So, life doesn’t change but the work and the way to think on the bike does a bit because I have to ‘grow up’ in my mind and accept that to develop things takes time and I cannot get everything very quickly.” “You have to clear your mind of many things because you are always thinking and talking about details and you have to try and control as many of them as you can: if you have people to help you with that then it’s good,” he adds. Johann is talking at the 2019 KTM MotoGPTM team presentation in Austria. He’s been in front of TV cameras and microphones for over half an hour and is sitting in the spacious City Hall in Mattighofen for his last appointment. Understandably he’s wearied of the questions about his new race bike, it’s characteristics, when he’ll be fast and what he expects from 2019 MotoGPTM; the first year of two on his contract. So, instead, we’re curious about how the very first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion (2007) gets his head in the game. Johann Zarco (FRA) 2019 © Sebas Romero Zarco is renowned for being a thoughtful and sensitive rider, one who excelled in tire preservation in his Moto2 pomp and ability to make the most of his technical race package. A child prodigy who plays the piano, coaches other kids when he can find the time and likes to celebrate sporting achievement with a backflip from a high tire wall. His demeanor suggests that he could sell you a detailed insurance policy but behind the tinted visor Zarco is one of the boldest competitors in MotoGPTM and shows no fear. To have this intensity through a program that stretches for nineteen events and ten months of the year means Zarco is constantly ‘on’. “Generally, your mind is always thinking about racing,” he says. “In the winter, even on rest days, I am thinking ‘what can I do better?’ I don’t know if I am like the others [riders] but I think this [analysis] is what sportspeople need to have.” Johann Zarco (FRA) MotoGP IRTA Test Sepang (MAL) 2019 © Gold and Goose MotoGPTM is opening the throttle on 2019 after the window testing ‘blackout’ of December and January. Tests have been completed and Qatar (where Zarco announced his arrival so emphatically by leading half the GP in his class debut in 2017) is coming up. There will be little time to break away from the microscope of racing and the respite of the winter will become a distant memory until the last days of November. “When I have a break – say two weeks – then I need a full week of doing nothing before I can feel any kind of relaxation in my mind,” Zarco admits. “After that week I might not even think about a motorbike. Otherwise the brain is always ‘connected’. Just one week is not enough because you won’t disconnect totally. Now, with experience, I know when I need a break. For the first week you rest your body but not your mind.” “It’s important,” he goes on. “The brain is a very strong muscle. The bike is very much about the physical side but the mental part is vital in sport. If you have too much going on in your brain, you are tired, or you are stressed you have less power to give.” Qatar means relaxation is far from everyone’s minds. It is the time to get going: when perhaps pre-race nerves and questions are at their most prominent. Zarco has made a ‘shift’ with his career by stepping into the support and resources of the Red Bull KTM setup and has that double challenge to embrace. Considering how much he values confidence and the right mentality for performance has he ever experimented with psychological assistance? “Not yet,” he asserts. “Before that step I need to control all the new elements around me. When we have the feeling that everything is under control and we are at a good level – but maybe something is missing – then perhaps it will be the time to feel and see if I need it or not. Right now, I feel good and the people around me like the way I am working, so I don’t want to change too much because we are at the beginning of a big thing. It is a detail I will maybe have to think of … but not now.” Johann Zarco (FRA) KTM RC16 MotoGP IRTA Test Losail (QAT) 2019 © Gold and Goose MotoGPTM is a bundle of personal demands: physical, mental, technical, career, public … and that’s before you think of the caliber of rivals that have to be beaten on the track. It’s not a theatre of sport for the weak-minded. Mental toughness is a trait that is rarely seen or understood by fans and insiders but it is essential. Zarco concurs. “I think I have some natural skill for that, I think you have to have it to reach this level. All the riders do,” he says. “They have some skill or aptitude to do things or push themselves. It’s like we are ‘made’ for it … but even then it is not enough and you still have to work to improve yourself.” Johann smiles when he talks about adrenaline (“if you know you are going to have the adrenaline during the weekend then you can control yourself during the week”) and it’s curious how he says the buzz of racing can be accountable. “There are things you must control when you are on the bike but when you are doing that and everything is going well then you can let the ‘extra’ [adrenaline] work,” he explains. “It’s something a rider wants all the time: to be on that cloud and to have that enhanced feeling of control. When it happens, it feels so good … and you try to do it as much as possible. It’s the way to be a champion!” Johann Zarco (FRA) KTM RC16 MotoGP IRTA Test Losail (QAT) 2019 © Gold and Goose KTM AG CEO Stefan Pierer has already said that he expects the expanded KTM MotoGPTM troupe to be hitting single digit results in 2019. Zarco has been careful with his estimations with only nine days on the KTM RC16 prior to the Qatar test but has intimated that 2019 will be an educational campaign for more serious goals circa 2020. With 16 GP triumphs to his name and 6 visits to the MotoGPTM podium Johann knows what it takes to grasp a cava bottle. This season could mean more trophies or more moments of personal excellence. What matters more to the star: the sensation of victory or the satisfaction of a performance ‘high’ regardless of the result? “I want the win!” he laughs. “It is the proof that I’ve reached the level I dreamt of and then I want to stay there as long as I can or I want. At the moment, I can enjoy and know I am doing good things even though I am not winning … but then the result is always the right answer.” “It is good to go home and sit there on a Tuesday and think ‘I did it …’ but the problem is that it’s done! That’s why you must live with all your energy and heart in the present. It can be positive or negative but what is done is done and you cannot spend all your time thinking back to good moments: That is almost sad. Even if you were world champion it is sad you have to think about that to enjoy the present. Nostalgia is good for a story … but too much of it means you are not living for today.” With that Zarco has to leave. He may have just taken part in his first formalities as a factory MotoGPTM ace up on the City Hall stage but Johann has been going places for a while now. It’ll be exciting to see where this talented and dedicated racer can speed to next. Johann Zarco (FRA) MotoGP IRTA Test Sepang (MAL) 2019 © Gold and Goose Photos: Sebas Romero | Gold and Goose
  8. The mind of a champion? Talking head-games with Johann Zarco Posted in People, Racing At 28 years of age Red Bull KTM’s new factory MotoGPTM rider Johann Zarco is already a double world champion, holder of podium finishes in all classes of Grand Prix, a winner in two categories and the most successful Frenchman in the history of the sport. Johann Zarco (FRA) 2019 © Sebas Romero In 2019 however this quiet and calm athlete from Cannes will have the sensation of what it means to be a factory rider in MotoGPTM (for his third season in the top division of the FIM World Championship) for the very first time. Zarco has the KTM RC16 at his fingertips and development is expected to go hand-in-hand with a show of results as the manufacturer valiantly tries to regain decades of time, experience and expertise on the asphalt compared to their rivals. This increases the pressure on #5 by a few extra bars. “The target and the dream to be champion remains the same; it can become even closer or true because there is the support of a factory team,” he explains. “So, life doesn’t change but the work and the way to think on the bike does a bit because I have to ‘grow up’ in my mind and accept that to develop things takes time and I cannot get everything very quickly.” “You have to clear your mind of many things because you are always thinking and talking about details and you have to try and control as many of them as you can: if you have people to help you with that then it’s good,” he adds. Johann is talking at the 2019 KTM MotoGPTM team presentation in Austria. He’s been in front of TV cameras and microphones for over half an hour and is sitting in the spacious City Hall in Mattighofen for his last appointment. Understandably he’s wearied of the questions about his new race bike, it’s characteristics, when he’ll be fast and what he expects from 2019 MotoGPTM; the first year of two on his contract. So, instead, we’re curious about how the very first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion (2007) gets his head in the game. Johann Zarco (FRA) 2019 © Sebas Romero Zarco is renowned for being a thoughtful and sensitive rider, one who excelled in tire preservation in his Moto2 pomp and ability to make the most of his technical race package. A child prodigy who plays the piano, coaches other kids when he can find the time and likes to celebrate sporting achievement with a backflip from a high tire wall. His demeanor suggests that he could sell you a detailed insurance policy but behind the tinted visor Zarco is one of the boldest competitors in MotoGPTM and shows no fear. To have this intensity through a program that stretches for nineteen events and ten months of the year means Zarco is constantly ‘on’. “Generally, your mind is always thinking about racing,” he says. “In the winter, even on rest days, I am thinking ‘what can I do better?’ I don’t know if I am like the others [riders] but I think this [analysis] is what sportspeople need to have.” Johann Zarco (FRA) MotoGP IRTA Test Sepang (MAL) 2019 © Gold and Goose MotoGPTM is opening the throttle on 2019 after the window testing ‘blackout’ of December and January. Tests have been completed and Qatar (where Zarco announced his arrival so emphatically by leading half the GP in his class debut in 2017) is coming up. There will be little time to break away from the microscope of racing and the respite of the winter will become a distant memory until the last days of November. “When I have a break – say two weeks – then I need a full week of doing nothing before I can feel any kind of relaxation in my mind,” Zarco admits. “After that week I might not even think about a motorbike. Otherwise the brain is always ‘connected’. Just one week is not enough because you won’t disconnect totally. Now, with experience, I know when I need a break. For the first week you rest your body but not your mind.” “It’s important,” he goes on. “The brain is a very strong muscle. The bike is very much about the physical side but the mental part is vital in sport. If you have too much going on in your brain, you are tired, or you are stressed you have less power to give.” Qatar means relaxation is far from everyone’s minds. It is the time to get going: when perhaps pre-race nerves and questions are at their most prominent. Zarco has made a ‘shift’ with his career by stepping into the support and resources of the Red Bull KTM setup and has that double challenge to embrace. Considering how much he values confidence and the right mentality for performance has he ever experimented with psychological assistance? “Not yet,” he asserts. “Before that step I need to control all the new elements around me. When we have the feeling that everything is under control and we are at a good level – but maybe something is missing – then perhaps it will be the time to feel and see if I need it or not. Right now, I feel good and the people around me like the way I am working, so I don’t want to change too much because we are at the beginning of a big thing. It is a detail I will maybe have to think of … but not now.” Johann Zarco (FRA) KTM RC16 MotoGP IRTA Test Losail (QAT) 2019 © Gold and Goose MotoGPTM is a bundle of personal demands: physical, mental, technical, career, public … and that’s before you think of the caliber of rivals that have to be beaten on the track. It’s not a theatre of sport for the weak-minded. Mental toughness is a trait that is rarely seen or understood by fans and insiders but it is essential. Zarco concurs. “I think I have some natural skill for that, I think you have to have it to reach this level. All the riders do,” he says. “They have some skill or aptitude to do things or push themselves. It’s like we are ‘made’ for it … but even then it is not enough and you still have to work to improve yourself.” Johann smiles when he talks about adrenaline (“if you know you are going to have the adrenaline during the weekend then you can control yourself during the week”) and it’s curious how he says the buzz of racing can be accountable. “There are things you must control when you are on the bike but when you are doing that and everything is going well then you can let the ‘extra’ [adrenaline] work,” he explains. “It’s something a rider wants all the time: to be on that cloud and to have that enhanced feeling of control. When it happens, it feels so good … and you try to do it as much as possible. It’s the way to be a champion!” Johann Zarco (FRA) KTM RC16 MotoGP IRTA Test Losail (QAT) 2019 © Gold and Goose KTM AG CEO Stefan Pierer has already said that he expects the expanded KTM MotoGPTM troupe to be hitting single digit results in 2019. Zarco has been careful with his estimations with only nine days on the KTM RC16 prior to the Qatar test but has intimated that 2019 will be an educational campaign for more serious goals circa 2020. With 16 GP triumphs to his name and 6 visits to the MotoGPTM podium Johann knows what it takes to grasp a cava bottle. This season could mean more trophies or more moments of personal excellence. What matters more to the star: the sensation of victory or the satisfaction of a performance ‘high’ regardless of the result? “I want the win!” he laughs. “It is the proof that I’ve reached the level I dreamt of and then I want to stay there as long as I can or I want. At the moment, I can enjoy and know I am doing good things even though I am not winning … but then the result is always the right answer.” “It is good to go home and sit there on a Tuesday and think ‘I did it …’ but the problem is that it’s done! That’s why you must live with all your energy and heart in the present. It can be positive or negative but what is done is done and you cannot spend all your time thinking back to good moments: That is almost sad. Even if you were world champion it is sad you have to think about that to enjoy the present. Nostalgia is good for a story … but too much of it means you are not living for today.” With that Zarco has to leave. He may have just taken part in his first formalities as a factory MotoGPTM ace up on the City Hall stage but Johann has been going places for a while now. It’ll be exciting to see where this talented and dedicated racer can speed to next. Johann Zarco (FRA) MotoGP IRTA Test Sepang (MAL) 2019 © Gold and Goose Photos: Sebas Romero | Gold and Goose
  9. ktm MXGP 2019: 3 Big Questions

    MXGP 2019: 3 Big Questions Posted in Racing What is frustrating about racing? Is it a last lap crash or loss of position? The tough moments when hard work does not translate into results? Or maybe the fact that it never stands still, and the achievement of today can rapidly fade tomorrow? KTM could perhaps volunteer the last point; especially with the efforts of the Red Bull KTM team in MXGP. KTM 450 SX-F & KTM 250 SX-F © B. Swijgers The 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship was arguably a defining moment for the company and the team: first and second positions in both the MXGP and MX2 classes with titles across the board and relentless dominance every weekend. The KTM 450 SX-F and KTM 250 SX-F motorcycles reached a pinnacle of performance and subsequently became the essential bikes to have on motocross tracks across the world. Five months after champagne corks hit ceilings in the Netherlands, Italy and Austria, everything has been wiped clean. The metal gate has been re-lifted, the podiums are dusty, the standings are reset to ‘0’ and the guessing begins again. Frustrating or challenging? Regardless of the emotion, the movement of time it is an aspect of racing to embrace and harness for energy and motivation. In the spirit of celebration and in anticipation of another nineteen rounds of punishing and exciting motocross we dug out three key questions around the reigning world champs ahead of the inaugural Grand Prix of Argentina this weekend. [embedded content] 1) Is 2018 an untouchable dream? A ‘dream’ in the sense that last year is firmly in the past and the sheer rate of trophies and achievement is something that still seems hazy now in terms of reality. KTM may have won the premier class 7 times in the last 9 seasons (and 8 from 9 in MX2) but the 2018 inter-team battles between Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli and Jorge Prado and Pauls Jonass not only saw the championship crowns passed onto athletes in the same team but witnessed the sight of one squad decimating two classes at the very highest level of a single sport. It was a very rare situation. Circumstances dictate that 2019 will not be a replica. Herlings is fighting to come back from a broken right foot and an injury that will eat into the season until the champion regains race speed and confidence. Thus, two Red Bull KTM riders claiming all but one Grand Prix as they did in 2018 will be a mammoth task to repeat. This is not to say that Herlings and Cairoli will not add to their tally this year. Cairoli can still sniff a history-making tenth world championship at the age of 33, and any spoils in 2019 will hike his current GP win haul of 85 closer to the record of 101. Herlings sits on 84 and is also eyeing the dash to that milestone. #84 and #222. 1 and 2, and the most prolific riders in Grand Prix history this decade: Red Bull KTM have the two best athletes in their stable but even then their sum of 19 wins (17 for Herlings, 2 for Cairoli) 33 podiums (13 times together) from 2018 is something special. To their credit KTM are not taking the triumphs for granted (check out VP of Offroad Robert Jonas’ words about 2018 on the KTM BLOG here) and have to keep modest about whatever the outcome in 2019 compared to their annus mirabilis last summer. Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F © B. Swijgers 2) Can the Spaniard get any better? Oh yes. Jorge Prado may have continued KTM’s excellent lineage of young and exceptional riding talent ascending to the position of MX2 gold plate holder (think of Townley, Rattray, Musquin, Roczen, Herlings, Tixier, Jonass) and is arguably the most proficient starter seen in Grand Prix in recent memory, but he wasn’t the finished package in 2018. Prado gained ground on Jonass in the standings throughout the season but also matured into a formidable rider of few mistakes that became almost unbeatable in leading from the front. That journey will continue in 2019. Sometimes the youthful impetuosity (he turned 18 in January) was clear in race situations – the Grand Prix of Turkey – was an exhilarating ‘low point’ for the team with the clash between the Spaniard and Jonass on track losing the overall win and inflicting a right knee injury on the Latvian. 2018 was just the second Grand Prix year for Jorge and saw a stronger and more physical teenager exerting his influence. In 2019 he will have yet more conditioning, experience and a different kind of pressure as ‘the hunted’ rather than ‘the hunter’ but such is his light and care-free (but deadly determined) demeanor that his status in the MXGP paddock is unlikely to be a deciding factor in his performances. Another winter of training with Tony Cairoli and his De Carli crew (plus an undefeated streak in the three round Italian Championship) means Prado will continue sprinting on the fast-track to more brilliance. Could the MXGP class already be knocking come October? If Prado defends the championship, then he’ll be obliged to jump into the premier division according to FIM rules. Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F © B. Swijgers 3) What about Tom? When eighteen-year-old Tom Vialle filled the saddle vacated by Pauls Jonass (the Latvian leaping into the MXGP class) there were a few eyebrows raised. The French youngster is the son of a former Grand Prix rider and had shone through moments of last year’s EMX250 European Championship – the increasingly competitive feeder system to MX2 – but did not boast the kind of record in the junior classes compared to his predecessors. Handed a test and chance to impress with the Red Bull KTM, Vialle convinced the expert opinion of former multi world champion, former Belgian MX of Nations Team Manager and KTM Motocross Manager Joël Smets sufficiently to earn one of the most sought after opportunities in the FIM World Championship. The Belgian liked Vialle’s style and character but acknowledged he has to make vast strides in order to place that works KTM 250 SX-F where it needs to be (particularly in the recent context of 2018). Unlike most of KTM’s previous MX2 stars Vialle has not been fed-through or groomed by a junior program and it is important to remember that not only is he a rookie in a factory setup but also in Grand Prix. Smets and the team will be looking for signs of progress in 2019 with Vialle already showing the technique and desire needed to make the cut. Aside from this interesting new story keep an eye on two more KTM prospects in the EMX European championship in the forms of Austrian Rene Hofer (racing a KTM 250 SX-F for the first time) and Liam Everts on the KTM 125 SX. Tom Vialle (FRA) KTM 250 SX-F © R. Archer Photos: B. Swijgers | R. Archer
  10. MXGP 2019: 3 Big Questions

    MXGP 2019: 3 Big Questions Posted in Racing What is frustrating about racing? Is it a last lap crash or loss of position? The tough moments when hard work does not translate into results? Or maybe the fact that it never stands still, and the achievement of today can rapidly fade tomorrow? KTM could perhaps volunteer the last point; especially with the efforts of the Red Bull KTM team in MXGP. KTM 450 SX-F & KTM 250 SX-F © B. Swijgers The 2018 FIM Motocross World Championship was arguably a defining moment for the company and the team: first and second positions in both the MXGP and MX2 classes with titles across the board and relentless dominance every weekend. The KTM 450 SX-F and KTM 250 SX-F motorcycles reached a pinnacle of performance and subsequently became the essential bikes to have on motocross tracks across the world. Five months after champagne corks hit ceilings in the Netherlands, Italy and Austria, everything has been wiped clean. The metal gate has been re-lifted, the podiums are dusty, the standings are reset to ‘0’ and the guessing begins again. Frustrating or challenging? Regardless of the emotion, the movement of time it is an aspect of racing to embrace and harness for energy and motivation. In the spirit of celebration and in anticipation of another nineteen rounds of punishing and exciting motocross we dug out three key questions around the reigning world champs ahead of the inaugural Grand Prix of Argentina this weekend. [embedded content] 1) Is 2018 an untouchable dream? A ‘dream’ in the sense that last year is firmly in the past and the sheer rate of trophies and achievement is something that still seems hazy now in terms of reality. KTM may have won the premier class 7 times in the last 9 seasons (and 8 from 9 in MX2) but the 2018 inter-team battles between Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli and Jorge Prado and Pauls Jonass not only saw the championship crowns passed onto athletes in the same team but witnessed the sight of one squad decimating two classes at the very highest level of a single sport. It was a very rare situation. Circumstances dictate that 2019 will not be a replica. Herlings is fighting to come back from a broken right foot and an injury that will eat into the season until the champion regains race speed and confidence. Thus, two Red Bull KTM riders claiming all but one Grand Prix as they did in 2018 will be a mammoth task to repeat. This is not to say that Herlings and Cairoli will not add to their tally this year. Cairoli can still sniff a history-making tenth world championship at the age of 33, and any spoils in 2019 will hike his current GP win haul of 85 closer to the record of 101. Herlings sits on 84 and is also eyeing the dash to that milestone. #84 and #222. 1 and 2, and the most prolific riders in Grand Prix history this decade: Red Bull KTM have the two best athletes in their stable but even then their sum of 19 wins (17 for Herlings, 2 for Cairoli) 33 podiums (13 times together) from 2018 is something special. To their credit KTM are not taking the triumphs for granted (check out VP of Offroad Robert Jonas’ words about 2018 on the KTM BLOG here) and have to keep modest about whatever the outcome in 2019 compared to their annus mirabilis last summer. Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F © B. Swijgers 2) Can the Spaniard get any better? Oh yes. Jorge Prado may have continued KTM’s excellent lineage of young and exceptional riding talent ascending to the position of MX2 gold plate holder (think of Townley, Rattray, Musquin, Roczen, Herlings, Tixier, Jonass) and is arguably the most proficient starter seen in Grand Prix in recent memory, but he wasn’t the finished package in 2018. Prado gained ground on Jonass in the standings throughout the season but also matured into a formidable rider of few mistakes that became almost unbeatable in leading from the front. That journey will continue in 2019. Sometimes the youthful impetuosity (he turned 18 in January) was clear in race situations – the Grand Prix of Turkey – was an exhilarating ‘low point’ for the team with the clash between the Spaniard and Jonass on track losing the overall win and inflicting a right knee injury on the Latvian. 2018 was just the second Grand Prix year for Jorge and saw a stronger and more physical teenager exerting his influence. In 2019 he will have yet more conditioning, experience and a different kind of pressure as ‘the hunted’ rather than ‘the hunter’ but such is his light and care-free (but deadly determined) demeanor that his status in the MXGP paddock is unlikely to be a deciding factor in his performances. Another winter of training with Tony Cairoli and his De Carli crew (plus an undefeated streak in the three round Italian Championship) means Prado will continue sprinting on the fast-track to more brilliance. Could the MXGP class already be knocking come October? If Prado defends the championship, then he’ll be obliged to jump into the premier division according to FIM rules. Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F © B. Swijgers 3) What about Tom? When eighteen-year-old Tom Vialle filled the saddle vacated by Pauls Jonass (the Latvian leaping into the MXGP class) there were a few eyebrows raised. The French youngster is the son of a former Grand Prix rider and had shone through moments of last year’s EMX250 European Championship – the increasingly competitive feeder system to MX2 – but did not boast the kind of record in the junior classes compared to his predecessors. Handed a test and chance to impress with the Red Bull KTM, Vialle convinced the expert opinion of former multi world champion, former Belgian MX of Nations Team Manager and KTM Motocross Manager Joël Smets sufficiently to earn one of the most sought after opportunities in the FIM World Championship. The Belgian liked Vialle’s style and character but acknowledged he has to make vast strides in order to place that works KTM 250 SX-F where it needs to be (particularly in the recent context of 2018). Unlike most of KTM’s previous MX2 stars Vialle has not been fed-through or groomed by a junior program and it is important to remember that not only is he a rookie in a factory setup but also in Grand Prix. Smets and the team will be looking for signs of progress in 2019 with Vialle already showing the technique and desire needed to make the cut. Aside from this interesting new story keep an eye on two more KTM prospects in the EMX European championship in the forms of Austrian Rene Hofer (racing a KTM 250 SX-F for the first time) and Liam Everts on the KTM 125 SX. Tom Vialle (FRA) KTM 250 SX-F © R. Archer Photos: B. Swijgers | R. Archer
  11. #inthisyear2009: Marvin Musquin becomes the MX2 world champion – today he is one of KTM’s best prospects in the AMA Supercross World Championship Back when Marvin Musquin won his first world championship race in early 2009, the Frenchman was still largely an unknown quantity. But that would change very quickly. Never before has anyone left their mark on a season in the way Musquin did back then at just 19-years old. Blessed with immense talent, he impressed the world of motocross, securing his first MX2 world championship title at the end of the season on the KTM 250 SX-F. Marvin Musquin (FRA) Anaheim 1 (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby For KTM, the 2009 motocross season could not have gone much better. In addition to Musquin’s world championship title, the world championship runners-up position in the big MX1 class and the Women’s Motocross World Championship also went to KTM. In an equally glorious competition, Musquin successfully defended his title in 2010. “The next step will see Marvin in the USA, where Roger De Coster is already waiting for him”, said KTM boss Stefan Pierer at the time. Today, Musquin is one of KTM’s best prospects in the AMA Supercross World Championship. Marvin Musquin (FRA) Canelinha (BRA) 2009 © Ray Archer Supercross is still a relatively new type of offroad sport, at least when compared to today’s “Six Days of Enduro”. The first International Six Days Reliability Trial took place well over 100 years ago in the English city of Carlisle. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that motocross became popular in Europe, where races took place on natural tracks on heavy-duty 4-stroke motorcycles. In Belgium, motocross was even a kind of national sport. It’s no surprise then that many successful motocross riders, such as the five-time 500cc world champion and current Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Roger De Coster, come from the land of the Flemish and Walloons. In 1947, the MX of Nations took place for the first time in Wassenaar, Netherlands as a team competition for national teams, similar to the International Six Days Enduro in enduro racing. For two decades, only Belgian, English, and Swedish teams succeeded in taking the title. The motocross world championship for individual riders only began in 1957. Even today, circuits from the early years, such as Hawkstone Park in Great Britain or the tracks around the Citadel in Namur, Belgium, are still legendary. Motocross was practically unheard of in the USA; offroad sport was held at cross-country races such as the Elsinore Grand Prix and Baja 500, or as flat track at horse racetracks, with a few road races as well. Even enduro racing was considered a highly exotic beast in the USA. It wasn’t until European manufacturers exported their competition bikes to the USA toward the end of the 1960s that crowd-pleasing motocross racing surged in popularity in the USA. Although it would still be a few years until American riders caught up with the stars of the day, such as Roger De Coster or the Scandinavian riders, the spell had been broken. The 1971 race at the Daytona International Speedway marked a first. Up until then motocross races had been held on natural tracks a long way outside cities, however the organizers of the Daytona race constructed an artificial track with spectacular jumps and brought motocross to the spectators. This successful concept was developed further, and just a year later a race was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, one of the largest football stadiums in the USA. The term “Supercross” – a combination of “Super Bowl” (the NFL championship) and “motocross” was also coined at this time. Supercross quickly became one of the most popular motorsports in the USA. In Europe, motocross races were only held in the summer, however in the USA there was not one but two series. Since 1972, the AMA Motocross Championship has been held in the summer. During the winter, the Supercross championships take place in the stadiums, traditionally kicking off during the first weekend of January. Marvin Musquin (FRA) KTM 450 SX-F Detroit (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby Since 2008, the AMA Supercross series has enjoyed world championship status, even though the races are almost always held in the USA. During the heats and a last chance qualifier, around 40 riders compete for one of the 22 starting positions in the final. In the USA, Roger De Coster took the young Frenchman Marvin Musquin under his wing, and, through him, KTM was able to enlist the then 22-year old Ryan Dungey, who received the prestigious Supercross title for KTM three times in a row from 2015 to 2017 before announcing his retirement from active racing at the end of the season. Musquin initially started on the KTM 250 SX-F in the 250 SX Championship, which is held in West and East divisions. He won a total of four races in 2013, including the Supercross in Daytona Beach, which ultimately took him through to the runners-up spot of the East division. Two years later, Musquin was crowned the winner of the 250 SX East Championship before switching to the 450 SX class where he quickly became the “Rookie of the Year 2016”. The current SX season is on course to be one of the most thrilling. After the sixth of seventeen races, just two points separated the top four. Musquin came in eighth place in the kick-off race in Anaheim. Non-stop rain and a muddy track coupled with a training shortfall due to a knee injury in the previous season all prevented him from finishing higher. However, the Frenchman later regained his momentum and obtained his fifth consecutive podium in Arlington. After a slow start, Cooper Webb made an impressive comeback at the second Red Bull Factory KTM, taking leadership on the very last corner and defending it with a lead of less than 0.03 seconds in a neck-to-neck final. With four victories this season, this meant that Cooper Webb also secured the leader’s red plate. After finishing second at the Detroit Triple Crown, it seems that he is the man to beat during the second half of the season; closely followed by his teammate Marvin Musquin, currently placed third in the standings. Marvin Musquin (FRA, #25) & Cooper Webb (USA, #2) Arlington (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby Photos: Simon Cudby | Ray Archer
  12. #inthisyear2009: Marvin Musquin becomes the MX2 world champion – today he is one of KTM’s best prospects in the AMA Supercross World Championship Back when Marvin Musquin won his first world championship race in early 2009, the Frenchman was still largely an unknown quantity. But that would change very quickly. Never before has anyone left their mark on a season in the way Musquin did back then at just 19-years old. Blessed with immense talent, he impressed the world of motocross, securing his first MX2 world championship title at the end of the season on the KTM 250 SX-F. Marvin Musquin (FRA) Anaheim 1 (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby For KTM, the 2009 motocross season could not have gone much better. In addition to Musquin’s world championship title, the world championship runners-up position in the big MX1 class and the Women’s Motocross World Championship also went to KTM. In an equally glorious competition, Musquin successfully defended his title in 2010. “The next step will see Marvin in the USA, where Roger De Coster is already waiting for him”, said KTM boss Stefan Pierer at the time. Today, Musquin is one of KTM’s best prospects in the AMA Supercross World Championship. Marvin Musquin (FRA) Canelinha (BRA) 2009 © Ray Archer Supercross is still a relatively new type of offroad sport, at least when compared to today’s “Six Days of Enduro”. The first International Six Days Reliability Trial took place well over 100 years ago in the English city of Carlisle. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that motocross became popular in Europe, where races took place on natural tracks on heavy-duty 4-stroke motorcycles. In Belgium, motocross was even a kind of national sport. It’s no surprise then that many successful motocross riders, such as the five-time 500cc world champion and current Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Roger De Coster, come from the land of the Flemish and Walloons. In 1947, the MX of Nations took place for the first time in Wassenaar, Netherlands as a team competition for national teams, similar to the International Six Days Enduro in enduro racing. For two decades, only Belgian, English, and Swedish teams succeeded in taking the title. The motocross world championship for individual riders only began in 1957. Even today, circuits from the early years, such as Hawkstone Park in Great Britain or the tracks around the Citadel in Namur, Belgium, are still legendary. Motocross was practically unheard of in the USA; offroad sport was held at cross-country races such as the Elsinore Grand Prix and Baja 500, or as flat track at horse racetracks, with a few road races as well. Even enduro racing was considered a highly exotic beast in the USA. It wasn’t until European manufacturers exported their competition bikes to the USA toward the end of the 1960s that crowd-pleasing motocross racing surged in popularity in the USA. Although it would still be a few years until American riders caught up with the stars of the day, such as Roger De Coster or the Scandinavian riders, the spell had been broken. The 1971 race at the Daytona International Speedway marked a first. Up until then motocross races had been held on natural tracks a long way outside cities, however the organizers of the Daytona race constructed an artificial track with spectacular jumps and brought motocross to the spectators. This successful concept was developed further, and just a year later a race was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, one of the largest football stadiums in the USA. The term “Supercross” – a combination of “Super Bowl” (the NFL championship) and “motocross” was also coined at this time. Supercross quickly became one of the most popular motorsports in the USA. In Europe, motocross races were only held in the summer, however in the USA there was not one but two series. Since 1972, the AMA Motocross Championship has been held in the summer. During the winter, the Supercross championships take place in the stadiums, traditionally kicking off during the first weekend of January. Marvin Musquin (FRA) KTM 450 SX-F Detroit (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby Since 2008, the AMA Supercross series has enjoyed world championship status, even though the races are almost always held in the USA. During the heats and a last chance qualifier, around 40 riders compete for one of the 22 starting positions in the final. In the USA, Roger De Coster took the young Frenchman Marvin Musquin under his wing, and, through him, KTM was able to enlist the then 22-year old Ryan Dungey, who received the prestigious Supercross title for KTM three times in a row from 2015 to 2017 before announcing his retirement from active racing at the end of the season. Musquin initially started on the KTM 250 SX-F in the 250 SX Championship, which is held in West and East divisions. He won a total of four races in 2013, including the Supercross in Daytona Beach, which ultimately took him through to the runners-up spot of the East division. Two years later, Musquin was crowned the winner of the 250 SX East Championship before switching to the 450 SX class where he quickly became the “Rookie of the Year 2016”. The current SX season is on course to be one of the most thrilling. After the sixth of seventeen races, just two points separated the top four. Musquin came in eighth place in the kick-off race in Anaheim. Non-stop rain and a muddy track coupled with a training shortfall due to a knee injury in the previous season all prevented him from finishing higher. However, the Frenchman later regained his momentum and obtained his fifth consecutive podium in Arlington. After a slow start, Cooper Webb made an impressive comeback at the second Red Bull Factory KTM, taking leadership on the very last corner and defending it with a lead of less than 0.03 seconds in a neck-to-neck final. With four victories this season, this meant that Cooper Webb also secured the leader’s red plate. After finishing second at the Detroit Triple Crown, it seems that he is the man to beat during the second half of the season; closely followed by his teammate Marvin Musquin, currently placed third in the standings. Marvin Musquin (FRA, #25) & Cooper Webb (USA, #2) Arlington (USA) 2019 © Simon Cudby Photos: Simon Cudby | Ray Archer
  13. The team behind the (Dakar) team or five short stories of love and passion – Part 1 The Dakar Rally is a massive operation, therefore it requires more working hands and ingenious minds than any other cross-country rally of the season. This year, the team backing up the Red Bull KTM Factory Riders included 33 members, achieving a historical result under the command of new team leader, Jordi Viladoms. We talked to five of those who joined the orange family only for Dakar. They came to Lima to take care of riders, team, trucks, motorhomes, and KTM customers. How did they join KTM´s Dakar operation, and what are their roles? How was it once upon a time in Africa, what has changed, what has remained exactly the same, and what’s love got to do with it? Everything! Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin August Linortner, truck driver “I did my first Dakar in 1997. We had a satellite phone the size of luggage we would use only as a last resort. We were travelling without much information, yet that was not our main concern. The truck was too heavy, and it was the truck driver’s first Dakar,” he laughs, pointing at himself. “We were learning how to survive the Dakar as we were doing it. Several times in Mauritania, it took 24 hours from bivouac to bivouac. It was unreal! That place sure wasn’t gentle on our truck; it’s the most arid, unforgiving country you can imagine. We broke everything possible, finishing the African Dakars with completely destroyed trucks. When it came to big repairs, we mostly relied on miracles. Surprise, surprise – they do happen in Africa!” Even though Africa was tough, his eyes light up: “Africa gave us all a feeling of complete freedom. Nothing was granted, nothing was easy, and communication was a real challenge. But people inside and outside the bivouacs were all incredibly friendly. Of course, the Dakar has changed a lot recently. Distances have shortened considerably, motorhomes are now loaded with fresh fruits, the coffee machine is always within reach and assistance always on time. On the other hand, the Dakar will never be easy. I still feel the sense of adventure, and working for such a team is a dream come true.” Before he ventured offroad, the ex-road racer was working for Mike Leitner. Later on, he changed disciplines, yet his work remained more or less the same. “I am taking care of the motorsport fleet trucks, all together there are 15 trucks under my watch. Besides that, I am the handy man of the motorsport building. I solve practically everything,” says a life-long Dakar university student. “I left school at 15, I got my hands dirty and my passion for bikes brought me to the Dakar. This is the university I am still enrolled at, collecting the craziest memories of my life, like all students do.” Red Bull KTM Team Truck Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Tom Haider, personal assistant “This is the third Dakar of my life,” says Tom, preparing the motorhome for Hiasi, nickname for Matthias, and Luciano, the two riders sharing the Dakar home for 10 days. “I’ve known Hiasi for a very long time. We met on the motocross track, where else? We love the same sport, but he is obviously from a different league. I started late, but still competed on national level. Well, occasionally I still put on my riding gear if I am not doing up some old car,” laughs the 34-year-old IT specialist from Salzburg. His story of how he became a mechanic specialized for hard cases, is full of wisdom and therefore, worth sharing. “I was 19 and I´d just bought my first car. It was an old Audi Quattro, with some issues, of course. I took it to the workshop where they were supposed to repair it, but I wasn’t happy with the work done. And even less pleased with the huge amount of money they wanted from me! I was discussing it with the workshop owner, trying to negotiate and lower the price, because I didn’t want to pay for their mistake, when the owner had enough and said to me: ‘Ok, go, but if you don’t like our work, you will have to do it on your own.’ And I did it. Years later, I was thinking about what he said to me and realized how valuable that was. It gave me the power to think that nothing is too difficult for me, and that I can learn all by myself,” remembers Tom. So, he did repair his car. He repaired other people’s cars, mostly old ones with complicated issues. He even built himself a racecar. And all that knowledge brought him all the way to rally sport. For his first race, he prepared during the flight. “I had 40, 50 pages of car instructions and the flight was long enough to study them,” laughs Tom, but admits it was no walk in the park; rally cars are super expensive and you need to be very precise. In contrast to his job where he dealt with rally cars, he didn’t need to study much for the Dakar. Matthias needed somebody to help him, and Tom was perfect for the job. Still, to take care of a rider 24 hours a day: to wake him up, bring him breakfast, help him dress, assist him to get started, and then repeat everything in reverse order when he returns to the bivouac, is not his “only” job. Tom is also the on-duty handy man, responsible for all the motorhomes. “I am here for the whole team,” explains Tom. “Though my main priority is Matthias. I have a lot of work with him, because he knows very well what he wants, but that’s also a reason why working for him is easy.” Matthias Walkner (AUT) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Miquel Pujol, responsible for spare parts Miquel’s Dakar journey begins on the Lisboa-Dakar route in 2006. He was 23 when the invitation arrived, and caught him eager to explore the Dark Continent. He comes from the same village as the Dakar legend Marc Coma, so the path to the rally was a short one. “Basically, Marc recruited me and introduced me to the rally team. At the time, Trunkenpolz was running the team, and 2006 was also the year when our team manager made his debut. That year, Andy Caldecott replaced the injured Jordi Duran, so I took care of his bike. We all know what happened to Andy on January 9, 2006. My first Dakar! I felt completely devastated. The next year, Jordi Viladoms had a big crash, and we again returned home with a bitter taste in our mouths. But that was Africa, it always took its toll. Fortunately, nowadays it happens less,” he says with relief, and adds: “But the most incredible thing is that the core of the team has stuck together all these years. Stefan is still here, as are Rolli, August, Miki and Jordi.” After a break of several years, Miquel made his comeback to the team, and to the Dakar, which in 2009 had switched continents. A few years ago, he would make his own switch from mechanic to spare parts manager, now having approximately 1000 spare parts under his wing. Happy to be part of the KTM Dakar team, he explains: “I didn’t study to work as a mechanic, I am an industrial engineer, but when Marc offered me a job, I grabbed the opportunity to enter motorsports with both hands. The greatest power of KTM is the team spirit. We work like a family, you can feel it. Sure, in the past there was a big rivalry between the French and Spanish teams. Fights between Cyril and Marc were also difficult for the team. Now the air we breathe is lighter, even if the Dakar is always tough. It doesn’t matter how long it is or where we race, it’s still the most unpredictable race in the world.” When the nights are extremely short, Miquel sleeps on the truck, under the stars. When the nights are a bit longer, he might put up the tent. Sometimes, during the night, he would also become nostalgic. Speaking of the joy of being part of the orange family, during the rally expeditions he misses his own. “Sure I want to be a good dad, but it’s not easy with this job. We are away a lot, and this is the major downside. My son is almost three years old and starts to feel my absence.” It’s not the best consolation, but to live your life with two families? Tools & spare parts Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin
  14. The team behind the (Dakar) team or five short stories of love and passion – Part 1 The Dakar Rally is a massive operation, therefore it requires more working hands and ingenious minds than any other cross-country rally of the season. This year, the team backing up the Red Bull KTM Factory Riders included 33 members, achieving a historical result under the command of new team leader, Jordi Viladoms. We talked to five of those who joined the orange family only for Dakar. They came to Lima to take care of riders, team, trucks, motorhomes, and KTM customers. How did they join KTM´s Dakar operation, and what are their roles? How was it once upon a time in Africa, what has changed, what has remained exactly the same, and what’s love got to do with it? Everything! Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin August Linortner, truck driver “I did my first Dakar in 1997. We had a satellite phone the size of luggage we would use only as a last resort. We were travelling without much information, yet that was not our main concern. The truck was too heavy, and it was the truck driver’s first Dakar,” he laughs, pointing at himself. “We were learning how to survive the Dakar as we were doing it. Several times in Mauritania, it took 24 hours from bivouac to bivouac. It was unreal! That place sure wasn’t gentle on our truck; it’s the most arid, unforgiving country you can imagine. We broke everything possible, finishing the African Dakars with completely destroyed trucks. When it came to big repairs, we mostly relied on miracles. Surprise, surprise – they do happen in Africa!” Even though Africa was tough, his eyes light up: “Africa gave us all a feeling of complete freedom. Nothing was granted, nothing was easy, and communication was a real challenge. But people inside and outside the bivouacs were all incredibly friendly. Of course, the Dakar has changed a lot recently. Distances have shortened considerably, motorhomes are now loaded with fresh fruits, the coffee machine is always within reach and assistance always on time. On the other hand, the Dakar will never be easy. I still feel the sense of adventure, and working for such a team is a dream come true.” Before he ventured offroad, the ex-road racer was working for Mike Leitner. Later on, he changed disciplines, yet his work remained more or less the same. “I am taking care of the motorsport fleet trucks, all together there are 15 trucks under my watch. Besides that, I am the handy man of the motorsport building. I solve practically everything,” says a life-long Dakar university student. “I left school at 15, I got my hands dirty and my passion for bikes brought me to the Dakar. This is the university I am still enrolled at, collecting the craziest memories of my life, like all students do.” Red Bull KTM Team Truck Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Tom Haider, personal assistant “This is the third Dakar of my life,” says Tom, preparing the motorhome for Hiasi, nickname for Matthias, and Luciano, the two riders sharing the Dakar home for 10 days. “I’ve known Hiasi for a very long time. We met on the motocross track, where else? We love the same sport, but he is obviously from a different league. I started late, but still competed on national level. Well, occasionally I still put on my riding gear if I am not doing up some old car,” laughs the 34-year-old IT specialist from Salzburg. His story of how he became a mechanic specialized for hard cases, is full of wisdom and therefore, worth sharing. “I was 19 and I´d just bought my first car. It was an old Audi Quattro, with some issues, of course. I took it to the workshop where they were supposed to repair it, but I wasn’t happy with the work done. And even less pleased with the huge amount of money they wanted from me! I was discussing it with the workshop owner, trying to negotiate and lower the price, because I didn’t want to pay for their mistake, when the owner had enough and said to me: ‘Ok, go, but if you don’t like our work, you will have to do it on your own.’ And I did it. Years later, I was thinking about what he said to me and realized how valuable that was. It gave me the power to think that nothing is too difficult for me, and that I can learn all by myself,” remembers Tom. So, he did repair his car. He repaired other people’s cars, mostly old ones with complicated issues. He even built himself a racecar. And all that knowledge brought him all the way to rally sport. For his first race, he prepared during the flight. “I had 40, 50 pages of car instructions and the flight was long enough to study them,” laughs Tom, but admits it was no walk in the park; rally cars are super expensive and you need to be very precise. In contrast to his job where he dealt with rally cars, he didn’t need to study much for the Dakar. Matthias needed somebody to help him, and Tom was perfect for the job. Still, to take care of a rider 24 hours a day: to wake him up, bring him breakfast, help him dress, assist him to get started, and then repeat everything in reverse order when he returns to the bivouac, is not his “only” job. Tom is also the on-duty handy man, responsible for all the motorhomes. “I am here for the whole team,” explains Tom. “Though my main priority is Matthias. I have a lot of work with him, because he knows very well what he wants, but that’s also a reason why working for him is easy.” Matthias Walkner (AUT) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Miquel Pujol, responsible for spare parts Miquel’s Dakar journey begins on the Lisboa-Dakar route in 2006. He was 23 when the invitation arrived, and caught him eager to explore the Dark Continent. He comes from the same village as the Dakar legend Marc Coma, so the path to the rally was a short one. “Basically, Marc recruited me and introduced me to the rally team. At the time, Trunkenpolz was running the team, and 2006 was also the year when our team manager made his debut. That year, Andy Caldecott replaced the injured Jordi Duran, so I took care of his bike. We all know what happened to Andy on January 9, 2006. My first Dakar! I felt completely devastated. The next year, Jordi Viladoms had a big crash, and we again returned home with a bitter taste in our mouths. But that was Africa, it always took its toll. Fortunately, nowadays it happens less,” he says with relief, and adds: “But the most incredible thing is that the core of the team has stuck together all these years. Stefan is still here, as are Rolli, August, Miki and Jordi.” After a break of several years, Miquel made his comeback to the team, and to the Dakar, which in 2009 had switched continents. A few years ago, he would make his own switch from mechanic to spare parts manager, now having approximately 1000 spare parts under his wing. Happy to be part of the KTM Dakar team, he explains: “I didn’t study to work as a mechanic, I am an industrial engineer, but when Marc offered me a job, I grabbed the opportunity to enter motorsports with both hands. The greatest power of KTM is the team spirit. We work like a family, you can feel it. Sure, in the past there was a big rivalry between the French and Spanish teams. Fights between Cyril and Marc were also difficult for the team. Now the air we breathe is lighter, even if the Dakar is always tough. It doesn’t matter how long it is or where we race, it’s still the most unpredictable race in the world.” When the nights are extremely short, Miquel sleeps on the truck, under the stars. When the nights are a bit longer, he might put up the tent. Sometimes, during the night, he would also become nostalgic. Speaking of the joy of being part of the orange family, during the rally expeditions he misses his own. “Sure I want to be a good dad, but it’s not easy with this job. We are away a lot, and this is the major downside. My son is almost three years old and starts to feel my absence.” It’s not the best consolation, but to live your life with two families? Tools & spare parts Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin
  15. Interview of the Month: Nathan Watson – French Beach Race Champion & WESS preview Winner of the French Beach Race Championship and third overall in the World Enduro Super Series, Nathan Watson has enjoyed a memorable 12 months of racing. It’s been a busy, whirlwind 12 months for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson. From classic enduro to beach racing, with hard enduro and cross-country in between, Watson has achieved standout performances in both the World Enduro Super Series and the French Beach Race Championship. Winning the iconic Le Touquet beach race recently gave the young Brit his biggest ever international victory. Nathan Watson (GBR) Le Touquet (FRA) 2019 © P. Haudiquert Contesting the inaugural WESS championship during 2018, Watson threw himself into a wide and varied mix of disciplines. Always delivering his best, he rode admirably in his debut appearances at Erzbergrodeo and Red Bull Romaniacs, while taking a podium result at the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country before winning the Red Bull Knock Out. His ‘never-say-die’ attitude saw him end his WESS campaign in a promising and impressive third overall. With no time to dwell on his success, he quickly turned his attention to his first love of beach racing and the hotly contested French Beach Race Championship. From six rounds, the KTM rider proved himself an eventual worthy champion by winning an astonishing four races. His greatest moment came at the series’ finale – the grueling Enduropale du Touquet. A come-from-behind ride to victory saw the young Brit achieve a childhood dream as he etched his name onto the winner’s trophy at the world-famous race. Nathan Watson (GBR) KTM 450 SX-F Le Touquet (FRA) 2019 © P. Haudiquert With his championship celebrations now over, the KTM BLOG spoke to Nathan about his recent accomplishments, what’s been a varied and challenging 12 months and the 2019 WESS season, which begins in May … Congratulations Nathan on winning the Enduropale du Touquet. How does it feel to have won the world’s single most important beach race? “It’s incredible to have won Le Touquet. It’s such an iconic race, that’s been running long before I was even born. I don’t think the enormity of the result has really sunk in yet. I’ve dreamed of winning this race since I was a child and followed it throughout my racing career, hoping one day I could be in this position I’m in now. To actually tick it off my bucket list is awesome – it’s a career highlight for sure.” What makes the race itself so difficult to master? “There’s so many factors that can go wrong in the race, which makes it so hard to win. For a start the volume of riders is insane. There’s over 1000 competitors out on track from all ability levels. The track itself is about 15 kilometers long. One half is flat out and the other is enormous sand whoops. When you factor that and dodging slower traffic for three hours, it becomes so physical and so risky at high speed. It’s really easy for something to go wrong and that’s what makes it so hard to get right on the day.” Your Enduropale du Touquet victory also led to you winning the French Beach Race series. Did that result come by surprise? “Arriving at Le Touquet I was third overall in the standings and 40 points behind leader Milko Potisek, so winning the title felt out of reach. But then this is a race where anything can and usually does happen, so I didn’t rule it out. However, when Milko and myself were racing for the win on the final two laps I was sure the title was his. However, after I crossed the finish line we began to notice that he hadn’t appeared. As other riders finished, suddenly winning the title was a possibility. It was kind of something we didn’t expect to happen, so it’s been great to wrap that up too. To win the championship with a victory at Le Touquet is a fantastic end to a brilliant season. I can’t thank KTM and the team enough for their support.” Nathan Watson (GBR) & Team Le Touquet (FRA) 2019 © P. Haudiquert It’s been an incredible beach racing season for KTM by winning the championship, Enduropale du Touquet and of course the Red Bull Knock Out. What contributing factor has led to such dominance? “Beach racing is very much a team effort. I don’t think people realize just how complex it is. There are so many factors to consider – the length of the course, the firmness of the sand, volume of riders and how all those things affect fuel consumption and pitstop strategy. I’m lucky to have a great crew behind me and in particular our team manager Tof Meyer, who’s so passionate about it. He was Antoine Meo’s old trainer and he stepped forward to take on management of the team when Antoine moved to rally. His wealth of knowledge about this sport is incredible. Nothing’s overlooked – even down to knowing which side of start line has the firmest sand, in order to get the best start. When you line up against 1000 riders, it’s the details like this which prove critical and a reason why, with Tof’s expertise, we’ve become the team to beat.” How does the beach race setup of your KTM 450 SX-F differ from a motocross one? “My beach racing KTM 450 SX-F is a special bike. It really only works best in a beach race and when riding above 80 per cent because the setup is so unique and stiff. We run a longer swingarm to increase the wheel base length and improve stability at such high speeds. The front forks are set below the top of the triple clamps to try and lengthen it that bit further, so it doesn’t do tight 180 degree turns. The suspension is harder and stiffer all round because there are only a few changes of direction on the track. Really, you want it to work best in a straight line over sand whoops. You need top-end speed for the main straight, but still need responsive power to negotiate the whoops. To get around that we run a six-speed enduro gearbox, but gearing is always a debate depending on how the course is laid out. Our sprocket ratio for Le Touquet was 13:50. I generally prefer to run a 50-tooth rear sprocket to suit the whoops but that can make the engine rev too high on the straight. I did lose out on top speed on the main straight but gained a lot on the whoops.” Nathan Watson (GBR) KTM 450 SX-F Le Touquet (FRA) 2019 © P. Haudiquert Looking forward to the upcoming World Enduro Super Series, what’s your thoughts on the season ahead having finished third overall in 2018? “I like the mix of events on the calendar this year. It’s 50/50 between classic enduro and hard enduro, so it doesn’t necessarily favor one specific discipline. With a full year of WESS under my belt I have a better idea of what to expect for the hard enduro races too. They proved a huge learning curve to me last year and by having raced them I can now tailor my training and preparation to suit. I think that’s what took me most by surprise – the fact that each hard enduro race is so different. Classic enduro has a consistent format and routine regardless of event, whereas Erzbergrodeo is a four-hour race and Red Bull Romaniacs is five days.” Are there any events that stand out to you the most and where you will aim to deliver you best results in? “Outside of beach racing I’m a classic enduro rider at heart, so I will want to deliver my best in those races. Also, the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country is my home race. I was second there in 2018 and would really love to go one place better next September. I saw first hand just how important a win can be in the series. Winning Red Bull Knock Out lifted me up to third in the final championship standings, so I’ll be pushing hard to take a victory where I can. With four classic enduro races I know I have a very strong chance to improve on my result of third overall from last year.” Nathan Watson (GBR) KTM 350 EXC-F Hawkstone Park (GBR) 2018 © Future7Media The 2019 World Enduro Super Series begins at Portugal’s Extreme XL Lagares on May 10-12. Photos: P. Haudiquert | Future7Media
  16. Interview of the Month: Nathan Watson – French Beach Race Champion & WESS preview Winner of the French Beach Race Championship and third overall in the World Enduro Super Series, Nathan Watson has enjoyed a memorable 12 months of racing. It’s been a busy, whirlwind 12 months for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Nathan Watson. From classic enduro to beach racing, with hard enduro and cross-country in between, Watson has achieved standout performances in both the World Enduro Super Series and the French Beach Race Championship. Winning the iconic Le Touquet beach race recently gave the young Brit his biggest ever international victory. Nathan Watson (GBR) Le Touquet (FRA) 2019 © P. Haudiquert Contesting the inaugural WESS championship during 2018, Watson threw himself into a wide and varied mix of disciplines. Always delivering his best, he rode admirably in his debut appearances at Erzbergrodeo and Red Bull Romaniacs, while taking a podium result at the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country before winning the Red Bull Knock Out. His ‘never-say-die’ attitude saw him end his WESS campaign in a promising and impressive third overall. With no time to dwell on his success, he quickly turned his attention to his first love of beach racing and the hotly contested French Beach Race Championship. From six rounds, the KTM rider proved himself an eventual worthy champion by winning an astonishing four races. His greatest moment came at the series’ finale – the grueling Enduropale du Touquet. A come-from-behind ride to victory saw the young Brit achieve a childhood dream as he etched his name onto the winner’s trophy at the world-famous race. Nathan Watson (GBR) KTM 450 SX-F Le Touquet (FRA) 2019 © P. Haudiquert With his championship celebrations now over, the KTM BLOG spoke to Nathan about his recent accomplishments, what’s been a varied and challenging 12 months and the 2019 WESS season, which begins in May … Congratulations Nathan on winning the Enduropale du Touquet. How does it feel to have won the world’s single most important beach race? “It’s incredible to have won Le Touquet. It’s such an iconic race, that’s been running long before I was even born. I don’t think the enormity of the result has really sunk in yet. I’ve dreamed of winning this race since I was a child and followed it throughout my racing career, hoping one day I could be in this position I’m in now. To actually tick it off my bucket list is awesome – it’s a career highlight for sure.” What makes the race itself so difficult to master? “There’s so many factors that can go wrong in the race, which makes it so hard to win. For a start the volume of riders is insane. There’s over 1000 competitors out on track from all ability levels. The track itself is about 15 kilometers long. One half is flat out and the other is enormous sand whoops. When you factor that and dodging slower traffic for three hours, it becomes so physical and so risky at high speed. It’s really easy for something to go wrong and that’s what makes it so hard to get right on the day.” Your Enduropale du Touquet victory also led to you winning the French Beach Race series. Did that result come by surprise? “Arriving at Le Touquet I was third overall in the standings and 40 points behind leader Milko Potisek, so winning the title felt out of reach. But then this is a race where anything can and usually does happen, so I didn’t rule it out. However, when Milko and myself were racing for the win on the final two laps I was sure the title was his. However, after I crossed the finish line we began to notice that he hadn’t appeared. As other riders finished, suddenly winning the title was a possibility. It was kind of something we didn’t expect to happen, so it’s been great to wrap that up too. To win the championship with a victory at Le Touquet is a fantastic end to a brilliant season. I can’t thank KTM and the team enough for their support.” Nathan Watson (GBR) & Team Le Touquet (FRA) 2019 © P. Haudiquert It’s been an incredible beach racing season for KTM by winning the championship, Enduropale du Touquet and of course the Red Bull Knock Out. What contributing factor has led to such dominance? “Beach racing is very much a team effort. I don’t think people realize just how complex it is. There are so many factors to consider – the length of the course, the firmness of the sand, volume of riders and how all those things affect fuel consumption and pitstop strategy. I’m lucky to have a great crew behind me and in particular our team manager Tof Meyer, who’s so passionate about it. He was Antoine Meo’s old trainer and he stepped forward to take on management of the team when Antoine moved to rally. His wealth of knowledge about this sport is incredible. Nothing’s overlooked – even down to knowing which side of start line has the firmest sand, in order to get the best start. When you line up against 1000 riders, it’s the details like this which prove critical and a reason why, with Tof’s expertise, we’ve become the team to beat.” How does the beach race setup of your KTM 450 SX-F differ from a motocross one? “My beach racing KTM 450 SX-F is a special bike. It really only works best in a beach race and when riding above 80 per cent because the setup is so unique and stiff. We run a longer swingarm to increase the wheel base length and improve stability at such high speeds. The front forks are set below the top of the triple clamps to try and lengthen it that bit further, so it doesn’t do tight 180 degree turns. The suspension is harder and stiffer all round because there are only a few changes of direction on the track. Really, you want it to work best in a straight line over sand whoops. You need top-end speed for the main straight, but still need responsive power to negotiate the whoops. To get around that we run a six-speed enduro gearbox, but gearing is always a debate depending on how the course is laid out. Our sprocket ratio for Le Touquet was 13:50. I generally prefer to run a 50-tooth rear sprocket to suit the whoops but that can make the engine rev too high on the straight. I did lose out on top speed on the main straight but gained a lot on the whoops.” Nathan Watson (GBR) KTM 450 SX-F Le Touquet (FRA) 2019 © P. Haudiquert Looking forward to the upcoming World Enduro Super Series, what’s your thoughts on the season ahead having finished third overall in 2018? “I like the mix of events on the calendar this year. It’s 50/50 between classic enduro and hard enduro, so it doesn’t necessarily favor one specific discipline. With a full year of WESS under my belt I have a better idea of what to expect for the hard enduro races too. They proved a huge learning curve to me last year and by having raced them I can now tailor my training and preparation to suit. I think that’s what took me most by surprise – the fact that each hard enduro race is so different. Classic enduro has a consistent format and routine regardless of event, whereas Erzbergrodeo is a four-hour race and Red Bull Romaniacs is five days.” Are there any events that stand out to you the most and where you will aim to deliver you best results in? “Outside of beach racing I’m a classic enduro rider at heart, so I will want to deliver my best in those races. Also, the Hawkstone Park Cross-Country is my home race. I was second there in 2018 and would really love to go one place better next September. I saw first hand just how important a win can be in the series. Winning Red Bull Knock Out lifted me up to third in the final championship standings, so I’ll be pushing hard to take a victory where I can. With four classic enduro races I know I have a very strong chance to improve on my result of third overall from last year.” Nathan Watson (GBR) KTM 350 EXC-F Hawkstone Park (GBR) 2018 © Future7Media The 2019 World Enduro Super Series begins at Portugal’s Extreme XL Lagares on May 10-12. Photos: P. Haudiquert | Future7Media
  17. Floating the Armada: 2019 KTM MotoGP™ lineup gets ready for the sea Posted in Bikes, Racing Nine riders and motorcycles filled the new City Hall building in Mattighofen. The 2019 presentation not only showcased the fresh faces and colors that will adorn KTM’s fastest ever collection of race machinery but also the stunning breadth of the factory’s effort in MotoGPTM. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP Team Presentation 2019 © Sebas Romero KTM AG CEO Stefan Pierer may have said “in this racing world we are still beginners” in reference to only the third year of ‘orange presence’ in the MotoGPTM category (seven in total in Grand Prix after claiming the inaugural year of Moto3 in 2012) but the company now has a longer spread than any other motorcycle brand in the FIM World Championship. A rider can take his first steps in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup with a KTM RC 250 GP (the feeder series established in 2007 and racing at seven of the MotoGPTM events in 2019) and progress through Moto3, Moto2 and up to one of four bikes in the flagship class. It was this ‘visual map’ to world championship acclaim (minus the Rookies machine) that was so stark on a stage that also contained five world titles, more than sixty Grand Prix wins and over one-hundred-and-fifty podiums. There were three teams and three different types of motorcycle and French, Spanish, Portuguese, Malaysian, Italian, South African, German and Turkish talent watched over by management figures and experienced experts like Aki Ajo, Pit Beirer, Mike Leitner and Hervé Poncharal. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP Team Presentation 2019 © Sebas Romero The orange, black, blue and stunning chrome decaling decorated bikes of 250cc, 765cc and 1000cc and the overall line-up reads: MotoGP Pol Espargaró – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Johann Zarco – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Miguel Oliveira – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Hafizh Syahrin – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Moto2 Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Ajo Jorge Martin – Red Bull KTM Ajo Marco Bezzecchi – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Philipp Öttl – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Moto3 Can Öncü – Red Bull KTM Ajo “It’s a very special moment for me and another milestone; seeing this structure in place,” said Beirer, dressed in the same collarless jacket-and-suit combo worn by all of KTM’s largest road racing collective ever created. “We have been building it since 2012 and it is all in place now.” Can Öncü (TUR), Jorge Martin (ESP), Brad Binder (RSA), Pol Espargaró (ESP), Johann Zarco (FRA), Miguel Oliveira (POR), Hafizh Syahrin (MAL), Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) & Philipp Öttl (GER) © Sebas Romero The German likened the ladder through the MotoGPTM levels to the similar philosophy applied to Junior, European and then World Championship racing in offroad, principally motocross and MXGP where the factory have seen teenage ‘promise’ like Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen, Jeffrey Herlings, Jordi Tixier, Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado mature into FIM title winners. KTM have long been a major player on the dirt and now the rush is on to reach similar gains across the asphalt. “This is a five-year program and by the end we want to see podiums and for the upcoming racing season I’d like to see single digit results; that’s realistic because we are still collecting data and we miss all the experience of our competitors,” said Stefan Pierer with typical defiance and no shortage of ambition. “For 2019 – in gambler’s speak – it’s ‘all in’.” MotoGPTM has the second of two official pre-season tests from the February 23-25 at Losail in Qatar with the season starting at the same venue on March 10. [embedded content] Photos: Sebas Romero
  18. Floating the Armada: 2019 KTM MotoGP™ lineup gets ready for the sea Posted in Bikes, Racing Nine riders and motorcycles filled the new City Hall building in Mattighofen. The 2019 presentation not only showcased the fresh faces and colors that will adorn KTM’s fastest ever collection of race machinery but also the stunning breadth of the factory’s effort in MotoGPTM. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP Team Presentation 2019 © Sebas Romero KTM AG CEO Stefan Pierer may have said “in this racing world we are still beginners” in reference to only the third year of ‘orange presence’ in the MotoGPTM category (seven in total in Grand Prix after claiming the inaugural year of Moto3 in 2012) but the company now has a longer spread than any other motorcycle brand in the FIM World Championship. A rider can take his first steps in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup with a KTM RC 250 GP (the feeder series established in 2007 and racing at seven of the MotoGPTM events in 2019) and progress through Moto3, Moto2 and up to one of four bikes in the flagship class. It was this ‘visual map’ to world championship acclaim (minus the Rookies machine) that was so stark on a stage that also contained five world titles, more than sixty Grand Prix wins and over one-hundred-and-fifty podiums. There were three teams and three different types of motorcycle and French, Spanish, Portuguese, Malaysian, Italian, South African, German and Turkish talent watched over by management figures and experienced experts like Aki Ajo, Pit Beirer, Mike Leitner and Hervé Poncharal. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP Team Presentation 2019 © Sebas Romero The orange, black, blue and stunning chrome decaling decorated bikes of 250cc, 765cc and 1000cc and the overall line-up reads: MotoGP Pol Espargaró – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Johann Zarco – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Miguel Oliveira – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Hafizh Syahrin – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Moto2 Brad Binder – Red Bull KTM Ajo Jorge Martin – Red Bull KTM Ajo Marco Bezzecchi – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Philipp Öttl – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Moto3 Can Öncü – Red Bull KTM Ajo “It’s a very special moment for me and another milestone; seeing this structure in place,” said Beirer, dressed in the same collarless jacket-and-suit combo worn by all of KTM’s largest road racing collective ever created. “We have been building it since 2012 and it is all in place now.” Can Öncü (TUR), Jorge Martin (ESP), Brad Binder (RSA), Pol Espargaró (ESP), Johann Zarco (FRA), Miguel Oliveira (POR), Hafizh Syahrin (MAL), Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) & Philipp Öttl (GER) © Sebas Romero The German likened the ladder through the MotoGPTM levels to the similar philosophy applied to Junior, European and then World Championship racing in offroad, principally motocross and MXGP where the factory have seen teenage ‘promise’ like Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen, Jeffrey Herlings, Jordi Tixier, Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado mature into FIM title winners. KTM have long been a major player on the dirt and now the rush is on to reach similar gains across the asphalt. “This is a five-year program and by the end we want to see podiums and for the upcoming racing season I’d like to see single digit results; that’s realistic because we are still collecting data and we miss all the experience of our competitors,” said Stefan Pierer with typical defiance and no shortage of ambition. “For 2019 – in gambler’s speak – it’s ‘all in’.” MotoGPTM has the second of two official pre-season tests from the February 23-25 at Losail in Qatar with the season starting at the same venue on March 10. [embedded content] Photos: Sebas Romero
  19. Fresh Orange Talent: KTM UK Youth Team Makes Its Mark Posted in Bikes, Racing When you’re READY TO RACE age is irrelevant. Adrenalin courses through veins, young or old. Passion fills hearts, youthful or mature. Determination grits teeth, be they baby or adult. Regardless of whether you’ve got school or work to go to on Monday, when the gate drops every racer’s aspiration is to reach the chequered flag first. That desire was spotted in seven special riders that were selected to compete for the Judd Orange Brigade, KTM UK’s official youth motocross team. 2018 was the inaugural season for the squad, with KTM UK joining forces with Judd Racing, a youth motocross parts specialist, to form the team. With national championship winning representation at senior level, KTM UK wanted to provide a platform for the next generation of racers to hone their skills. “Because KTM are market leaders in the youth competition market, the easy thing would be to let that racing scene look after itself,” says KTM UK Managing Director, Matt Walker. “But we have a responsibility to ensure that racing at junior levels is healthy and with this new program KTM UK is providing the opportunity for young racers to graduate into our senior teams and to possibly make a career in the sport.” L to R: Billy Askew, Archie Britton, Jack Grayshon, Zane Stephens, Drew Anderson, Bailey Johnston, Aaron-Lee Hanson © TooFastMedia The seven riders that comprised Judd Orange Brigade’s first intake of pilots in 2018 were armed with new KTM SX machinery shod with KTM PowerParts and WP suspension. The team were then decked out in KTM PowerWear to ensure that they had all the right equipment for the tough season ahead. Some riders were bristling with experience, others were showing the first signs of talent, so it took a keen eye from Michelle Arnold from Judd Racing to pick the seven that would battle it out for 2018 honors. Running from KTM 50 SX to KTM 250 SX-F, every class had Judd Orange Brigade representation in it, with the riders running from a paddock set-up to rival many senior teams. The British Youth Nationals (now British Youth Championship) is the official national championship for youth riders in the UK, and was the prime focus of the Judd Orange Brigade in their first season. The six round series has developed racers that have gone on to international level racing, pro contracts and junior world championship rides. The weekend long events are popular, with four races across two days to ensure that each rider gets as much saddle time as possible. The pocket rockets in the championship would race all night if they could fit lights to their bikes, but lots of race time means fast-tracking skills and honing race craft at some of the best tracks in the UK. The competition in each class is intense, and would test every rider in the Judd Orange Brigade. © TooFastMedia There are so many unknowns ahead of any season, regardless of how well training has gone in the run up to round one. Most of the Judd Orange Brigade had campaigned in the series before, but moves to bigger bikes, switched machines or an influx of new talent into the championship means that no-one can ever be sure of how a season will pan out. Zane Stephens, jumping on a KTM 65 SX for the first time, showed his potential by scoring a third in the (indoor) UK Arenacross series that precedes the outdoor season – an impressive achievement for the youngest rider in the field. But the rest of the team would have to wait while the tracks in the UK dried after a very wet UK winter. After the weather stymied the start of the season, the delayed first round got underway well for the team. The Judd Orange Brigade quickly confirmed that the team were a force to be reckoned with thanks to a string of wins and a pair of overall firsts as proof that the team hit the ground running. Any race season has its ups and its downs, but aside from the odd hiccup, injury, puncture or crash the Judd Orange Brigade took the British Youth Nationals by storm. The next rounds proved that this was no fluke as the team built on each other’s success throughout the season. More success means more camaraderie within the team, buoyed on by more wins. © TooFastMedia While their school mates would have been away on holidays in the summer, the Judd Orange Brigade were hard at work, refining their skills at a boot camp put on for the team by KTM UK. Rider coaching, WP suspension set-up, psychological training, social media and presentation skills were all experienced by the team over two intense days on track. This was an opportunity for the team to gel in a less competitive environment, so each rider could focus on building on their strengths. Any weaknesses were confronted by Jen Duffee, a rider development coach who focuses on the bit between each rider’s ears. Arguably, this was the most difficult session of all, and certainly one that was alien to most riders, but the way they took all of Duffee’s advice on board was impressive. The results of the boot camp were clear to see – Bailey Johnston and Aaron-Lee Hanson both went 1-1-1-1, Jack Grayshon took three wins out of four and Drew Anderson took a pair of wins. The rest of the team also pushed forward impressively. However, in the last race of the penultimate round the youngest member of the team, Archie Britton, showed his mettle by jumping back on his bike to finish the meeting with an ankle he’d broken in four places showing that those in the Judd Orange Brigade are made of sturdy stuff. With everything to play for, and with calculators at the ready, the Judd Orange Brigade headed into the last round at Weston, home of the infamous beach race, in hope rather than expectation. Bailey Johnston and Aaron-Lee Hanson arrived leading their championships, but the rest of the team would have to battle hard for any glory. But only six would race at Weston, with Britton dropping from second to fifth by the end of the year. The track at Weston-Super-Mare had been converted from the beach race into a challenging MX track, and the championship’s first visit to the seaside venue would present the whole paddock with many unknowns. But the sand proved to be no barrier for Bailey Johnston and Aaron-Lee Hanson who cemented their championship leads at the final round to win their respective 2018 crowns. The surprises came in the 125 and 85 Big Wheel categories as Drew Anderson and Jack Grayshon turned round their fortunes and winning the round to win the series. Grayshon started the campaign with a DNF, so to finish it on top shows just how wildly a season can swing. With Billy Askew finishing the year in fourth and Zane Stephens an encouraging 10th in his first year on a KTM 65 SX the Judd Orange Brigade finished the season on a high. Bailey Johnston (#19) KTM 85 SX © TooFastMedia Ecstatic riders loved their first season with the team. On his victory, Drew Anderson said: “What a great year this has been for me, with so many ups and downs, we got it done, 2018 British Champ, 2018 Masterkids Champ. I’d love to thank everyone that made this possible, especially my family and sponsors.” Bailey Johnston, meanwhile, acknowledged a job well done, while refocusing on the job in 2019: “Well it’s been an amazing 2018, I completed all of my goals and extra! I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone that helped me, because I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. Now onto 2019 to chase more dreams.” Who’d bet against them not saying the same in the pro ranks … Drew Anderson KTM 125 SX © TooFastMedia Four titles out of the six on offer is a hugely impressive haul for any team, especially in its first year. Team manager Michelle Arnold couldn’t have been more proud at the season’s end. “2018 was a fantastic season for the Judd Orange Brigade. Winning 4 out of the 6 British Youth titles contended at the Judd KTM British Youth Championship in our first year was an awesome achievement, the whole team raced brilliantly, we are so proud of them all! We’ve now set the bar very high, but that was always the intention when we set up the team with KTM.” But you’re only as good as your last set of results, and the off season has been a busy one for the team and the riders within. According to Michelle Arnold: “The team has expanded for 2019 from seven to ten riders, with some great new talent joining us. We have big hopes for all of our riders for the forthcoming season. The reason to enlarge the team is to successfully manage the progression and continuity of each rider’s achievements. When stepping up in an age group, we need to aid the development of each rider’s skills whilst still challenging in every youth class. We can’t wait for it to start!” Giving one rider the chance to hone his or her skills while another makes an assault on the championship future proves the team’s ambitions and ensures that KTM and the Judd Orange Brigade are driving youth racing forward in the UK. As the countdown to the 2019 season nears its end, the enlarged team is READY TO RACE! [embedded content] Photos: TooFastMedia
  20. Fresh Orange Talent: KTM UK Youth Team Makes Its Mark

    Fresh Orange Talent: KTM UK Youth Team Makes Its Mark Posted in Bikes, Racing When you’re READY TO RACE age is irrelevant. Adrenalin courses through veins, young or old. Passion fills hearts, youthful or mature. Determination grits teeth, be they baby or adult. Regardless of whether you’ve got school or work to go to on Monday, when the gate drops every racer’s aspiration is to reach the chequered flag first. That desire was spotted in seven special riders that were selected to compete for the Judd Orange Brigade, KTM UK’s official youth motocross team. 2018 was the inaugural season for the squad, with KTM UK joining forces with Judd Racing, a youth motocross parts specialist, to form the team. With national championship winning representation at senior level, KTM UK wanted to provide a platform for the next generation of racers to hone their skills. “Because KTM are market leaders in the youth competition market, the easy thing would be to let that racing scene look after itself,” says KTM UK Managing Director, Matt Walker. “But we have a responsibility to ensure that racing at junior levels is healthy and with this new program KTM UK is providing the opportunity for young racers to graduate into our senior teams and to possibly make a career in the sport.” L to R: Billy Askew, Archie Britton, Jack Grayshon, Zane Stephens, Drew Anderson, Bailey Johnston, Aaron-Lee Hanson © TooFastMedia The seven riders that comprised Judd Orange Brigade’s first intake of pilots in 2018 were armed with new KTM SX machinery shod with KTM PowerParts and WP suspension. The team were then decked out in KTM PowerWear to ensure that they had all the right equipment for the tough season ahead. Some riders were bristling with experience, others were showing the first signs of talent, so it took a keen eye from Michelle Arnold from Judd Racing to pick the seven that would battle it out for 2018 honors. Running from KTM 50 SX to KTM 250 SX-F, every class had Judd Orange Brigade representation in it, with the riders running from a paddock set-up to rival many senior teams. The British Youth Nationals (now British Youth Championship) is the official national championship for youth riders in the UK, and was the prime focus of the Judd Orange Brigade in their first season. The six round series has developed racers that have gone on to international level racing, pro contracts and junior world championship rides. The weekend long events are popular, with four races across two days to ensure that each rider gets as much saddle time as possible. The pocket rockets in the championship would race all night if they could fit lights to their bikes, but lots of race time means fast-tracking skills and honing race craft at some of the best tracks in the UK. The competition in each class is intense, and would test every rider in the Judd Orange Brigade. © TooFastMedia There are so many unknowns ahead of any season, regardless of how well training has gone in the run up to round one. Most of the Judd Orange Brigade had campaigned in the series before, but moves to bigger bikes, switched machines or an influx of new talent into the championship means that no-one can ever be sure of how a season will pan out. Zane Stephens, jumping on a KTM 65 SX for the first time, showed his potential by scoring a third in the (indoor) UK Arenacross series that precedes the outdoor season – an impressive achievement for the youngest rider in the field. But the rest of the team would have to wait while the tracks in the UK dried after a very wet UK winter. After the weather stymied the start of the season, the delayed first round got underway well for the team. The Judd Orange Brigade quickly confirmed that the team were a force to be reckoned with thanks to a string of wins and a pair of overall firsts as proof that the team hit the ground running. Any race season has its ups and its downs, but aside from the odd hiccup, injury, puncture or crash the Judd Orange Brigade took the British Youth Nationals by storm. The next rounds proved that this was no fluke as the team built on each other’s success throughout the season. More success means more camaraderie within the team, buoyed on by more wins. © TooFastMedia While their school mates would have been away on holidays in the summer, the Judd Orange Brigade were hard at work, refining their skills at a boot camp put on for the team by KTM UK. Rider coaching, WP suspension set-up, psychological training, social media and presentation skills were all experienced by the team over two intense days on track. This was an opportunity for the team to gel in a less competitive environment, so each rider could focus on building on their strengths. Any weaknesses were confronted by Jen Duffee, a rider development coach who focuses on the bit between each rider’s ears. Arguably, this was the most difficult session of all, and certainly one that was alien to most riders, but the way they took all of Duffee’s advice on board was impressive. The results of the boot camp were clear to see – Bailey Johnston and Aaron-Lee Hanson both went 1-1-1-1, Jack Grayshon took three wins out of four and Drew Anderson took a pair of wins. The rest of the team also pushed forward impressively. However, in the last race of the penultimate round the youngest member of the team, Archie Britton, showed his mettle by jumping back on his bike to finish the meeting with an ankle he’d broken in four places showing that those in the Judd Orange Brigade are made of sturdy stuff. With everything to play for, and with calculators at the ready, the Judd Orange Brigade headed into the last round at Weston, home of the infamous beach race, in hope rather than expectation. Bailey Johnston and Aaron-Lee Hanson arrived leading their championships, but the rest of the team would have to battle hard for any glory. But only six would race at Weston, with Britton dropping from second to fifth by the end of the year. The track at Weston-Super-Mare had been converted from the beach race into a challenging MX track, and the championship’s first visit to the seaside venue would present the whole paddock with many unknowns. But the sand proved to be no barrier for Bailey Johnston and Aaron-Lee Hanson who cemented their championship leads at the final round to win their respective 2018 crowns. The surprises came in the 125 and 85 Big Wheel categories as Drew Anderson and Jack Grayshon turned round their fortunes and winning the round to win the series. Grayshon started the campaign with a DNF, so to finish it on top shows just how wildly a season can swing. With Billy Askew finishing the year in fourth and Zane Stephens an encouraging 10th in his first year on a KTM 65 SX the Judd Orange Brigade finished the season on a high. Bailey Johnston (#19) KTM 85 SX © TooFastMedia Ecstatic riders loved their first season with the team. On his victory, Drew Anderson said: “What a great year this has been for me, with so many ups and downs, we got it done, 2018 British Champ, 2018 Masterkids Champ. I’d love to thank everyone that made this possible, especially my family and sponsors.” Bailey Johnston, meanwhile, acknowledged a job well done, while refocusing on the job in 2019: “Well it’s been an amazing 2018, I completed all of my goals and extra! I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone that helped me, because I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. Now onto 2019 to chase more dreams.” Who’d bet against them not saying the same in the pro ranks … Drew Anderson KTM 125 SX © TooFastMedia Four titles out of the six on offer is a hugely impressive haul for any team, especially in its first year. Team manager Michelle Arnold couldn’t have been more proud at the season’s end. “2018 was a fantastic season for the Judd Orange Brigade. Winning 4 out of the 6 British Youth titles contended at the Judd KTM British Youth Championship in our first year was an awesome achievement, the whole team raced brilliantly, we are so proud of them all! We’ve now set the bar very high, but that was always the intention when we set up the team with KTM.” But you’re only as good as your last set of results, and the off season has been a busy one for the team and the riders within. According to Michelle Arnold: “The team has expanded for 2019 from seven to ten riders, with some great new talent joining us. We have big hopes for all of our riders for the forthcoming season. The reason to enlarge the team is to successfully manage the progression and continuity of each rider’s achievements. When stepping up in an age group, we need to aid the development of each rider’s skills whilst still challenging in every youth class. We can’t wait for it to start!” Giving one rider the chance to hone his or her skills while another makes an assault on the championship future proves the team’s ambitions and ensures that KTM and the Judd Orange Brigade are driving youth racing forward in the UK. As the countdown to the 2019 season nears its end, the enlarged team is READY TO RACE! [embedded content] Photos: TooFastMedia
  21. The highs and lows of the 2019 Dakar Rally – Sam Sunderland Posted in People, Racing Sam Sunderland talks openly about how tough the 2019 Dakar proved to be with extreme highs and lows arriving with each stage of the infamous rally. No offroad sport is more mentally taxing than the Dakar Rally. 10, maybe as much as 15 hours alone inside your helmet racing at high speeds across unknown deserts in tough riding conditions for day after day, all on top of four or five hours sleep a night. This is Dakar they say and for rally racers like Sam Sunderland and his Red Bull KTM Factory team-mates these are the realities of racing the toughest race on earth. Sam Sunderland (GBR) 2019 © Sebas Romero For Sunderland the 2019 Dakar Rally threw a wild mix of issues above and beyond the norm. Dealing with a badly injured fellow competitor, stage wins and mechanical issues including riding with no brakes, were all in the script. The biggest blow came when he was incorrectly docked an hour time penalty by race organizers – but that came later … The list of events “derailing” Sam’s plan for Dakar 2019 began in week one, stage five when he witnessed and helped deal with a crashed rider, Paulo Goncalves. “I saw him crash, directly called the helicopter and assisted him as I could with some water, getting his gear off and trying to make him as comfortable as I could even though he was in a lot of pain,” explains Sunderland. Pro racers are focused individuals naturally, but still humans and a fellow competitor’s well-being comes first. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin With the medics on the scene Sam was back on his bike again but both lost in terms of his pace and position in the race and unsettled: “I thought all of my work and the team’s work was going down the pan because I’d stopped to help another rider. I was a bit angry and really was just swinging off it trying to get by all these slower riders. I didn’t really have any reference to know where I was in terms of time.” The result was a stage win for Sam, a fact ordinarily you’d expect to be a positive for a rider? “The problem was nobody wanted to win that stage because everyone was petrified of opening the Tacna stage [following day] because they knew it was going to be hell!” says Sam. “I got to the finish and the media was there all going, ‘congratulations Sam, you won the stage’ and I was like, ‘Nooo!’ Outwardly I was having to be cool but riding back to the bivouac I was almost crying in my helmet thinking I’d just jacked up my whole race.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin The drama wasn’t over yet. “I actually opened Tacna really well and was super-pleased with my navigation.” But things took a turn quickly when he unknowingly hit a rock and broke his rear brake disc. “I looked down the whole disc was off the hub somehow. Every bolt had bust off and I still had 100-odd kilometers to go in the special. I continued but the caliper came off and started to hit me in the leg so I had to stop and pull it all off, cut the brake line and that’s where all the time went.” Riders must learn to deal with these set-backs (including riding 100s of kilometers in sand with no brake!) and must adopt a psychological reset button or an emotional mute button inside the head to lock away the problem and deal with what is in front and not behind. “The next day I won the stage because I had no choice. The only thing I could do was try and make up time by going all out to win. From that point onwards I could only deal with what I had,” explains Sam, perfectly illustrating the point. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin But Sunderland’s Dakar took yet another twist the following night after stage seven when organizers issued an hour time penalty. Sam explains exactly how events unfolded: “I went to go in the stage and they stopped me saying there is a problem with your iritrack, there was no power, I changed the fuse and I was ready to go. I could have left sooner but they re-seeded me to fourth place at the start line.” Innocent until proven guilty? Not in Dakar. Back at the bivouac race organization made the leap Sam had deliberately tampered with his bike in order to not be first on the stage. “I was fuming,” explains Sam. “I had big discussions with the organizers, the FIM, with my team manager and it was no budge. They were standing firm on it and I was out the rally effectively.” In the rider’s mind at this point all is lost. 12 months leading up to Dakar, all the issues already overcome during the 2019 rally were blown away with a blown fuse. Sam says he was so angry he was ready to throw in the towel but out of respect for his mechanic and the KTM rally team he continued onwards. “Having four or five hours sleep each night and riding for hours or whatever is tough but to have all this other stuff piled on is difficult,” explains Sam. The perhaps unseen effect of getting a penalty from the organizers is how you are then viewed by your peers: “When the organizer gives you the penalty it is like a stamp of confirmation that you did something wrong. It looks to everyone else like they found factual evidence – of course I knew I hadn’t but from everybody’s side it looked like I had.” “How did I deal with all that piled on top? Not very well to be honest, my head was in the clouds,” says Sunderland. “The worst was day nine because it was a long stage, I got lost a lot, made mistakes, rode in dust a lot and it was tough.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin In the end the Dakar organizers quashed the penalty but only after the race had finished and after Sam had raced two stages with his “head in the clouds.” Emotionally, every sportsperson takes knocks physically and mentally. In offroad sport those knocks can come with a turn of the wheel but at Dakar, the toughest race on the planet, those knocks can be with sledgehammers. Last word to Sam: “I race to win, I was in really good shape, did all the hard work and went to Dakar to do that job but we didn’t get to play the full hand of cards. In the end, after everything that happened, I’ll take that third place and live to fight another day.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Photos: Sebas Romero | Marcin Kin
  22. The highs and lows of the 2019 Dakar Rally – Sam Sunderland Posted in People, Racing Sam Sunderland talks openly about how tough the 2019 Dakar proved to be with extreme highs and lows arriving with each stage of the infamous rally. No offroad sport is more mentally taxing than the Dakar Rally. 10, maybe as much as 15 hours alone inside your helmet racing at high speeds across unknown deserts in tough riding conditions for day after day, all on top of four or five hours sleep a night. This is Dakar they say and for rally racers like Sam Sunderland and his Red Bull KTM Factory team-mates these are the realities of racing the toughest race on earth. Sam Sunderland (GBR) 2019 © Sebas Romero For Sunderland the 2019 Dakar Rally threw a wild mix of issues above and beyond the norm. Dealing with a badly injured fellow competitor, stage wins and mechanical issues including riding with no brakes, were all in the script. The biggest blow came when he was incorrectly docked an hour time penalty by race organizers – but that came later … The list of events “derailing” Sam’s plan for Dakar 2019 began in week one, stage five when he witnessed and helped deal with a crashed rider, Paulo Goncalves. “I saw him crash, directly called the helicopter and assisted him as I could with some water, getting his gear off and trying to make him as comfortable as I could even though he was in a lot of pain,” explains Sunderland. Pro racers are focused individuals naturally, but still humans and a fellow competitor’s well-being comes first. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin With the medics on the scene Sam was back on his bike again but both lost in terms of his pace and position in the race and unsettled: “I thought all of my work and the team’s work was going down the pan because I’d stopped to help another rider. I was a bit angry and really was just swinging off it trying to get by all these slower riders. I didn’t really have any reference to know where I was in terms of time.” The result was a stage win for Sam, a fact ordinarily you’d expect to be a positive for a rider? “The problem was nobody wanted to win that stage because everyone was petrified of opening the Tacna stage [following day] because they knew it was going to be hell!” says Sam. “I got to the finish and the media was there all going, ‘congratulations Sam, you won the stage’ and I was like, ‘Nooo!’ Outwardly I was having to be cool but riding back to the bivouac I was almost crying in my helmet thinking I’d just jacked up my whole race.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin The drama wasn’t over yet. “I actually opened Tacna really well and was super-pleased with my navigation.” But things took a turn quickly when he unknowingly hit a rock and broke his rear brake disc. “I looked down the whole disc was off the hub somehow. Every bolt had bust off and I still had 100-odd kilometers to go in the special. I continued but the caliper came off and started to hit me in the leg so I had to stop and pull it all off, cut the brake line and that’s where all the time went.” Riders must learn to deal with these set-backs (including riding 100s of kilometers in sand with no brake!) and must adopt a psychological reset button or an emotional mute button inside the head to lock away the problem and deal with what is in front and not behind. “The next day I won the stage because I had no choice. The only thing I could do was try and make up time by going all out to win. From that point onwards I could only deal with what I had,” explains Sam, perfectly illustrating the point. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin But Sunderland’s Dakar took yet another twist the following night after stage seven when organizers issued an hour time penalty. Sam explains exactly how events unfolded: “I went to go in the stage and they stopped me saying there is a problem with your iritrack, there was no power, I changed the fuse and I was ready to go. I could have left sooner but they re-seeded me to fourth place at the start line.” Innocent until proven guilty? Not in Dakar. Back at the bivouac race organization made the leap Sam had deliberately tampered with his bike in order to not be first on the stage. “I was fuming,” explains Sam. “I had big discussions with the organizers, the FIM, with my team manager and it was no budge. They were standing firm on it and I was out the rally effectively.” In the rider’s mind at this point all is lost. 12 months leading up to Dakar, all the issues already overcome during the 2019 rally were blown away with a blown fuse. Sam says he was so angry he was ready to throw in the towel but out of respect for his mechanic and the KTM rally team he continued onwards. “Having four or five hours sleep each night and riding for hours or whatever is tough but to have all this other stuff piled on is difficult,” explains Sam. The perhaps unseen effect of getting a penalty from the organizers is how you are then viewed by your peers: “When the organizer gives you the penalty it is like a stamp of confirmation that you did something wrong. It looks to everyone else like they found factual evidence – of course I knew I hadn’t but from everybody’s side it looked like I had.” “How did I deal with all that piled on top? Not very well to be honest, my head was in the clouds,” says Sunderland. “The worst was day nine because it was a long stage, I got lost a lot, made mistakes, rode in dust a lot and it was tough.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin In the end the Dakar organizers quashed the penalty but only after the race had finished and after Sam had raced two stages with his “head in the clouds.” Emotionally, every sportsperson takes knocks physically and mentally. In offroad sport those knocks can come with a turn of the wheel but at Dakar, the toughest race on the planet, those knocks can be with sledgehammers. Last word to Sam: “I race to win, I was in really good shape, did all the hard work and went to Dakar to do that job but we didn’t get to play the full hand of cards. In the end, after everything that happened, I’ll take that third place and live to fight another day.” Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 RALLY Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Photos: Sebas Romero | Marcin Kin
  23. Race hard, play hard, chill out hard – it’s rally style! Posted in Lifestyle, People We caught up with KTM´s Dakar 1-2-3 finishers and asked them about their after-Dakar life. Is it paradise? Feeling second-hand “This Dakar has been a tough one, the body is definitely feeling very second hand,” says current Cross-Country Rallies World Champion and the most epic winner in Dakar history. Toby Price did the impossible: He endured the insane pain which drove him crazy, and occasionally having to rev the bike with his left hand. There were moments, especially in the stages 3 and 7, when he already felt beaten; the win was far away on the other side of pain. After ten bloody battles, he won the war with inhuman will, and consistency. “I am so glad I didn’t give up,” said Price after crossing the finish line. On the rest day in Arequipa, the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Dakar winners of the bike category, who would later finish on 1-2-3 spots of the podium, were being interviewed by several media. There were a lot of laughs and banter, even though none of them believed they could win this year. Despite sitting in 2nd place of the general standings, Sam Sunderland had to open stage 6, and that meant a sure loss of time. Matthias Walkner was 7th overall, Toby Price 4th, and all three were carrying injuries. It indeed has been a very tough one, and that’s why we did a special debrief, asking them how they would unwind afterwards. Matthias Walkner (AUT), Sam Sunderland (GBR) & Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Toby Price He broke a bone during his first slightly more daring motorcycle race, rolled his car in his first 4-wheel race, and, maybe it’s a good thing he is not flying planes. The latest price he paid was a broken scaphoid, a souvenir from the final test last December. The injury was far from healed when on January 1 he boarded a plane to Lima. Like a casino gambler who beat the dealer, he grabbed the jackpot. We were sitting in a hotel in Lima after the Dakar celebrations, when he said: “Back home, I am going straight to the hospital first, that’s pretty much my second home.” His doctor would later tell him the bone was about to collapse, and another screw was needed. “There is a question mark hanging over the trip I have already organized. I should go to Vietnam with my family and friends, but unfortunately this is a motorbike tour we are talking about. In the land of old Chinese bikes I would ride a KTM 690 ENDURO R, and I am so excited about that. If everything goes well with my wrist, I will soon check off my bucket list the second biggest cave in the world, and a golden bridge held by big rocky hands. Though the best of all is that I am gonna have a KTM motorcycle, hoping to get some pretty amazing footage and some cool stuff for my vlogs. From there, I don’t know exactly, but for sure I will book a holiday also on my own, some nice place with white sand and crystal water, where I can drink from a coconut and let my body recover,” he explained his plans. And how Toby Price zones out in his free time? “I just love being around friends, and family. I’ve got a KTM 690 DUKE for my adventures back home. It’s an amazing bike, I am pumped to have it and to explore on it. I love mountain biking and getting to know new faces. Some days I love being in the city, having everything at my fingertips, while there are other days I just want to get off the grid and just find a hidden spot to light a camp fire. At the end of the day, I am no different to anybody else. Motorcycles are my life, but they are not everything; I like doing fun things in life. I love being at the beach, to spend time with my friends and wakeboarders, Harley Clifford and Cory Teuniseen. Sounds like a privilege, but I am telling you I am very terrible at this damn thing. I can only control handlebars and steering wheels.” Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Matthias Walkner Hurting his ankle in the 5th stage didn’t slow down the 2018 Dakar winner. Shining on the toughest stages where riding and navigational skills were fundamental, Matthias Walkner finished the 41st Dakar edition as runner-up. Even though he didn’t win, he is convinced he rode his best Dakar so far. “Now I deserve to party a bit, because I worked really hard for this Dakar. It’s not easy to start with number one, it sure adds extra pressure,” he admits. But since there are some medical issues on his to do list, party time will be short and sweet. “In my first two weeks back I’ve got some press stuff to attend to around Austria, and to cheer on my friend Marcel Hirscher.” At the end of January Matthias went to one of the most famous downhill ski races in Kitzbühel, before visiting the night race in Schladming. “This is what helps me relax, watch a good ski race and hanging out with friends.” At the time of writing, Matthias already successfully underwent knee surgery, and is waiting to have the pin taken out of his femur. “It’s going to be three or four months of recovery, and then, in the summer, I hopefully will be ready to race again, at least on two wheels,” the car enthusiast explained. The last Dakar came with a special prize, a brand new KTM X-BOW, and now it’s the time to take it onto the racetrack. Matthias Walkner (AUT) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Sam Sunderland This year’s Dakar was a bit of a rollercoaster for the 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland. Only on the last stage he was granted the removal of the one-hour penalty issued for missing the start of stage 8 and was promoted to third place. “This Dakar was really, really tough on every level: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I had so many ups and downs, that I feel completely drained. Drained, but happy, we could say, because obviously this is a big achievement for KTM. On day 8 it still didn’t look like it would happen, we fought till the last meter. The top ten riders were really strong, and it wasn’t clear which one would dominate. It was more about who would make the least mistakes. Saying that, I feel really tired and just want to relax. I want to go home, and finally see my dog. He’s with some friends now, but I know, he misses me likewise. Everybody loves Oli,” he smiles and adds: “Wouldn’t hurt to spend some time with my girlfriend too, to go for some nice food and just be together.” Otherwise Sam confesses he has a bit of a bad habit. “I play too much PlayStation, with teenagers over the world. I know it’s not very healthy, but it’s my way of relaxing. Of course, nothing compares to walking Oli in the beautiful Andorran mountains. I am happy to have moved here to live, the nature here is truly amazing. Besides that, Andorra it’s close to Spain, if you want some extra sunshine,” says a citizen of the world, while he prepares his ticket to Paris. Sam Sunderland (GBR) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin
  24. Race hard, play hard, chill out hard – it’s rally style! Posted in Lifestyle, People We caught up with KTM´s Dakar 1-2-3 finishers and asked them about their after-Dakar life. Is it paradise? Feeling second-hand “This Dakar has been a tough one, the body is definitely feeling very second hand,” says current Cross-Country Rallies World Champion and the most epic winner in Dakar history. Toby Price did the impossible: He endured the insane pain which drove him crazy, and occasionally having to rev the bike with his left hand. There were moments, especially in the stages 3 and 7, when he already felt beaten; the win was far away on the other side of pain. After ten bloody battles, he won the war with inhuman will, and consistency. “I am so glad I didn’t give up,” said Price after crossing the finish line. On the rest day in Arequipa, the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Dakar winners of the bike category, who would later finish on 1-2-3 spots of the podium, were being interviewed by several media. There were a lot of laughs and banter, even though none of them believed they could win this year. Despite sitting in 2nd place of the general standings, Sam Sunderland had to open stage 6, and that meant a sure loss of time. Matthias Walkner was 7th overall, Toby Price 4th, and all three were carrying injuries. It indeed has been a very tough one, and that’s why we did a special debrief, asking them how they would unwind afterwards. Matthias Walkner (AUT), Sam Sunderland (GBR) & Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Toby Price He broke a bone during his first slightly more daring motorcycle race, rolled his car in his first 4-wheel race, and, maybe it’s a good thing he is not flying planes. The latest price he paid was a broken scaphoid, a souvenir from the final test last December. The injury was far from healed when on January 1 he boarded a plane to Lima. Like a casino gambler who beat the dealer, he grabbed the jackpot. We were sitting in a hotel in Lima after the Dakar celebrations, when he said: “Back home, I am going straight to the hospital first, that’s pretty much my second home.” His doctor would later tell him the bone was about to collapse, and another screw was needed. “There is a question mark hanging over the trip I have already organized. I should go to Vietnam with my family and friends, but unfortunately this is a motorbike tour we are talking about. In the land of old Chinese bikes I would ride a KTM 690 ENDURO R, and I am so excited about that. If everything goes well with my wrist, I will soon check off my bucket list the second biggest cave in the world, and a golden bridge held by big rocky hands. Though the best of all is that I am gonna have a KTM motorcycle, hoping to get some pretty amazing footage and some cool stuff for my vlogs. From there, I don’t know exactly, but for sure I will book a holiday also on my own, some nice place with white sand and crystal water, where I can drink from a coconut and let my body recover,” he explained his plans. And how Toby Price zones out in his free time? “I just love being around friends, and family. I’ve got a KTM 690 DUKE for my adventures back home. It’s an amazing bike, I am pumped to have it and to explore on it. I love mountain biking and getting to know new faces. Some days I love being in the city, having everything at my fingertips, while there are other days I just want to get off the grid and just find a hidden spot to light a camp fire. At the end of the day, I am no different to anybody else. Motorcycles are my life, but they are not everything; I like doing fun things in life. I love being at the beach, to spend time with my friends and wakeboarders, Harley Clifford and Cory Teuniseen. Sounds like a privilege, but I am telling you I am very terrible at this damn thing. I can only control handlebars and steering wheels.” Toby Price (AUS) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Matthias Walkner Hurting his ankle in the 5th stage didn’t slow down the 2018 Dakar winner. Shining on the toughest stages where riding and navigational skills were fundamental, Matthias Walkner finished the 41st Dakar edition as runner-up. Even though he didn’t win, he is convinced he rode his best Dakar so far. “Now I deserve to party a bit, because I worked really hard for this Dakar. It’s not easy to start with number one, it sure adds extra pressure,” he admits. But since there are some medical issues on his to do list, party time will be short and sweet. “In my first two weeks back I’ve got some press stuff to attend to around Austria, and to cheer on my friend Marcel Hirscher.” At the end of January Matthias went to one of the most famous downhill ski races in Kitzbühel, before visiting the night race in Schladming. “This is what helps me relax, watch a good ski race and hanging out with friends.” At the time of writing, Matthias already successfully underwent knee surgery, and is waiting to have the pin taken out of his femur. “It’s going to be three or four months of recovery, and then, in the summer, I hopefully will be ready to race again, at least on two wheels,” the car enthusiast explained. The last Dakar came with a special prize, a brand new KTM X-BOW, and now it’s the time to take it onto the racetrack. Matthias Walkner (AUT) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Sam Sunderland This year’s Dakar was a bit of a rollercoaster for the 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland. Only on the last stage he was granted the removal of the one-hour penalty issued for missing the start of stage 8 and was promoted to third place. “This Dakar was really, really tough on every level: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I had so many ups and downs, that I feel completely drained. Drained, but happy, we could say, because obviously this is a big achievement for KTM. On day 8 it still didn’t look like it would happen, we fought till the last meter. The top ten riders were really strong, and it wasn’t clear which one would dominate. It was more about who would make the least mistakes. Saying that, I feel really tired and just want to relax. I want to go home, and finally see my dog. He’s with some friends now, but I know, he misses me likewise. Everybody loves Oli,” he smiles and adds: “Wouldn’t hurt to spend some time with my girlfriend too, to go for some nice food and just be together.” Otherwise Sam confesses he has a bit of a bad habit. “I play too much PlayStation, with teenagers over the world. I know it’s not very healthy, but it’s my way of relaxing. Of course, nothing compares to walking Oli in the beautiful Andorran mountains. I am happy to have moved here to live, the nature here is truly amazing. Besides that, Andorra it’s close to Spain, if you want some extra sunshine,” says a citizen of the world, while he prepares his ticket to Paris. Sam Sunderland (GBR) Dakar 2019 © Marcin Kin Photos: Marcin Kin
  25. Street or Dirt? The new KTM 690 SMC R & KTM 690 ENDURO R Posted in Bikes, Riding The all-new KTM 690 SMC R and KTM 690 ENDURO R are now available at KTM dealers, with the hardest choice being which of these cutting-edge single-cylinder machines to take and where to point it at. KTM 690 SMC R & KTM 690 ENDURO R MY2019 © Sebas Romero Naughty has never been so nice with the new KTM 690 SMC R. A bike for those who crave corner kicks on road or track and an addictive torque-filled punch with every turn of the throttle. The return of the KTM 690 ENDURO R in 2019 offers riders a true long-distance Enduro machine, always ready to connect the tarmac with trails with its flexibility to perform excitably on and offroad. Similar in many aspects but completely different in their execution, both models take full advantage of an intensive development program that has seen front to back changes. The latest generation LC4 single-cylinder engine is housed in a lightweight, dynamic frame dripping with top specification chassis components and the very latest electronic rider aids to give an exceptional riding experience. Sharper and more refined, the focus of these upgrades was to improve on what already made these machines the benchmark in their respective class – without diluting excitement and focus with the addition of technology and increased usability. Both bikes are armed with the most powerful production single-cylinder available – smoother and more sophisticated than ever. Efficient engineering excellence, the latest compact LC4 is a totally modern interpretation of a big single-cylinder engine. Two balancer shafts aligned to a dual-spark cylinder head and ride by wire technology leave only good vibrations. The 690cc engine now punches a devastating 74 hp and 73.5 Nm of torque; smoother than ever with an incredibly wide delivery of performance and now boasts a Quickshifter+ for further refinement. Electronic rider aids now feature heavily on both bikes, with the addition of ride mode technology and lean angle sensitive ABS and traction control systems to get the most from these potent packages in all situations. KTM 690 ENDURO R MY2019 © KTM/F. Lackner KTM 690 SMC R All fun and no frown; the unique riding appeal of a Supermoto is something KTM has wildly celebrated over the years and punching back into the range in 2019 on opposite lock is the KTM 690 SMC R. Pure, extreme and high performance – this is a very focused motorcycle that embodies the READY TO RACE approach and takes advantage of refined and unrivaled LC4 drive with advanced electronics in a truly unique package. The sharpened bodywork is not just for the look; improved ergonomics improve feel and control be- tween rider and machine to get the most from this Supermoto superhero. All-new, fully-adjustable APEX suspension from the experts at WP also helps deliver a charismatic machine capable of conquering the tightest curves and cutting through congested commutes. Getting the most from the KTM 690 SMC R’s performance in all situations is a suite of rider assistance systems. Two ride modes – Street and Sport – cornering ABS, lean angle-sensitive motorcycle traction control and Quickshifter+ are new to the game, with the familiar Supermoto ABS mode aiding rear slides with front-end confidence. [embedded content] KTM 690 ENDURO R Making the impassable possible, the KTM 690 ENDURO R unites tarmac and trails like never before. Simplified: KTM engineers and KISKA designers have made all the best parts better. The latest KTM LC4 single-cylinder silliness has two balancer shafts for reduced vibrations, ride by wire to allow changeable ride modes and traction control. More than enough power to pull clear of the steepest climbs yet efficient and manageable for trails and daily use. Sharper and slimmer, the new bodywork with a redesigned seat, enhances aesthetics and improves ergonomics. Underneath, a lightweight and agile chassis coupled with fully-adjustable WP XPLOR suspension provides a competent package for experienced riders yet confidence-inspiring for those new to dirt. Better still, the KTM 690 ENDURO R remains sure-footed for street riding – increasing its versatility as a trust-worthy daily ride. The new electronic systems on the KTM 690 ENDURO R get the most from this dynamic machine in all situations. Two ride modes – Offroad and Street – produce different characteristics of the throttle response and motorcycle traction control (MTC), while cornering sensitivity for the ABS and traction control also make its debut on this bike. KTM 690 ENDURO R MY2019 © KTM/F. Lackner Both bikes are available from official KTM dealers now, backed up with a wide range of official KTM PowerParts to intensify them further. And for A2 license riders, these machines can also be made 35kW compliant with no hardware changes. Photos: Sebas Romero | KTM/F. Lackner Video: KTM/KISKA
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