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  1. Feeling like a factory rider … for one day No doubt the factory riders of KTM were not very happy when they found out their ‘babies’ were being turned over to a bunch of journalists for a day. But a chance to try out the powerful machines of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing on the famous Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard is a unique opportunity that no journalist wants to miss. Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Sometimes the right words just aren’t finding their way onto ‘paper’, your computer really needs an upgrade, and an interview you had planned weeks ago gets canceled at the last minute. Contrary to popular belief, the life of a motorcycle journalist is not always glitz and glamor. Luckily, just one simple email can make all that ‘misery’ disappear in a flash. Your whole week, or perhaps even the whole month, suddenly becomes sunny and bright again when you read the words ‘KTM’, ‘you are invited’ and ‘factory bike test’. Fifteen journalists were lucky enough to find this email, sent by the KTM Press/PR Department in Mattighofen, waiting for them in their inbox this summer. All they had to do was travel by plane or car to the south of the Netherlands in the middle of September. Five factory dirtbikes would be waiting for them there, which they could take for a spin around the legendary motocross circuit of Valkenswaard. A unique opportunity to experience first-hand what it feels like to be a factory rider like Jeffrey Herlings, Tony Cairoli, Glenn Coldenhoff, Pauls Jonass, and Jorge Prado. Busy process “The preparation for this media test day started around three months ago”, explains Beatrix Eichhorn. She works as Event Manager at KTM and responsible for the entire organization of this factory bike test ride. Her main job was to make sure the three days went smoothly for everyone who took part in the event. But she didn’t do it alone: Eichhorn had the capable assistance of two colleagues from the Press/PR department of the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer. “They arranged everything that involved the press materials and the race department. Making sure the factory bikes were there for the test, for example, and working out which team members were going to take part. They took care of all that. Not an easy task by any means, because our motocross teams have a very busy Grand Prix schedule. But once we managed to find a date that suited everyone, then we started inviting the journalists and working out the program for the test.” That was a tricky job as well, because with this type of media event a lot of things have to be organized behind the scenes. Even if you’ve only got a relatively small group of 15 journalists. “First you have to get the go-ahead to use the circuit, in this case the GP Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard, and then you have to arrange hotel accommodation for all the journalists and the support staff. And naturally you also have to arrange food as well, and find suitable restaurants. Plus, you have to organize transfers, journalist gifts and branding material.” Even after all these practical details have been sorted out, the team still had another challenge to overcome. They had to plan the start times for all the test runs and make sure everything was caught on camera. During the media event in Valkenswaard, for example, there were two photographers and two cameramen on hand to make sure the journalists got all the pictures and video they needed. “Putting together a timetable for the test runs can be a complicated process, because you have to make sure every journalist gets to ride every factory bike for at least 20 minutes and you have to consider their travel data.” Luckily KTM have had plenty of experience with this type of event. They do more than just organize one event a year. “We have to launch new (production) models, both offroad and street, and organize meetings and conferences throughout the entire year. So, this type of event is nothing new for us.” Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Surprise guests When the journalists arrived at the hotel, they were welcomed with a refreshing cocktail and then treated to a gourmet dinner in the evening, joined by several surprise guests. Four of the five factory riders (Cairoli, Coldenhoff, Jonass, and Prado), who had generously agreed to ‘lend’ their bikes for this event, sat down with the journalists and answered all their questions in great detail. The only KTM rider not in attendance was Jeffrey Herlings; the young Dutchman had just been crowned the MXGP world champion the weekend before. However, the journalists were glad to learn that he would be joining them the next day at the Eurocircuit while the other riders got back to their training routine. Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test 2018 © Ray Archer It was an early morning start for the test ride day, with a presentation hosted by Jennifer Dick, KTM’s Offroad PR Manager. After going through all the technical details of the bikes and the test ride program, she made a surprise announcement. In honor of Herlings world title, KTM had decided to launch a special limited edition of his KTM 450 SX-F. The journalists got a few moments to take a close look at the gleaming replica, and then it was time for them to suit up and get out on the track. The excitement was palpable and plenty of nervous glances were exchanged as the mechanics casually fired up the factory bikes. The motocross circuit had been sprayed to moisten the track, but the bikes soon blew up a huge cloud of dust over Valkenswaard. Not that it bothered Krzysztof Tomaszek, because he had been waiting for this moment all his life. He couldn’t wait to get on the five different factory bikes and share this unique experience with all his readers at scigacz.pl. By the end of the day, he was exhausted, but very satisfied. Going flat out for 20 minutes on five different factory bikes had made an enormous impression on the Polish journalist. “It was a fantastic day that I will never forget. I had never been on a factory bike before, and I have to admit I was pretty nervous beforehand. I’ve had plenty of experience with the production motocross bikes of KTM, but this was a completely different level.” Tomaszek was particularly surprised by the machine of world champion Herlings. “That was definitely the most difficult bike to ride”, he admitted honestly. “Very aggressive and you could tell it was a motocross bike that had been set up for maximum speed. Herlings’ KTM just wants to keep on attacking.” Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Then it was time for Jeffrey Herlings to take his bike out onto the track and show them how it’s really done. Instead of a few steady exhibition laps, Jeffrey Herlings thundered around the circuit at the outrageous pace that has made him the seemingly unbeatable champion he is. So, no throttling back only two days after winning his first MXGP World Championship title. His dominance at Valkenswaard has been impressive, with an amazing seven Grand Prix victories in a row on this track. “The MX2 motocross bike of KTM has a very strong engine setup, and that really makes a difference in the heavy sand of Valkenswaard. That’s when you need to use all the horsepower you can get”, explains Herlings. “In the 450 class, the competition is a lot closer together when it comes to pure power. That’s where the total package of KTM makes it stand out from the rest. We’ve got a great bike, a strong team, and of course the best riders.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions The highest level One journalist who has been in the saddle of a factory bike before is Paul Malin. The former GP motocrosser from Great Britain switched to a career in the media, including MotoX Magazine, after retiring from racing, and he now mainly works as a commentator for the MXGP races. “I’ve just been on the bikes of Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado, and you can definitely feel the difference. They have exactly the same engine setup, but they don’t handle the same. It’s to do with the rear gear wheel, because Jorge uses one tooth less. This gives his dirtbike more punch, a slightly sharper response in third gear”, explains the winner of the MX of Nations in 1994 in more detail. Although Malin has definitely been there and done it, he still always considers it a privilege to be able to ride these types of bikes. “You won’t find better motocross bikes than these, this is the highest level. And each one has its own distinctive feel. Although the bikes are fundamentally the same, they handle completely differently. That’s because each rider has a setup to suit their personal style. It’s about combining all the little details in the right way to produce the right package.” Another veteran in the world of offroad journalism is Toine van Dijk, who has tried out numerous factory bikes over the years. “But it’s still a very special feeling every time”, according to the test ride editor of the Dutch Noppennieuws. “I’ve been doing this work now for 23 years, but I still get a thrill every time I ride these types of machines. And this year is particularly special for me as a Dutchman, with Jeffrey winning the world championship. I missed out on a chance to test Herlings’ MXGP motocross bike last year, so I was even more excited about getting to see his machine this year.” Van Dijk was also surprised by the noticeable differences between the factory bikes of KTM. Each of the three MXGP motocross bikes he took out on the circuit had a completely different feel. “The setup of Cairoli is of course adjusted to his size, like the lower back side. So, somebody of my size [Van Dijk is a good 1.94 m] is better suited to Herlings’ bike, because he’s tall as well. These personal preferences of the riders are what make each bike feel so different.” Paul Malin (GBR) KTM 250 SX-F Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Unique opportunity With his many years of experience in the offroad world, Van Dijk is able to spot the improvements from one year to the next. “You really notice that with the production bikes. It always amazes me, how the engineers are able to achieve progression time and time again. You would think, after a while, that it would simply not be possible to make it any better. And yet they still manage to come up with a new model that takes your breath away. I think that is where KTM really shines. They get input from so many different perspectives, including the factory riders. So, they are able to just keep on getting better and better.” After a long day on the Eurocircuit, it’s time to go back to the hotel and take a long shower to get rid of all the sand. Refreshed and redressed, the journalists enjoy an evening looking back over the day’s events. During the farewell dinner, there is a lively exchange of stories all around the table. The permanent smile on the suntanned face of Christoph Bertrand shows he also enjoyed getting on the KTM factory bikes today. And naturally, just like all the other journalists, he had his own favorite dirtbike. “It was the last bike I rode today, Jorge Prado’s bike. For me, that was the only machine that was reasonably suitable for an amateur rider. The suspension was a bit softer and I felt more comfortable with that. I could have a lot of fun on that bike”, admits the former GP rider and writer for mxmag.be. “If you put Herlings’ bike in my garage, then I would probably just leave it there. It’s such a beast, you’d have to be a rodeo rider to control that dirtbike. If you’re not in top physical condition, then don’t even think about getting on it. That’s what makes it so great to be given a unique opportunity to ride the factory bikes of a factory team. Just a few minutes hanging on to the handlebars of these GP bikes is totally exhausting. Never mind for half an hour at full throttle. Any respect you had for these boys before only gets bigger once you’ve had a chance to ride their bikes. That’s when you realize how good you have to be to make these dirtbikes go that fast.” Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Photos: Ray Archer | Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
  2. Feeling like a factory rider … for one day

    Feeling like a factory rider … for one day No doubt the factory riders of KTM were not very happy when they found out their ‘babies’ were being turned over to a bunch of journalists for a day. But a chance to try out the powerful machines of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing on the famous Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard is a unique opportunity that no journalist wants to miss. Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Sometimes the right words just aren’t finding their way onto ‘paper’, your computer really needs an upgrade, and an interview you had planned weeks ago gets canceled at the last minute. Contrary to popular belief, the life of a motorcycle journalist is not always glitz and glamor. Luckily, just one simple email can make all that ‘misery’ disappear in a flash. Your whole week, or perhaps even the whole month, suddenly becomes sunny and bright again when you read the words ‘KTM’, ‘you are invited’ and ‘factory bike test’. Fifteen journalists were lucky enough to find this email, sent by the KTM Press/PR Department in Mattighofen, waiting for them in their inbox this summer. All they had to do was travel by plane or car to the south of the Netherlands in the middle of September. Five factory dirtbikes would be waiting for them there, which they could take for a spin around the legendary motocross circuit of Valkenswaard. A unique opportunity to experience first-hand what it feels like to be a factory rider like Jeffrey Herlings, Tony Cairoli, Glenn Coldenhoff, Pauls Jonass, and Jorge Prado. Busy process “The preparation for this media test day started around three months ago”, explains Beatrix Eichhorn. She works as Event Manager at KTM and responsible for the entire organization of this factory bike test ride. Her main job was to make sure the three days went smoothly for everyone who took part in the event. But she didn’t do it alone: Eichhorn had the capable assistance of two colleagues from the Press/PR department of the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer. “They arranged everything that involved the press materials and the race department. Making sure the factory bikes were there for the test, for example, and working out which team members were going to take part. They took care of all that. Not an easy task by any means, because our motocross teams have a very busy Grand Prix schedule. But once we managed to find a date that suited everyone, then we started inviting the journalists and working out the program for the test.” That was a tricky job as well, because with this type of media event a lot of things have to be organized behind the scenes. Even if you’ve only got a relatively small group of 15 journalists. “First you have to get the go-ahead to use the circuit, in this case the GP Eurocircuit in Valkenswaard, and then you have to arrange hotel accommodation for all the journalists and the support staff. And naturally you also have to arrange food as well, and find suitable restaurants. Plus, you have to organize transfers, journalist gifts and branding material.” Even after all these practical details have been sorted out, the team still had another challenge to overcome. They had to plan the start times for all the test runs and make sure everything was caught on camera. During the media event in Valkenswaard, for example, there were two photographers and two cameramen on hand to make sure the journalists got all the pictures and video they needed. “Putting together a timetable for the test runs can be a complicated process, because you have to make sure every journalist gets to ride every factory bike for at least 20 minutes and you have to consider their travel data.” Luckily KTM have had plenty of experience with this type of event. They do more than just organize one event a year. “We have to launch new (production) models, both offroad and street, and organize meetings and conferences throughout the entire year. So, this type of event is nothing new for us.” Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Surprise guests When the journalists arrived at the hotel, they were welcomed with a refreshing cocktail and then treated to a gourmet dinner in the evening, joined by several surprise guests. Four of the five factory riders (Cairoli, Coldenhoff, Jonass, and Prado), who had generously agreed to ‘lend’ their bikes for this event, sat down with the journalists and answered all their questions in great detail. The only KTM rider not in attendance was Jeffrey Herlings; the young Dutchman had just been crowned the MXGP world champion the weekend before. However, the journalists were glad to learn that he would be joining them the next day at the Eurocircuit while the other riders got back to their training routine. Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test 2018 © Ray Archer It was an early morning start for the test ride day, with a presentation hosted by Jennifer Dick, KTM’s Offroad PR Manager. After going through all the technical details of the bikes and the test ride program, she made a surprise announcement. In honor of Herlings world title, KTM had decided to launch a special limited edition of his KTM 450 SX-F. The journalists got a few moments to take a close look at the gleaming replica, and then it was time for them to suit up and get out on the track. The excitement was palpable and plenty of nervous glances were exchanged as the mechanics casually fired up the factory bikes. The motocross circuit had been sprayed to moisten the track, but the bikes soon blew up a huge cloud of dust over Valkenswaard. Not that it bothered Krzysztof Tomaszek, because he had been waiting for this moment all his life. He couldn’t wait to get on the five different factory bikes and share this unique experience with all his readers at scigacz.pl. By the end of the day, he was exhausted, but very satisfied. Going flat out for 20 minutes on five different factory bikes had made an enormous impression on the Polish journalist. “It was a fantastic day that I will never forget. I had never been on a factory bike before, and I have to admit I was pretty nervous beforehand. I’ve had plenty of experience with the production motocross bikes of KTM, but this was a completely different level.” Tomaszek was particularly surprised by the machine of world champion Herlings. “That was definitely the most difficult bike to ride”, he admitted honestly. “Very aggressive and you could tell it was a motocross bike that had been set up for maximum speed. Herlings’ KTM just wants to keep on attacking.” Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Then it was time for Jeffrey Herlings to take his bike out onto the track and show them how it’s really done. Instead of a few steady exhibition laps, Jeffrey Herlings thundered around the circuit at the outrageous pace that has made him the seemingly unbeatable champion he is. So, no throttling back only two days after winning his first MXGP World Championship title. His dominance at Valkenswaard has been impressive, with an amazing seven Grand Prix victories in a row on this track. “The MX2 motocross bike of KTM has a very strong engine setup, and that really makes a difference in the heavy sand of Valkenswaard. That’s when you need to use all the horsepower you can get”, explains Herlings. “In the 450 class, the competition is a lot closer together when it comes to pure power. That’s where the total package of KTM makes it stand out from the rest. We’ve got a great bike, a strong team, and of course the best riders.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions The highest level One journalist who has been in the saddle of a factory bike before is Paul Malin. The former GP motocrosser from Great Britain switched to a career in the media, including MotoX Magazine, after retiring from racing, and he now mainly works as a commentator for the MXGP races. “I’ve just been on the bikes of Pauls Jonass and Jorge Prado, and you can definitely feel the difference. They have exactly the same engine setup, but they don’t handle the same. It’s to do with the rear gear wheel, because Jorge uses one tooth less. This gives his dirtbike more punch, a slightly sharper response in third gear”, explains the winner of the MX of Nations in 1994 in more detail. Although Malin has definitely been there and done it, he still always considers it a privilege to be able to ride these types of bikes. “You won’t find better motocross bikes than these, this is the highest level. And each one has its own distinctive feel. Although the bikes are fundamentally the same, they handle completely differently. That’s because each rider has a setup to suit their personal style. It’s about combining all the little details in the right way to produce the right package.” Another veteran in the world of offroad journalism is Toine van Dijk, who has tried out numerous factory bikes over the years. “But it’s still a very special feeling every time”, according to the test ride editor of the Dutch Noppennieuws. “I’ve been doing this work now for 23 years, but I still get a thrill every time I ride these types of machines. And this year is particularly special for me as a Dutchman, with Jeffrey winning the world championship. I missed out on a chance to test Herlings’ MXGP motocross bike last year, so I was even more excited about getting to see his machine this year.” Van Dijk was also surprised by the noticeable differences between the factory bikes of KTM. Each of the three MXGP motocross bikes he took out on the circuit had a completely different feel. “The setup of Cairoli is of course adjusted to his size, like the lower back side. So, somebody of my size [Van Dijk is a good 1.94 m] is better suited to Herlings’ bike, because he’s tall as well. These personal preferences of the riders are what make each bike feel so different.” Paul Malin (GBR) KTM 250 SX-F Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Unique opportunity With his many years of experience in the offroad world, Van Dijk is able to spot the improvements from one year to the next. “You really notice that with the production bikes. It always amazes me, how the engineers are able to achieve progression time and time again. You would think, after a while, that it would simply not be possible to make it any better. And yet they still manage to come up with a new model that takes your breath away. I think that is where KTM really shines. They get input from so many different perspectives, including the factory riders. So, they are able to just keep on getting better and better.” After a long day on the Eurocircuit, it’s time to go back to the hotel and take a long shower to get rid of all the sand. Refreshed and redressed, the journalists enjoy an evening looking back over the day’s events. During the farewell dinner, there is a lively exchange of stories all around the table. The permanent smile on the suntanned face of Christoph Bertrand shows he also enjoyed getting on the KTM factory bikes today. And naturally, just like all the other journalists, he had his own favorite dirtbike. “It was the last bike I rode today, Jorge Prado’s bike. For me, that was the only machine that was reasonably suitable for an amateur rider. The suspension was a bit softer and I felt more comfortable with that. I could have a lot of fun on that bike”, admits the former GP rider and writer for mxmag.be. “If you put Herlings’ bike in my garage, then I would probably just leave it there. It’s such a beast, you’d have to be a rodeo rider to control that dirtbike. If you’re not in top physical condition, then don’t even think about getting on it. That’s what makes it so great to be given a unique opportunity to ride the factory bikes of a factory team. Just a few minutes hanging on to the handlebars of these GP bikes is totally exhausting. Never mind for half an hour at full throttle. Any respect you had for these boys before only gets bigger once you’ve had a chance to ride their bikes. That’s when you realize how good you have to be to make these dirtbikes go that fast.” Red Bull KTM SX Factory Bike Test Valkenswaard (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Photos: Ray Archer | Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions
  3. Building the next era: Ajo talks Moto2 steps MotoGPTM faces a significant change for 2019 when the Moto2 class gets a brand-new engine supplier. The technical swap around means some busy times for Aki Ajo and an important part of his ‘development’ program for KTM’s racing structure. We asked him about it … Aki Ajo (FIN) Aragón (ESP) 2018 © Sebas Romero The sound and sight of Moto2 will become something new for 2019. MotoGPTM shape-shifts with Honda being replaced by Triumph and their triple cylinder as the sole engine supplier to the intermediate class; where Red Bull KTM Ajo are currently the only team to have both of their riders on the top step of the podium in 2018. MotoGPTM will also buzz to the addition of the Moto-E series next year but it is the work, changes and evolution of Moto2 that is generating more fascination. Aki Ajo has long been part of the Grand Prix paddock to observe and embrace such changes. Since overseeing the first Moto3 title victory for KTM in 2012, Ajo not only witnessed the explosion of 4-stroke technology in the MotoGPTM divisions but has extended his influence to Moto2 and into Red Bull MotoGP Rookies and the CEV series. He is a key part of the ‘orange ladder’ that KTM have built in the last five years to provide a path through the ranks for promising racing talent. When the Finn is not talent-spotting or providing guidance – as he is doing with the feted Öncü twins presently – then he is chiseling Moto2. This has meant the careful blend of WP chassis performance to maximize grip and extend tire life and also bring any further counsel to the likes of Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira or Brad Binder for their Grand Prix education. Miguel Oliveira (POR, #44) & Brad Binder (RSA, #41) Chang International Circuit (THA) 2018 © Gold and Goose Ajo and his team have already been busy with 2019 tests. The new Moto2 engine has completed considerable mileage and durability runs and was officially ‘handed over’ to MotoGPTM at the Grand Prix of Aragon. At the same circuit – Motorland (where Binder took his current Moto2 machine to victory) – the squad again ran the new bike through its paces. “I think it has been nine years with the same engine in Moto2 and I think the change it will make people more enthusiastic,” Ajo says “and with anything new you have the chance to learn more compared to always using the same spec. We’ve been busy this summer already. The KTM test team has been working with the engine for some days and our riders will also be busy with this year’s bike and next year’s.” For WP and the KTM Group Racing division there are obvious new parameters when it comes to the engine’s dimensions and character within the steel-tubed frame, and how the whole package will alter and have an effect on the WP suspension package and Dunlop tires. Brad Binder´s (RSA) Moto2 bike Aragón (ESP) 2018 © Sebas Romero While Ajo is buoyed by the work ahead and the question marks that will arise he also doesn’t believe that Moto2 will be turned on its head. “A motorcycle is a motorcycle and I think many people are speculating now which riders will fit well with this new engine concept,” he opines. “I think if a rider is good, works well and has a good team then it doesn’t matter what motorcycle it is. I don’t think the engine is a big problem, it just makes the work more interesting.” “When we switched from 125s to Moto3 everyone said to me ‘it will all change …’ but for me not much did,” he reveals. “The only thing was losing that nice noise and smell of the 2-strokes but many other interesting things came with the new category and the 4-strokes. Maybe the riders needed to change their style a little bit but the basics stayed the same: racing is racing and you need to find the right ‘things’ and focus on them.” Miguel Oliveira (POR) Chang International Circuit (THA) 2018 © Gold and Goose Over the last couple of seasons Moto2 has arguably turned into MotoGPTM’s toughest competition. The stock engine and slight differences between the five main chassis manufacturers means the gap between a clutch of immensely fast and capable riders comes down to fractions of a second. Gains on a technical level are minuscule. “It will be interesting to see if it is still so close,” says Ajo who acknowledges that an important winter of laps and more ‘discovery’ of the Moto2 package lie ahead. “I think there is the chance to make a few more steps. Sometimes I feel that Moto2 is even too close. Riders and teams learn a lot through close competition but I also see some good riders a little bit in the shadows if all the things are not perfect. You can be 0.8 of second behind the top guy and way-down in 20th position but you might still be a really fast rider. It will be curious to see … but I don’t think it will be as close at the start of 2019; there could be some bigger steps between the teams.” On a more specific note, Ajo will lose current championship contender Oliveira to MotoGPTM (the first KTM athlete to move up through from Moto3 GP winning success to Moto2 acclaim and into the ‘big boys’) but will retain Binder for a third season. The South African – who lost most of his first term to a troublesome broken arm injury – will be joined by Moto3 series leader and flyer Jorge Martin. Ajo will keep some continuity with Binder and will also have to harness the potential of the lively Spaniard. “I think it’s key with a new bike that both of the riders are not rookies … but in any case it is also important that Brad has some experience and feedback with the engine already and in November those first tests for the whole team will be vital.” November and the quiet and vacant Spanish circuits beckon: time for Ajo’s experience to count and for his loyal crew to again move with the rolling sands of racing. Miguel Oliveira (POR, #44), Brad Binder (RSA, #41) & Moto2 team Assen (NED) 2018 © Philip Platzer Photos: Sebas Romero | Gold and Goose | Philip Platzer
  4. Building the next era: Ajo talks Moto2 steps

    Building the next era: Ajo talks Moto2 steps MotoGPTM faces a significant change for 2019 when the Moto2 class gets a brand-new engine supplier. The technical swap around means some busy times for Aki Ajo and an important part of his ‘development’ program for KTM’s racing structure. We asked him about it … Aki Ajo (FIN) Aragón (ESP) 2018 © Sebas Romero The sound and sight of Moto2 will become something new for 2019. MotoGPTM shape-shifts with Honda being replaced by Triumph and their triple cylinder as the sole engine supplier to the intermediate class; where Red Bull KTM Ajo are currently the only team to have both of their riders on the top step of the podium in 2018. MotoGPTM will also buzz to the addition of the Moto-E series next year but it is the work, changes and evolution of Moto2 that is generating more fascination. Aki Ajo has long been part of the Grand Prix paddock to observe and embrace such changes. Since overseeing the first Moto3 title victory for KTM in 2012, Ajo not only witnessed the explosion of 4-stroke technology in the MotoGPTM divisions but has extended his influence to Moto2 and into Red Bull MotoGP Rookies and the CEV series. He is a key part of the ‘orange ladder’ that KTM have built in the last five years to provide a path through the ranks for promising racing talent. When the Finn is not talent-spotting or providing guidance – as he is doing with the feted Öncü twins presently – then he is chiseling Moto2. This has meant the careful blend of WP chassis performance to maximize grip and extend tire life and also bring any further counsel to the likes of Johann Zarco, Miguel Oliveira or Brad Binder for their Grand Prix education. Miguel Oliveira (POR, #44) & Brad Binder (RSA, #41) Chang International Circuit (THA) 2018 © Gold and Goose Ajo and his team have already been busy with 2019 tests. The new Moto2 engine has completed considerable mileage and durability runs and was officially ‘handed over’ to MotoGPTM at the Grand Prix of Aragon. At the same circuit – Motorland (where Binder took his current Moto2 machine to victory) – the squad again ran the new bike through its paces. “I think it has been nine years with the same engine in Moto2 and I think the change it will make people more enthusiastic,” Ajo says “and with anything new you have the chance to learn more compared to always using the same spec. We’ve been busy this summer already. The KTM test team has been working with the engine for some days and our riders will also be busy with this year’s bike and next year’s.” For WP and the KTM Group Racing division there are obvious new parameters when it comes to the engine’s dimensions and character within the steel-tubed frame, and how the whole package will alter and have an effect on the WP suspension package and Dunlop tires. Brad Binder´s (RSA) Moto2 bike Aragón (ESP) 2018 © Sebas Romero While Ajo is buoyed by the work ahead and the question marks that will arise he also doesn’t believe that Moto2 will be turned on its head. “A motorcycle is a motorcycle and I think many people are speculating now which riders will fit well with this new engine concept,” he opines. “I think if a rider is good, works well and has a good team then it doesn’t matter what motorcycle it is. I don’t think the engine is a big problem, it just makes the work more interesting.” “When we switched from 125s to Moto3 everyone said to me ‘it will all change …’ but for me not much did,” he reveals. “The only thing was losing that nice noise and smell of the 2-strokes but many other interesting things came with the new category and the 4-strokes. Maybe the riders needed to change their style a little bit but the basics stayed the same: racing is racing and you need to find the right ‘things’ and focus on them.” Miguel Oliveira (POR) Chang International Circuit (THA) 2018 © Gold and Goose Over the last couple of seasons Moto2 has arguably turned into MotoGPTM’s toughest competition. The stock engine and slight differences between the five main chassis manufacturers means the gap between a clutch of immensely fast and capable riders comes down to fractions of a second. Gains on a technical level are minuscule. “It will be interesting to see if it is still so close,” says Ajo who acknowledges that an important winter of laps and more ‘discovery’ of the Moto2 package lie ahead. “I think there is the chance to make a few more steps. Sometimes I feel that Moto2 is even too close. Riders and teams learn a lot through close competition but I also see some good riders a little bit in the shadows if all the things are not perfect. You can be 0.8 of second behind the top guy and way-down in 20th position but you might still be a really fast rider. It will be curious to see … but I don’t think it will be as close at the start of 2019; there could be some bigger steps between the teams.” On a more specific note, Ajo will lose current championship contender Oliveira to MotoGPTM (the first KTM athlete to move up through from Moto3 GP winning success to Moto2 acclaim and into the ‘big boys’) but will retain Binder for a third season. The South African – who lost most of his first term to a troublesome broken arm injury – will be joined by Moto3 series leader and flyer Jorge Martin. Ajo will keep some continuity with Binder and will also have to harness the potential of the lively Spaniard. “I think it’s key with a new bike that both of the riders are not rookies … but in any case it is also important that Brad has some experience and feedback with the engine already and in November those first tests for the whole team will be vital.” November and the quiet and vacant Spanish circuits beckon: time for Ajo’s experience to count and for his loyal crew to again move with the rolling sands of racing. Miguel Oliveira (POR, #44), Brad Binder (RSA, #41) & Moto2 team Assen (NED) 2018 © Philip Platzer Photos: Sebas Romero | Gold and Goose | Philip Platzer
  5. More tour and more roar: 2019 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT Posted in Bikes, Riding The covers are off KTM’s heavily updated sports touring titan and we spoke with Project Leader, Tobias Eisele, to find out what’s new. Tobias Eisele (AUT) KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KTM Following the launch of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R in 2014 it was quickly discovered that ‘The Beast’ also had a softer side; the amount of torque available made the engine flexible for a variety of riding situations and the ergonomics – despite the exposed bars – was actually quite comfortable for longer runs. Rumor has it that this got the KTM engineers thinking what a bit would some weather protection and a larger tank could do for this machine … Fact or fable and whatever the decision-making process it was a good one because when KTM entered the sports tourer market in 2016 with the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT it was in the typical READY TO RACE style – big on performance. This new model in the range saw a SUPER DUKE less track extreme and more grand tourer with the results as predicted; a true long distance machine with the ability to play in the curviest of corners. But history has shown us that KTM never closes the throttle of development and no sooner had the first-generation GT hit the showrooms the R&D engineers were busy working on a sequel. Fast forward three years and KTM BLOG was at INTERMOT in Germany to see the covers come off this new GT. At first glance, the changes seem only minor; new headlight, eye-catching graphics. But Project Leader for the bike, Tobias Eisele, was in Cologne for the international motorcycle fair and spent some time with KTM BLOG to assures us the changes are both significant and a major improvement. KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KTM Tobias, what’s new with the GT? “There are many things! Aside from the chassis and wheels, quite a lot has changed in this big update. We have a new engine – same as from the 2018 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R – with revised resonator chambers, titanium inlet valves and a new mapping to give 175 hp and 141 Nm of torque. There’s now the Quickshifter+, so clutchless up and down shifting. We have a 6.5 inch TFT dash with a unique display for the GT, new windshield and adjuster mechanism, LED headlight, the latest generation setting WP semi-active suspension, storage compartments within bodywork that includes one with a USB charger.” Is that all? “No! We also moved the cruise control to the left handlebar, added heated grips and handguards as standard, keyless ignition with KTM RACE ON, we are navigation ready with KTM MY RIDE and of course two new colors and graphics. There’s also a new optional ‘Track’ mode – including launch control, nine-level traction slip control, anti-wheelie. You can say we’ve been busy.” What were the main goals for the new bike? “The main goal was to put all the latest premium features that are already available on other products in the KTM range and add them to the GT. We also had to improve on any weaknesses, such as wind protection and the windshield adjustment as the latter didn’t feel as sophisticated as it should have been. So, trying to improve lots of little bits to make the GT a more complete and sophisticated bike. Not a small task.” How much did you listen to customer feedback? “When we started on this new version the original bike was only just out, so not much feedback from the outset. We knew our goals for this machine and then feedback soon filtered through. A criticism of the original Street suspension setup was the inclusion of anti-dive. The new suspension settings for Comfort, Street and Sport are massively changed, but with anti-dive now exclusive to Comfort. Other small things included the wish for the cruise control to be on the left bar, a longer pin on the side stand to make it easier to reach with the foot, a quickshifter for up and down and – of course – a TFT display.” KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KISKA/R. Schedl What were the biggest challenges? “Just putting the bridge to all those new features we talked about. The dash, for example, required a new software development; it was a big challenge. You have the supplier for the display, the designers, the engineers for the functions and you have to bring it all together. In another life I worked in aerodynamics for F1, so this area of the GT was something I was very interested in. But rather than performance, we worked hard in this department for comfort – such as weather protection and noise from the screen at speed. But as well as the rider comfort, we had to make sure it was a good design. As we didn’t want to make a compromise, there was a lot of back and forth between the engineers and designers but I’m happy with the result.” So how is the GT aerodynamically better? “Well, we have handguards to help keep cold wind and rain away from hands, but the way in which the new headlight and screen are working sees the bike feel just as comfortable to ride as the previous bike even when you are doing 20 km/h more.” What part of the bike are you the most proud of? “Besides aerodynamics and the semi-active suspension where we have made a really big improvement – especially between the modes – without changing the hardware, I would say that it was convincing my bosses to add the two storage compartments on the inside of the fairings. We’ve done this without having to add any big boxes and the way they work is really neat. When we completed our first prototype, I asked my manager to find where we had hidden a phone and he couldn’t manage it. Mission accomplished!” Backed up by a bigger array of official KTM PowerParts to further personalize this potent sports tourer, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT hits showrooms at the end of this year. KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KISKA/F. Lackner Photos: KTM | KISKA
  6. More tour and more roar: 2019 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT

    More tour and more roar: 2019 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT Posted in Bikes, Riding The covers are off KTM’s heavily updated sports touring titan and we spoke with Project Leader, Tobias Eisele, to find out what’s new. Tobias Eisele (AUT) KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KTM Following the launch of the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R in 2014 it was quickly discovered that ‘The Beast’ also had a softer side; the amount of torque available made the engine flexible for a variety of riding situations and the ergonomics – despite the exposed bars – was actually quite comfortable for longer runs. Rumor has it that this got the KTM engineers thinking what a bit would some weather protection and a larger tank could do for this machine … Fact or fable and whatever the decision-making process it was a good one because when KTM entered the sports tourer market in 2016 with the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT it was in the typical READY TO RACE style – big on performance. This new model in the range saw a SUPER DUKE less track extreme and more grand tourer with the results as predicted; a true long distance machine with the ability to play in the curviest of corners. But history has shown us that KTM never closes the throttle of development and no sooner had the first-generation GT hit the showrooms the R&D engineers were busy working on a sequel. Fast forward three years and KTM BLOG was at INTERMOT in Germany to see the covers come off this new GT. At first glance, the changes seem only minor; new headlight, eye-catching graphics. But Project Leader for the bike, Tobias Eisele, was in Cologne for the international motorcycle fair and spent some time with KTM BLOG to assures us the changes are both significant and a major improvement. KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KTM Tobias, what’s new with the GT? “There are many things! Aside from the chassis and wheels, quite a lot has changed in this big update. We have a new engine – same as from the 2018 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R – with revised resonator chambers, titanium inlet valves and a new mapping to give 175 hp and 141 Nm of torque. There’s now the Quickshifter+, so clutchless up and down shifting. We have a 6.5 inch TFT dash with a unique display for the GT, new windshield and adjuster mechanism, LED headlight, the latest generation setting WP semi-active suspension, storage compartments within bodywork that includes one with a USB charger.” Is that all? “No! We also moved the cruise control to the left handlebar, added heated grips and handguards as standard, keyless ignition with KTM RACE ON, we are navigation ready with KTM MY RIDE and of course two new colors and graphics. There’s also a new optional ‘Track’ mode – including launch control, nine-level traction slip control, anti-wheelie. You can say we’ve been busy.” What were the main goals for the new bike? “The main goal was to put all the latest premium features that are already available on other products in the KTM range and add them to the GT. We also had to improve on any weaknesses, such as wind protection and the windshield adjustment as the latter didn’t feel as sophisticated as it should have been. So, trying to improve lots of little bits to make the GT a more complete and sophisticated bike. Not a small task.” How much did you listen to customer feedback? “When we started on this new version the original bike was only just out, so not much feedback from the outset. We knew our goals for this machine and then feedback soon filtered through. A criticism of the original Street suspension setup was the inclusion of anti-dive. The new suspension settings for Comfort, Street and Sport are massively changed, but with anti-dive now exclusive to Comfort. Other small things included the wish for the cruise control to be on the left bar, a longer pin on the side stand to make it easier to reach with the foot, a quickshifter for up and down and – of course – a TFT display.” KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KISKA/R. Schedl What were the biggest challenges? “Just putting the bridge to all those new features we talked about. The dash, for example, required a new software development; it was a big challenge. You have the supplier for the display, the designers, the engineers for the functions and you have to bring it all together. In another life I worked in aerodynamics for F1, so this area of the GT was something I was very interested in. But rather than performance, we worked hard in this department for comfort – such as weather protection and noise from the screen at speed. But as well as the rider comfort, we had to make sure it was a good design. As we didn’t want to make a compromise, there was a lot of back and forth between the engineers and designers but I’m happy with the result.” So how is the GT aerodynamically better? “Well, we have handguards to help keep cold wind and rain away from hands, but the way in which the new headlight and screen are working sees the bike feel just as comfortable to ride as the previous bike even when you are doing 20 km/h more.” What part of the bike are you the most proud of? “Besides aerodynamics and the semi-active suspension where we have made a really big improvement – especially between the modes – without changing the hardware, I would say that it was convincing my bosses to add the two storage compartments on the inside of the fairings. We’ve done this without having to add any big boxes and the way they work is really neat. When we completed our first prototype, I asked my manager to find where we had hidden a phone and he couldn’t manage it. Mission accomplished!” Backed up by a bigger array of official KTM PowerParts to further personalize this potent sports tourer, the KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT hits showrooms at the end of this year. KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE GT MY2019 © KISKA/F. Lackner Photos: KTM | KISKA
  7. Toby Price World Champion in Morocco in pictures Posted in People, Racing The Rally du Maroc concluded the five-round FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price won the event to be crowned the 2018 champion. The five-round series has seen the best rally racers from around the world compete over some of the most difficult terrain in the UAE, South America and Africa, with the title fight going down to the wire at the Morocco race. The Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team has enjoyed some strong results with all of its riders, which is especially positive in preparation to defend the team’s 17 consecutive Dakar wins, and this year’s Dakar champion, Matthias Walkner, joined Price on the podium with third in the overall standings. Price’s long string of accolades, including his Dakar win in 2016, now adds the world championship thanks to his consistent riding throughout the season. The 31-year-old Australian ace battled back from a broken femur sustained in the 2017 edition of the Dakar to take a podium third this January, followed by his world title win this week. We take a look at some of the best pictures of the Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team in action in Morocco. Sam Sunderland (GBR) & Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY Rally du Maroc 2018 © Rally Zone Photos: Rally Zone
  8. Toby Price World Champion in Morocco in pictures

    Toby Price World Champion in Morocco in pictures Posted in People, Racing The Rally du Maroc concluded the five-round FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price won the event to be crowned the 2018 champion. The five-round series has seen the best rally racers from around the world compete over some of the most difficult terrain in the UAE, South America and Africa, with the title fight going down to the wire at the Morocco race. The Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team has enjoyed some strong results with all of its riders, which is especially positive in preparation to defend the team’s 17 consecutive Dakar wins, and this year’s Dakar champion, Matthias Walkner, joined Price on the podium with third in the overall standings. Price’s long string of accolades, including his Dakar win in 2016, now adds the world championship thanks to his consistent riding throughout the season. The 31-year-old Australian ace battled back from a broken femur sustained in the 2017 edition of the Dakar to take a podium third this January, followed by his world title win this week. We take a look at some of the best pictures of the Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team in action in Morocco. Sam Sunderland (GBR) & Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 RALLY Rally du Maroc 2018 © Rally Zone Photos: Rally Zone
  9. Interview of the Month: The New Guy – Talking with Cooper Webb Red Bull KTM’s exciting new AMA Supercross and Motocross recruit checks in for the first time … Roger De Coster has his man. Three times AMA champion Cooper Webb had been on the Belgian’s radar for some time in the vast and exciting world of American supercross and motocross. The athlete from North Carolina is just 22 years old and has two 250 SX West Coast titles and one 250 MX motocross crown but he has struggled to replicate that aggressive and determined form since moving into the 450 category for 2017; injuries have also not helped his progress. Red Bull KTM now have a fantastic prospect to mould. For 2019 Team Manager Ian Harrison will count on Webb’s undoubted talent alongside Marvin Musquin on the KTM 450 SX-F in the Baseball and American Football arenas and then across the breadth of the USA for the summer MX series. For Webb the move to ‘orange’ is a big one; a change of residence, manufacturer, trainer and guiding forces for a season that will stretch to more than thirty weekends. Ian Harrison (USA), Cooper Webb (USA) & Roger De Coster (BEL) KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION 2018 © KISKA, Inc. We facetimed Cooper at his base in Florida and after he’d taken his first laps with the KTM 450 SX-F and in the company of De Coster, Harrison and Co. Cooper, after the success with Ryan Dungey and Marvin in recent years is there a feeling that a chance with Red Bull KTM is one that cannot be considered lightly? “Absolutely. We’ve been talking for a long time and it was an honor when they reached out for me to be the next guy. They’ve really turned that team around and you cannot argue with the results over the past 5-8 years. I think they’ve managed to create one of the best teams out there.” The prospect of working with Roger and Ian must have been important as well? “I’ve seen them work every week and how they went about their racing. It was a big part of the appeal for me. The KTM is obviously a great bike but the way the crew is and all the knowledge and experience makes for a pretty powerful team. Even in my first few days with them and riding the bike, I learned so much about setup and racecraft. I’m only 22 so I still have a lot to learn.” It’s a hefty change of scene for you … “Yes and no. I mean it was a humongous change in some aspects: living, my trainer and from one bike or brand that I had been with for 5-6 years. Now that it is real and happening and moving fast it doesn’t feel that crazy. I’m finding my way and I’m really happy while I’m doing it. It’s also cool to be with Red Bull again because I was with them as an amateur and they always treated me really well. So, there have been a lot of changes but positive ones.” While there have been #5s, #1s, #25s on the KTMs then there have been great results. Does that increase the pressure to hit the same marks? “Ha! There’s always a bit of pressure in any team you go to but it’s encouraging what this team have achieved; they really have ‘been there and done it’ so I don’t see any reason why they cannot do it with me. Rather than pressure I see that past success like a ‘guideline’.” It’s early days but how do you like the feel of the KTM? “Yeah … I’ve only ever been Pro with one manufacturer so it is hard to comment on other bikes but the thing that struck me about the KTM was how light and narrow it felt. I was at home right away and it suited my style. The engine power is so usable. I rode it quite a bit and I didn’t really change much from the original setting we tried at the beginning because it worked right away.” You’ll be training with Aldon at the Baker’s Factory as well? Thoughts on entering that program? “Yeah, I’ve grown up seeing how he has been able to ‘transform’ guys and his record with different riders is definitely proven. For me it is another strong part of the whole KTM setup. I have an opportunity that really involves the whole package. I think it will be different for me but I’m excited about that.” And having Marvin as a teammate? “A great rider, and one that is at the top of his game right now. I’m be trying to learn as much as I can from him and it will also be interesting and nice to have a teammate like that because many times [in past teams] I’ve been the only guy. It will be nice for motivation or to be able to talk and bounce ideas around.” Marvin Musquin (FRA) KTM 450 SX-F Budds Creek (USA) 2018 © Simon Cudby It’s been a tough introduction for you to the 450s recently. Will this chance invigorate the motivation to be one of the very top names in the sport once again? “I had a special run in the Lites but then have struggled for two years on the bigger bikes because of different stuff. At times I showed good speed but things didn’t really click for some reason. It will be kinda cool to come up on the radar again. I know there will be people interested in what I do on the KTM and quite some attention but I will be putting in the work and doing everything to come into the year as strong as I can be. With everything around me I know I have put myself in the best possible position for winning on the track again. I had a very comfortable feeling with the guys and on the bike from the very first moments – almost a ‘night and day’ feeling actually – and that just gives you confidence.” So, when will people first see you in orange? “Well, the announcement is made and we might race at the Monster Cup in Vegas if I’m feeling ready and we’re all prepared. I won’t be doing any overseas races this year. The plan is to ‘stick to the plan’ and focus on getting ready with the bike for Anaheim 1. I don’t want anything to take me away from that or the work with Aldon.” Photos: KISKA, Inc. | Simon Cudby
  10. Interview of the Month: The New Guy – Talking with Cooper Webb Red Bull KTM’s exciting new AMA Supercross and Motocross recruit checks in for the first time … Roger De Coster has his man. Three times AMA champion Cooper Webb had been on the Belgian’s radar for some time in the vast and exciting world of American supercross and motocross. The athlete from North Carolina is just 22 years old and has two 250 SX West Coast titles and one 250 MX motocross crown but he has struggled to replicate that aggressive and determined form since moving into the 450 category for 2017; injuries have also not helped his progress. Red Bull KTM now have a fantastic prospect to mould. For 2019 Team Manager Ian Harrison will count on Webb’s undoubted talent alongside Marvin Musquin on the KTM 450 SX-F in the Baseball and American Football arenas and then across the breadth of the USA for the summer MX series. For Webb the move to ‘orange’ is a big one; a change of residence, manufacturer, trainer and guiding forces for a season that will stretch to more than thirty weekends. Ian Harrison (USA), Cooper Webb (USA) & Roger De Coster (BEL) KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION 2018 © KISKA, Inc. We facetimed Cooper at his base in Florida and after he’d taken his first laps with the KTM 450 SX-F and in the company of De Coster, Harrison and Co. Cooper, after the success with Ryan Dungey and Marvin in recent years is there a feeling that a chance with Red Bull KTM is one that cannot be considered lightly? “Absolutely. We’ve been talking for a long time and it was an honor when they reached out for me to be the next guy. They’ve really turned that team around and you cannot argue with the results over the past 5-8 years. I think they’ve managed to create one of the best teams out there.” The prospect of working with Roger and Ian must have been important as well? “I’ve seen them work every week and how they went about their racing. It was a big part of the appeal for me. The KTM is obviously a great bike but the way the crew is and all the knowledge and experience makes for a pretty powerful team. Even in my first few days with them and riding the bike, I learned so much about setup and racecraft. I’m only 22 so I still have a lot to learn.” It’s a hefty change of scene for you … “Yes and no. I mean it was a humongous change in some aspects: living, my trainer and from one bike or brand that I had been with for 5-6 years. Now that it is real and happening and moving fast it doesn’t feel that crazy. I’m finding my way and I’m really happy while I’m doing it. It’s also cool to be with Red Bull again because I was with them as an amateur and they always treated me really well. So, there have been a lot of changes but positive ones.” While there have been #5s, #1s, #25s on the KTMs then there have been great results. Does that increase the pressure to hit the same marks? “Ha! There’s always a bit of pressure in any team you go to but it’s encouraging what this team have achieved; they really have ‘been there and done it’ so I don’t see any reason why they cannot do it with me. Rather than pressure I see that past success like a ‘guideline’.” It’s early days but how do you like the feel of the KTM? “Yeah … I’ve only ever been Pro with one manufacturer so it is hard to comment on other bikes but the thing that struck me about the KTM was how light and narrow it felt. I was at home right away and it suited my style. The engine power is so usable. I rode it quite a bit and I didn’t really change much from the original setting we tried at the beginning because it worked right away.” You’ll be training with Aldon at the Baker’s Factory as well? Thoughts on entering that program? “Yeah, I’ve grown up seeing how he has been able to ‘transform’ guys and his record with different riders is definitely proven. For me it is another strong part of the whole KTM setup. I have an opportunity that really involves the whole package. I think it will be different for me but I’m excited about that.” And having Marvin as a teammate? “A great rider, and one that is at the top of his game right now. I’m be trying to learn as much as I can from him and it will also be interesting and nice to have a teammate like that because many times [in past teams] I’ve been the only guy. It will be nice for motivation or to be able to talk and bounce ideas around.” Marvin Musquin (FRA) KTM 450 SX-F Budds Creek (USA) 2018 © Simon Cudby It’s been a tough introduction for you to the 450s recently. Will this chance invigorate the motivation to be one of the very top names in the sport once again? “I had a special run in the Lites but then have struggled for two years on the bigger bikes because of different stuff. At times I showed good speed but things didn’t really click for some reason. It will be kinda cool to come up on the radar again. I know there will be people interested in what I do on the KTM and quite some attention but I will be putting in the work and doing everything to come into the year as strong as I can be. With everything around me I know I have put myself in the best possible position for winning on the track again. I had a very comfortable feeling with the guys and on the bike from the very first moments – almost a ‘night and day’ feeling actually – and that just gives you confidence.” So, when will people first see you in orange? “Well, the announcement is made and we might race at the Monster Cup in Vegas if I’m feeling ready and we’re all prepared. I won’t be doing any overseas races this year. The plan is to ‘stick to the plan’ and focus on getting ready with the bike for Anaheim 1. I don’t want anything to take me away from that or the work with Aldon.” Photos: KISKA, Inc. | Simon Cudby
  11. ktm Home sweet home

    Home sweet home Posted in People, Racing Open any MXGP rider’s agenda, and you’ll find out most of them will have marked their home race with exclamation marks; it’s the one race they look forward to most. Riding in front of a home crowd is something special. But, might there be more to it? We caught up with the two Dutch KTM factory riders and a sports psychologist to find out more about the effects of a home race. Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions “If you think about it a bit longer, it is kind of weird,” Glenn Coldenhoff claims. “When you race in your home country you get a sensation you’re able to dig deeper. Even when it’s technically no different than any other Grand Prix, of which there are plenty more.” With both Valkenswaard and Assen currently on the calendar, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider is a fortunate one. Italian riders are the only ones who have it better with three races on home soil. Coldenhoff really does believe there’s an advantage to riding ‘at home’. “At Valkenswaard you don’t hear the fans so much, but it’s the waving hands that spur you on. Assen has a massive grandstand that makes the whole track feel compact and you can really hear the fans trackside. That boosts your performance, but not in a way you could ever possibly measure. I mean, in the end I want to do well in Spain or Italy too; in that respect it makes no difference.” Possible advantages aside, the two-time GP winner can’t come up with any sort of disadvantage. “If I’d have to point a single thing out, it would be the media attention. It’s always a little bit more crowded, a bit busier, riding at home.” Jeffrey Herlings has the same sense as his compatriot and teammate of how home races provide a special vibe. “It adds urgency to doing well; you want to give the fans what they came to see”, the newly crowned MXGP World Champion explains. “And of course, it does put a little bit of extra pressure on. Take Valkenswaard for instance. I had won the GP there seven times in a row. With that streak in mind, I’ve become pretty much obliged to go out and win it again. If you then fail to do so [Herlings finished second in 2017] you’re going to feel like you’ve fallen short.” Glenn Coldenhoff (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions Controlling emotions Though both Coldenhoff and Herlings mine mostly positive energy from the home races, it in no way guarantees good results in front of the home crowd. Sports psychologist Afke van de Wouw has been working with individual athletes and professional teams for years, giving her a clear picture of high level sports, and where and how the mental aspect comes into play. To find out if there is such a thing as home advantage, Van de Wouw feels it is important not to overlook context. She believes it’s essential to look at the big picture. “It’s not uncommon to look at the mental and physical aspects separately, but that’s where things go tend to go amiss,” Van de Wouw says. “To be able to control your emotions, you need energy. When the body fatigues, it directly affects the ability to keep your feelings in check.” To make things even more complicated, you’re going to have to take into account how the athlete deals with certain given situations. In short; how does an MXGP rider channel the pressure put on by racing in front of a home crowd? “You have to look not so much at the results, but the way things are done to come to said results. I always like using the penalty in soccer scenario for this. Research has shown that a team captain – not rarely an older, more experienced player – is far more likely to miss than a younger player encountering the same stressful game situation. You would think the experienced team captain has seen it all, giving him the edge; he knows exactly what he has to do to make it work. Home advantage falls in the same category. It can boost your confidence, but certain athletes don’t handle the pressure too well, with negative thoughts spiraling out of control as a result. They start thinking about how all eyes are on them, each and every person trackside spurring them on – expecting them to do well. It really depends on the athlete’s mental strength to work with or around the challenges of the given situation.” Afke van de Wouw © Dre Schouwenberg Mental resilience Glenn Coldenhoff knows all about it. A home race might just be a nightmare for an athlete. Last year Coldenhoff hit a rough patch in race two on the artificial Assen track, but he wasn’t going to let it get to him. “I had managed to secure podium positions in Assen the two years before, so I arrived at the track full of confidence. You do put pressure on yourself, urging yourself on to do well, knowing you can do well, too. The second heat didn’t work out, at all. I crashed, sending my bike into one of the VIP hospitalities. At any other track that would’ve been the end of it; I probably would’ve left my bike trackside right then and there. I was in some serious pain, but I felt like I had to fight through it, for the fans that had come to see some good racing. Fans we’re going crazy, even though I was dead last. Won’t say I wasn’t disappointed, but my mind the only thing left to do was to carry on.” Every athlete possesses mental resilience; the ability to bounce back. Sports psychologist Van de Wouw says about 40% of that is genetic. “The genetic building blocks you get from your father and mother make up a certain physique and character. Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person? That outlook is pretty much predetermined, but there’s some gains to be made with training.” Most athletes focus their training on physical strength and stamina, but there’s more to be gained with the use of psychology. Van de Wouw: “Trial and error teaches you to deal with the mental side of high level sportsmanship, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Most athletes tend to ignore that side of their training for far too long. A trainer that supports and instructs them on how to become stronger physically and technically; every single athlete has at least one of those. Only when they start to suffer mentally, they turn to psychology.” Glenn Coldenhoff (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions Home crowd success It isn’t until an athlete hits rock bottom psychologically, when they knock on the door of a sports psychologist. “I ask tons of athletes the same question; what percentage of your performance boils down to the psychological factors in play? Most of them feel it’s well over fifty percent, but when asked how much of their time spent training is focused on training mental skills, most of them admit it’s near zero. It’s the weirdest thing, because they are aware of the importance of being focused and dealing with adversity, but they don’t seem to know that mental skills are just as trainable as physical skills.” The same goes for home races. It is far from a given that an athlete would perform better at a game, match, or race in their home country. “Nerves might be a part of it, potentially blocking the rider – keeping him from performing at his best. Everything might go exactly to plan during training, but when the time for the actual race comes, the results don’t show. It is often the pressure of feeling obliged to do well in front of your own audience that wreaks havoc on a rider’s chances to actually get the results he set out to obtain.” By applying the right methods an athlete can develop his mental resilience. Sports psychologist Afke van de Wouw thinks it’s of the utmost importance personal trainers and coaches expand their own skillset to further develop their trainees’ mental strength. “I schedule regular talks with individual athletes, but I’m not around constantly. A trainer or coach is capable of influencing the athlete a lot more. When said trainer constantly underlines where things are going amiss, the rider might develop a negative self-image. How a training schedule is set up plays a big part in this. Take small steps, set small goals. That way you’re approaching training from a positive point of view, because even though the successes itself are smaller, they are more frequent. That positive approach boosts confidence, allowing the athlete to build his performance from there.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions Positive effect Strangely enough, the advantage gained from a home race can also affect an adversary. Coldenhoff – in this case being the aforementioned adversary – knows exactly how that works. “Say, you’re racing in France, chasing down a French rider. He’ll be cheered on by his home crowd, which in turn spurs me on to show I’m not affected by him racing at home; I’ll be more driven to pass him.” It’s just one example of psychological warfare coming from the stands. Obviously, riders are constantly trying to get into their opponents’ heads, too, but on occasion that can seriously backfire. Van de Wouw: “Olympic swimming champion Inge de Bruijn once told about an opponent who tried to break her mentally by spitting in De Bruijn’s lane just before they were about to be sent off. Having something like that happen to you, can rattle an athlete. In Inge’s case it gave her an edge, converting the negative energy to teach her opponent who’s boss.” The positive outcomes of a home race will also come into play at the oncoming MX of Nations. Though you hardly get the chance to race in front of your home crowd at the yearly MX of Nations, it does have a same sort of vibe around it this time; for Coldenhoff and Herlings it might as well be a home Grand Prix. “I really feel that strongly, because I really feel Dutch. So, it’s an enormous honor to represent my country. That gives me something extra, like a home race would,” Herlings underlines. Coldenhoff shares the same special feeling, going into the annual MX of Nations races. “Those races are something else, something I really enjoy being a part of, being allowed to represent the colors of my home country. Especially since our team has been very strong over the past years, we’ve seen a rise in excitement among Dutch MX fans.” The Dutch team is yet to get their name on the victor’s trophy at the MX of Nations, but 2019 might be the year the Dutch team can put their home advantage to good use. Next year will see the MX of Nations run at the artificial track at the Assen TT circuit. Coldenhoff: “It’s a wonderful chance for us, having the MX of Nations at home. Winning is in the cards anyway, but at Assen we’ll have an edge over the other countries. But still, even when you get to race an event as big as that in front of your home crowd, you’re still going to have to make it work. You get no guarantees in this sport; you don’t ‘just’ win the MX of Nations. One small error and you’re on the back foot. From there it gets neigh on impossible to secure a place on the top step of the rostrum. In any case, we have all the right parts in our team to secure the first Dutch MX of Nations victory, on home soil.” Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Dre Schouwenberg
  12. Home sweet home

    Home sweet home Posted in People, Racing Open any MXGP rider’s agenda, and you’ll find out most of them will have marked their home race with exclamation marks; it’s the one race they look forward to most. Riding in front of a home crowd is something special. But, might there be more to it? We caught up with the two Dutch KTM factory riders and a sports psychologist to find out more about the effects of a home race. Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions “If you think about it a bit longer, it is kind of weird,” Glenn Coldenhoff claims. “When you race in your home country you get a sensation you’re able to dig deeper. Even when it’s technically no different than any other Grand Prix, of which there are plenty more.” With both Valkenswaard and Assen currently on the calendar, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider is a fortunate one. Italian riders are the only ones who have it better with three races on home soil. Coldenhoff really does believe there’s an advantage to riding ‘at home’. “At Valkenswaard you don’t hear the fans so much, but it’s the waving hands that spur you on. Assen has a massive grandstand that makes the whole track feel compact and you can really hear the fans trackside. That boosts your performance, but not in a way you could ever possibly measure. I mean, in the end I want to do well in Spain or Italy too; in that respect it makes no difference.” Possible advantages aside, the two-time GP winner can’t come up with any sort of disadvantage. “If I’d have to point a single thing out, it would be the media attention. It’s always a little bit more crowded, a bit busier, riding at home.” Jeffrey Herlings has the same sense as his compatriot and teammate of how home races provide a special vibe. “It adds urgency to doing well; you want to give the fans what they came to see”, the newly crowned MXGP World Champion explains. “And of course, it does put a little bit of extra pressure on. Take Valkenswaard for instance. I had won the GP there seven times in a row. With that streak in mind, I’ve become pretty much obliged to go out and win it again. If you then fail to do so [Herlings finished second in 2017] you’re going to feel like you’ve fallen short.” Glenn Coldenhoff (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions Controlling emotions Though both Coldenhoff and Herlings mine mostly positive energy from the home races, it in no way guarantees good results in front of the home crowd. Sports psychologist Afke van de Wouw has been working with individual athletes and professional teams for years, giving her a clear picture of high level sports, and where and how the mental aspect comes into play. To find out if there is such a thing as home advantage, Van de Wouw feels it is important not to overlook context. She believes it’s essential to look at the big picture. “It’s not uncommon to look at the mental and physical aspects separately, but that’s where things go tend to go amiss,” Van de Wouw says. “To be able to control your emotions, you need energy. When the body fatigues, it directly affects the ability to keep your feelings in check.” To make things even more complicated, you’re going to have to take into account how the athlete deals with certain given situations. In short; how does an MXGP rider channel the pressure put on by racing in front of a home crowd? “You have to look not so much at the results, but the way things are done to come to said results. I always like using the penalty in soccer scenario for this. Research has shown that a team captain – not rarely an older, more experienced player – is far more likely to miss than a younger player encountering the same stressful game situation. You would think the experienced team captain has seen it all, giving him the edge; he knows exactly what he has to do to make it work. Home advantage falls in the same category. It can boost your confidence, but certain athletes don’t handle the pressure too well, with negative thoughts spiraling out of control as a result. They start thinking about how all eyes are on them, each and every person trackside spurring them on – expecting them to do well. It really depends on the athlete’s mental strength to work with or around the challenges of the given situation.” Afke van de Wouw © Dre Schouwenberg Mental resilience Glenn Coldenhoff knows all about it. A home race might just be a nightmare for an athlete. Last year Coldenhoff hit a rough patch in race two on the artificial Assen track, but he wasn’t going to let it get to him. “I had managed to secure podium positions in Assen the two years before, so I arrived at the track full of confidence. You do put pressure on yourself, urging yourself on to do well, knowing you can do well, too. The second heat didn’t work out, at all. I crashed, sending my bike into one of the VIP hospitalities. At any other track that would’ve been the end of it; I probably would’ve left my bike trackside right then and there. I was in some serious pain, but I felt like I had to fight through it, for the fans that had come to see some good racing. Fans we’re going crazy, even though I was dead last. Won’t say I wasn’t disappointed, but my mind the only thing left to do was to carry on.” Every athlete possesses mental resilience; the ability to bounce back. Sports psychologist Van de Wouw says about 40% of that is genetic. “The genetic building blocks you get from your father and mother make up a certain physique and character. Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person? That outlook is pretty much predetermined, but there’s some gains to be made with training.” Most athletes focus their training on physical strength and stamina, but there’s more to be gained with the use of psychology. Van de Wouw: “Trial and error teaches you to deal with the mental side of high level sportsmanship, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Most athletes tend to ignore that side of their training for far too long. A trainer that supports and instructs them on how to become stronger physically and technically; every single athlete has at least one of those. Only when they start to suffer mentally, they turn to psychology.” Glenn Coldenhoff (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions Home crowd success It isn’t until an athlete hits rock bottom psychologically, when they knock on the door of a sports psychologist. “I ask tons of athletes the same question; what percentage of your performance boils down to the psychological factors in play? Most of them feel it’s well over fifty percent, but when asked how much of their time spent training is focused on training mental skills, most of them admit it’s near zero. It’s the weirdest thing, because they are aware of the importance of being focused and dealing with adversity, but they don’t seem to know that mental skills are just as trainable as physical skills.” The same goes for home races. It is far from a given that an athlete would perform better at a game, match, or race in their home country. “Nerves might be a part of it, potentially blocking the rider – keeping him from performing at his best. Everything might go exactly to plan during training, but when the time for the actual race comes, the results don’t show. It is often the pressure of feeling obliged to do well in front of your own audience that wreaks havoc on a rider’s chances to actually get the results he set out to obtain.” By applying the right methods an athlete can develop his mental resilience. Sports psychologist Afke van de Wouw thinks it’s of the utmost importance personal trainers and coaches expand their own skillset to further develop their trainees’ mental strength. “I schedule regular talks with individual athletes, but I’m not around constantly. A trainer or coach is capable of influencing the athlete a lot more. When said trainer constantly underlines where things are going amiss, the rider might develop a negative self-image. How a training schedule is set up plays a big part in this. Take small steps, set small goals. That way you’re approaching training from a positive point of view, because even though the successes itself are smaller, they are more frequent. That positive approach boosts confidence, allowing the athlete to build his performance from there.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions Positive effect Strangely enough, the advantage gained from a home race can also affect an adversary. Coldenhoff – in this case being the aforementioned adversary – knows exactly how that works. “Say, you’re racing in France, chasing down a French rider. He’ll be cheered on by his home crowd, which in turn spurs me on to show I’m not affected by him racing at home; I’ll be more driven to pass him.” It’s just one example of psychological warfare coming from the stands. Obviously, riders are constantly trying to get into their opponents’ heads, too, but on occasion that can seriously backfire. Van de Wouw: “Olympic swimming champion Inge de Bruijn once told about an opponent who tried to break her mentally by spitting in De Bruijn’s lane just before they were about to be sent off. Having something like that happen to you, can rattle an athlete. In Inge’s case it gave her an edge, converting the negative energy to teach her opponent who’s boss.” The positive outcomes of a home race will also come into play at the oncoming MX of Nations. Though you hardly get the chance to race in front of your home crowd at the yearly MX of Nations, it does have a same sort of vibe around it this time; for Coldenhoff and Herlings it might as well be a home Grand Prix. “I really feel that strongly, because I really feel Dutch. So, it’s an enormous honor to represent my country. That gives me something extra, like a home race would,” Herlings underlines. Coldenhoff shares the same special feeling, going into the annual MX of Nations races. “Those races are something else, something I really enjoy being a part of, being allowed to represent the colors of my home country. Especially since our team has been very strong over the past years, we’ve seen a rise in excitement among Dutch MX fans.” The Dutch team is yet to get their name on the victor’s trophy at the MX of Nations, but 2019 might be the year the Dutch team can put their home advantage to good use. Next year will see the MX of Nations run at the artificial track at the Assen TT circuit. Coldenhoff: “It’s a wonderful chance for us, having the MX of Nations at home. Winning is in the cards anyway, but at Assen we’ll have an edge over the other countries. But still, even when you get to race an event as big as that in front of your home crowd, you’re still going to have to make it work. You get no guarantees in this sport; you don’t ‘just’ win the MX of Nations. One small error and you’re on the back foot. From there it gets neigh on impossible to secure a place on the top step of the rostrum. In any case, we have all the right parts in our team to secure the first Dutch MX of Nations victory, on home soil.” Assen (NED) 2018 © Shot Up Productions Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Dre Schouwenberg
  13. ktm New champ on the block

    New champ on the block Posted in People, Racing He just had to score four more points this weekend at the last Grand Prix of the year, but Jorge Prado can already call himself the new MX2 World Champion. An injury forced title-contender Pauls Jonass to undergo an operation and prevented his chances of defending the MX2 crown in Imola, Italy. Just before this unexpected turn, we sat down with the Spanish Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider to fire a few questions in his direction. Jorge Prado (ESP) Teutschenthal (GER) 2018 © Ray Archer Jorge Prado experienced a perfect weekend in Assen and the battle in MX2 seemed to have been decided. In the far north of the Netherlands, reigning world champion Pauls Jonass had the opportunity to reduce his 24-point deficit, but an injury sustained at the Grand Prix of Turkey, a crash in the first moto in Assen and finally the surgery made it impossible for the 21 year-old Latvian to defend his MX2 world championship title. The crown is passed to a talented young man from Lugo, Spain. Jorge Prado has been recognized for many years as a major motocross talent, and that’s no surprise. At just 17 years of age, the Spaniard’s well stocked trophy cabinet already contains several important prizes. So it doesn’t feel strange for him to be world champion; after all, at the tender age of 10, he won the world championship title in the 65cc class. And he didn’t stop there: in 2015 he also claimed victory in the EMX125. The route to major success doesn’t seem far away for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider. After making his Grand Prix début in 2016, it was only a year later, during the fifth race weekend of the season, that he managed to secure his first victory. A MX2 world championship title fits perfectly in the success story of Prado. To get to know the new world champion a little better, we sat together with him while he talked openly about the MX2 title, his native country Spain, and his dreams for the future. Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Had you expected Pauls Jonass to perform less strongly in Assen? “To be honest, no. Jonass is always a strong opponent and he’s also an extremely good sand rider. Plus, he knows what it’s like to win in Assen, so I definitely had to take him into account. In any case, it could still have gone any way in the championship, but in the end it turned out perfect for me with a double moto win. Before I went to Assen, I was feeling the pressure. Before the start of the first moto, I was really nervous. It also felt different to usual, because you know this is about the world championship. Fortunately, I got everything under control and I won the first moto. Once I was on the bike, I didn’t feel any stress. With Jonass’ lesser result, some of the pressure was taken off me, which meant I felt a bit more relaxed riding the second moto.” You’ve already been world champion, in the juniors. Do you feel the same kind of pressure now? “It’s definitely comparable, but this title is a bit more significant of course.” Last year you were seventh in the final ranking, and now you are world champion. A huge step forwards. Is that purely down to the experience, that you’re now getting better results? “The problem was that I wasn’t consistent enough. I won three GPs and was really often in the top five, but scored zero points in the eight motos. Last year I was still at school, while participating in the Motocross World Championship at the same time. There were a lot of competitions and training sessions on the program, but I also wanted to do as well as possible at school. That didn’t really work. Sometimes I was really, really exhausted, which made it difficult to train well and maintain focus. I was sleeping less, so I also wasn’t getting enough rest. It was really difficult, both mentally and physically.” And that’s no longer the situation this year? “Correct. That’s why, at the start of the season, I also had the idea that I could go for the world championship. I trained really hard in the winter, but two months before the first GP, I got injured. I was back on the bike just two weeks before the competition in Argentina. But I still knew I had a chance of winning the title.” Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Lommel (BEL) 2018 © Ray Archer And now the time has come, your first MX2 title! “It’s the reason why my whole family moved to Belgium, to realize my dream. We wanted to end up exactly here, so that I had the opportunity to win a world title. It’s great that my dream came true.” It’s been a considerable sacrifice for you and your family, leaving your home for your dream. “It definitely hasn’t been easy, because the rest of the family still lives in Spain. My mum and dad also had to put aside their work to come to Belgium. So they made a lot of sacrifices to embark on this adventure. We’ve lived in Lommel for six years now, that’s also where I went to school. I also speak Dutch now, as well as Spanish and English. I think we’ve adjusted reasonably well to this new situation. In the beginning it was difficult of course, but now we seem to be doing well.” What things were the most difficult to adjust to? “Almost everything is different, so it takes a while before you start to feel a little bit at home. But now, we’ve even taken on Belgian habits. Such as the time that we eat. Nowadays we have lunch at twelve o’clock, while in Spain that’s much later. The same applies to the evening meal. We used to eat at around nine o’clock, but now it’s more like seven o’clock. But sometimes also half past seven or eight o’clock. Still more like Spanish times [laughs]. We still eat a very Mediterranean diet, only it’s difficult to eat fish in Belgium. And I do really love fish.” Do you sometimes miss Spain? “Of course, I still feel 100% Spanish. But I’m really happy in Belgium, I feel at home here. Of course, I don’t know for sure, but I think the same applies to my parents.” Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Semarang (INA) 2018 © Ray Archer Now we’re talking about your native country, that’s where your love of motocross began of course. How exactly did you discover the sport? “I was born and raised in Lugo, a city in Galicia with a population of around 100,000. Fifteen minutes away from our house was a motocross circuit, but that was the only one for miles around. Motocross isn’t that popular there. My first experience of the sport was with trials riding, from the age of three. My father used to ride and I always loved watching. So eventually, I got a trials bike and started riding myself. When I was six I switched to a motocross bike. I enjoyed that even more.” You were successful in motocross pretty quickly. Who was your trainer in Spain? “My father, nobody else. He’s only ever ridden at an amateur level himself, but I think he was still able to give me useful tips. If you see where I am now, that must have been the case, right? We’re always together, my father is there at all the training sessions and races. Recently I’ve been training a lot with Tony Cairoli. That’s really important for me, because I receive a lot of tips from him. It’s difficult to say exactly what those are, but he has a huge amount of experience of course. So, he helps me both on and off the track. For example, how to handle fans and the media.” Is it true that you also once tried your hand at road racing? “Yes, in 2011 I went to see Sete Gibernau [former MotoGP rider]. He has his own circuit and he invited me to come and ride there. It was fun to try and I even had the opportunity to ride Moto3. But I enjoyed motocross a lot more, so I kept on doing that.” Marc Marquez also started out in motocross, but eventually switched to road racing. That branch of motorsport gets a lot of attention in Spain. Is there still room left for you in the newspapers and magazines? “A little, but not a great deal. Perhaps this will change a bit with the world title. But there’s still a lot of work to be done to increase the popularity of motocross in Spain. Of course, it has also to do with the fact that there are hardly any Spanish riders competing at the top level. If that changes, motocross will get more media coverage. I hope I can help the sport to grow in my country. That children will be inspired and also want to try motocross. That would really make me proud.” Jesus Prado (ESP) & Jorge Prado (ESP) Afyon (TUR) 2018 © Ray Archer Would you like to actively work on that, on raising the sport in Spain to a higher level? “Yes, that definitely appeals to me, but first I have to accomplish my true goal. And that is the MXGP title. Perhaps after that I can think more about my role in raising the level of motocross in Spain. So at this moment in time, I’m not yet focused on that. And I’m still young, so all kinds of things could still happen.” Who were your idols when you were a young kid? “In the beginning, I had three. First and foremost it was Valentino Rossi, while Adam Raga was my hero in trials. I also had a favorite in motocross: Ricky Carmichael. Later, that changed again. I became more a fan of Marc Marquez, Tony Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings and Ken Roczen.” Back to the present. In an earlier interview you mentioned that, after winning the MX2 title, you’d like to go to the U.S. to race there. Is that still the case? “For the next five years I’m staying here, because whatever happens I want to make the switch to the MXGP. And I’m going to try to win the world championship, as I want to be the world´s best motocross rider. Keep going until that goal has been accomplished, that’s my plan right now. And to achieve that, I have to find a way to beat Jeffrey and Tony, in my opinion the best riders at the moment. That’s also the reason I want to stay in the Motocross World Championship. So, going to the U.S. has been put on the back burner for the time being.” But still not completely out of your mind? “I feel really good in the De Carli setup, and so I don’t feel the need to go to the US. If you’d asked me the same question last year, I would have answered differently. My aspiration for the AMA Supercross was a lot stronger at that time. But not anymore, because the switch to Italy has really been great for me. I have everything I need, so I’m definitely not planning to embark on a complete change at this point. What the future holds, I cannot know of course. I could still decide to make the move. I’m still young, so I can still turn my focus to the US in a few years’ time. In that respect, anything is possible.” Jorge Prado (ESP) Sevlievo (BUL) 2018 © Ray Archer Photos: Ray Archer
  14. New champ on the block

    New champ on the block Posted in People, Racing He just had to score four more points this weekend at the last Grand Prix of the year, but Jorge Prado can already call himself the new MX2 World Champion. An injury forced title-contender Pauls Jonass to undergo an operation and prevented his chances of defending the MX2 crown in Imola, Italy. Just before this unexpected turn, we sat down with the Spanish Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider to fire a few questions in his direction. Jorge Prado (ESP) Teutschenthal (GER) 2018 © Ray Archer Jorge Prado experienced a perfect weekend in Assen and the battle in MX2 seemed to have been decided. In the far north of the Netherlands, reigning world champion Pauls Jonass had the opportunity to reduce his 24-point deficit, but an injury sustained at the Grand Prix of Turkey, a crash in the first moto in Assen and finally the surgery made it impossible for the 21 year-old Latvian to defend his MX2 world championship title. The crown is passed to a talented young man from Lugo, Spain. Jorge Prado has been recognized for many years as a major motocross talent, and that’s no surprise. At just 17 years of age, the Spaniard’s well stocked trophy cabinet already contains several important prizes. So it doesn’t feel strange for him to be world champion; after all, at the tender age of 10, he won the world championship title in the 65cc class. And he didn’t stop there: in 2015 he also claimed victory in the EMX125. The route to major success doesn’t seem far away for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider. After making his Grand Prix début in 2016, it was only a year later, during the fifth race weekend of the season, that he managed to secure his first victory. A MX2 world championship title fits perfectly in the success story of Prado. To get to know the new world champion a little better, we sat together with him while he talked openly about the MX2 title, his native country Spain, and his dreams for the future. Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Had you expected Pauls Jonass to perform less strongly in Assen? “To be honest, no. Jonass is always a strong opponent and he’s also an extremely good sand rider. Plus, he knows what it’s like to win in Assen, so I definitely had to take him into account. In any case, it could still have gone any way in the championship, but in the end it turned out perfect for me with a double moto win. Before I went to Assen, I was feeling the pressure. Before the start of the first moto, I was really nervous. It also felt different to usual, because you know this is about the world championship. Fortunately, I got everything under control and I won the first moto. Once I was on the bike, I didn’t feel any stress. With Jonass’ lesser result, some of the pressure was taken off me, which meant I felt a bit more relaxed riding the second moto.” You’ve already been world champion, in the juniors. Do you feel the same kind of pressure now? “It’s definitely comparable, but this title is a bit more significant of course.” Last year you were seventh in the final ranking, and now you are world champion. A huge step forwards. Is that purely down to the experience, that you’re now getting better results? “The problem was that I wasn’t consistent enough. I won three GPs and was really often in the top five, but scored zero points in the eight motos. Last year I was still at school, while participating in the Motocross World Championship at the same time. There were a lot of competitions and training sessions on the program, but I also wanted to do as well as possible at school. That didn’t really work. Sometimes I was really, really exhausted, which made it difficult to train well and maintain focus. I was sleeping less, so I also wasn’t getting enough rest. It was really difficult, both mentally and physically.” And that’s no longer the situation this year? “Correct. That’s why, at the start of the season, I also had the idea that I could go for the world championship. I trained really hard in the winter, but two months before the first GP, I got injured. I was back on the bike just two weeks before the competition in Argentina. But I still knew I had a chance of winning the title.” Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Lommel (BEL) 2018 © Ray Archer And now the time has come, your first MX2 title! “It’s the reason why my whole family moved to Belgium, to realize my dream. We wanted to end up exactly here, so that I had the opportunity to win a world title. It’s great that my dream came true.” It’s been a considerable sacrifice for you and your family, leaving your home for your dream. “It definitely hasn’t been easy, because the rest of the family still lives in Spain. My mum and dad also had to put aside their work to come to Belgium. So they made a lot of sacrifices to embark on this adventure. We’ve lived in Lommel for six years now, that’s also where I went to school. I also speak Dutch now, as well as Spanish and English. I think we’ve adjusted reasonably well to this new situation. In the beginning it was difficult of course, but now we seem to be doing well.” What things were the most difficult to adjust to? “Almost everything is different, so it takes a while before you start to feel a little bit at home. But now, we’ve even taken on Belgian habits. Such as the time that we eat. Nowadays we have lunch at twelve o’clock, while in Spain that’s much later. The same applies to the evening meal. We used to eat at around nine o’clock, but now it’s more like seven o’clock. But sometimes also half past seven or eight o’clock. Still more like Spanish times [laughs]. We still eat a very Mediterranean diet, only it’s difficult to eat fish in Belgium. And I do really love fish.” Do you sometimes miss Spain? “Of course, I still feel 100% Spanish. But I’m really happy in Belgium, I feel at home here. Of course, I don’t know for sure, but I think the same applies to my parents.” Jorge Prado (ESP) KTM 250 SX-F Semarang (INA) 2018 © Ray Archer Now we’re talking about your native country, that’s where your love of motocross began of course. How exactly did you discover the sport? “I was born and raised in Lugo, a city in Galicia with a population of around 100,000. Fifteen minutes away from our house was a motocross circuit, but that was the only one for miles around. Motocross isn’t that popular there. My first experience of the sport was with trials riding, from the age of three. My father used to ride and I always loved watching. So eventually, I got a trials bike and started riding myself. When I was six I switched to a motocross bike. I enjoyed that even more.” You were successful in motocross pretty quickly. Who was your trainer in Spain? “My father, nobody else. He’s only ever ridden at an amateur level himself, but I think he was still able to give me useful tips. If you see where I am now, that must have been the case, right? We’re always together, my father is there at all the training sessions and races. Recently I’ve been training a lot with Tony Cairoli. That’s really important for me, because I receive a lot of tips from him. It’s difficult to say exactly what those are, but he has a huge amount of experience of course. So, he helps me both on and off the track. For example, how to handle fans and the media.” Is it true that you also once tried your hand at road racing? “Yes, in 2011 I went to see Sete Gibernau [former MotoGP rider]. He has his own circuit and he invited me to come and ride there. It was fun to try and I even had the opportunity to ride Moto3. But I enjoyed motocross a lot more, so I kept on doing that.” Marc Marquez also started out in motocross, but eventually switched to road racing. That branch of motorsport gets a lot of attention in Spain. Is there still room left for you in the newspapers and magazines? “A little, but not a great deal. Perhaps this will change a bit with the world title. But there’s still a lot of work to be done to increase the popularity of motocross in Spain. Of course, it has also to do with the fact that there are hardly any Spanish riders competing at the top level. If that changes, motocross will get more media coverage. I hope I can help the sport to grow in my country. That children will be inspired and also want to try motocross. That would really make me proud.” Jesus Prado (ESP) & Jorge Prado (ESP) Afyon (TUR) 2018 © Ray Archer Would you like to actively work on that, on raising the sport in Spain to a higher level? “Yes, that definitely appeals to me, but first I have to accomplish my true goal. And that is the MXGP title. Perhaps after that I can think more about my role in raising the level of motocross in Spain. So at this moment in time, I’m not yet focused on that. And I’m still young, so all kinds of things could still happen.” Who were your idols when you were a young kid? “In the beginning, I had three. First and foremost it was Valentino Rossi, while Adam Raga was my hero in trials. I also had a favorite in motocross: Ricky Carmichael. Later, that changed again. I became more a fan of Marc Marquez, Tony Cairoli, Jeffrey Herlings and Ken Roczen.” Back to the present. In an earlier interview you mentioned that, after winning the MX2 title, you’d like to go to the U.S. to race there. Is that still the case? “For the next five years I’m staying here, because whatever happens I want to make the switch to the MXGP. And I’m going to try to win the world championship, as I want to be the world´s best motocross rider. Keep going until that goal has been accomplished, that’s my plan right now. And to achieve that, I have to find a way to beat Jeffrey and Tony, in my opinion the best riders at the moment. That’s also the reason I want to stay in the Motocross World Championship. So, going to the U.S. has been put on the back burner for the time being.” But still not completely out of your mind? “I feel really good in the De Carli setup, and so I don’t feel the need to go to the US. If you’d asked me the same question last year, I would have answered differently. My aspiration for the AMA Supercross was a lot stronger at that time. But not anymore, because the switch to Italy has really been great for me. I have everything I need, so I’m definitely not planning to embark on a complete change at this point. What the future holds, I cannot know of course. I could still decide to make the move. I’m still young, so I can still turn my focus to the US in a few years’ time. In that respect, anything is possible.” Jorge Prado (ESP) Sevlievo (BUL) 2018 © Ray Archer Photos: Ray Archer
  15. It´s new. It´s READY TO RACE. Introducing the KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA MY2019. There are not many things more READY TO RACE than the KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA and this dune-eating, rally-bashing, Dakar-loving race machine has been re-designed from the ground up. Almost identical to the KTM 450 RALLY factory bike that took KTM to its 17th consecutive Dakar victory earlier this year with Matthias Walkner, this bike is the ultimate machine for those racing in rally competition. KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA MY2019 © KTM The MY2019 KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA has a completely new chassis that has been re-designed to improve mass centralization, bringing the weight to the center and lower in the bike for more agility and stability over the previous model. A new swingarm, linkage and shock absorber with a new air filter box, fuel tanks and seat provide a range of improvements, especially in overall weight distribution. A shorter and lower Akrapovič exhaust continues with the mass centralization focus, which has been a key point of evolution in the new generation, while the bike is fitted with WP XACT PRO 48mm closed cartridge Cone Valve suspension, along with its high-quality Brembo brakes, a carbon navigational tower with new bodywork that encompasses sophisticated ergonomics and aerodynamics that make the bike more refined than ever. With a new 450cc fuel-injection engine with increased power thanks to a new cylinder head, and a new transmission that has been developed and tested in the severest of conditions, the MY2019 KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA is ready for anything when it comes to the perils of the Dakar. With only marginal differences to its factory counterpart, the KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA is made in limited numbers and developed by the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team. 75 units will be produced this year and all units have already been reserved before production – probably thanks to the high-quality components, innovation and the satisfaction of knowing during development the bike has been tested in anger by the likes of Dakar winners Toby Price, Sam Sunderland and Walkner. KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA MY2019 © KTM “The all-new KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA is based on our already-successful new factory machine that we began racing at the end of last year, which was specifically developed to win the Dakar. With the latest generation, our goal and focus was to develop a bike around the style of our current factory riders, who required something with more comfort, more agility and improved stability,” said KTM Factory Rally Team Leader, Stefan Huber (who is a guru of all things rally and rally development). “We looked for an improvement in handling, a lower weight, as well as a bike that also meets the demands of the conditions and intensity that we now find at Dakar. The KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA machine is almost identical to those raced by our athletes, and is available for customers to get the opportunity to own and ride a really premium, purpose-developed rally machine with high-quality components and maximum innovation. It’s been truly revised from the ground up, and we are looking forward to seeing these bikes being raced by our customers.” Take a look at this thing of beauty. We might not all want to endure the extremes of Dakar with its freezing high-altitude mountainous stages, comprised with gnarly hard pack, desert and dunes in 50 degree temperatures over 1000’s of kilometers, but we’re pretty sure this would be a cool bike to own. KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA MY2019 © KTM Photos: KTM
  16. It´s new. It´s READY TO RACE. Introducing the KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA MY2019. There are not many things more READY TO RACE than the KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA and this dune-eating, rally-bashing, Dakar-loving race machine has been re-designed from the ground up. Almost identical to the KTM 450 RALLY factory bike that took KTM to its 17th consecutive Dakar victory earlier this year with Matthias Walkner, this bike is the ultimate machine for those racing in rally competition. KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA MY2019 © KTM The MY2019 KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA has a completely new chassis that has been re-designed to improve mass centralization, bringing the weight to the center and lower in the bike for more agility and stability over the previous model. A new swingarm, linkage and shock absorber with a new air filter box, fuel tanks and seat provide a range of improvements, especially in overall weight distribution. A shorter and lower Akrapovič exhaust continues with the mass centralization focus, which has been a key point of evolution in the new generation, while the bike is fitted with WP XACT PRO 48mm closed cartridge Cone Valve suspension, along with its high-quality Brembo brakes, a carbon navigational tower with new bodywork that encompasses sophisticated ergonomics and aerodynamics that make the bike more refined than ever. With a new 450cc fuel-injection engine with increased power thanks to a new cylinder head, and a new transmission that has been developed and tested in the severest of conditions, the MY2019 KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA is ready for anything when it comes to the perils of the Dakar. With only marginal differences to its factory counterpart, the KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA is made in limited numbers and developed by the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team. 75 units will be produced this year and all units have already been reserved before production – probably thanks to the high-quality components, innovation and the satisfaction of knowing during development the bike has been tested in anger by the likes of Dakar winners Toby Price, Sam Sunderland and Walkner. KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA MY2019 © KTM “The all-new KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA is based on our already-successful new factory machine that we began racing at the end of last year, which was specifically developed to win the Dakar. With the latest generation, our goal and focus was to develop a bike around the style of our current factory riders, who required something with more comfort, more agility and improved stability,” said KTM Factory Rally Team Leader, Stefan Huber (who is a guru of all things rally and rally development). “We looked for an improvement in handling, a lower weight, as well as a bike that also meets the demands of the conditions and intensity that we now find at Dakar. The KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA machine is almost identical to those raced by our athletes, and is available for customers to get the opportunity to own and ride a really premium, purpose-developed rally machine with high-quality components and maximum innovation. It’s been truly revised from the ground up, and we are looking forward to seeing these bikes being raced by our customers.” Take a look at this thing of beauty. We might not all want to endure the extremes of Dakar with its freezing high-altitude mountainous stages, comprised with gnarly hard pack, desert and dunes in 50 degree temperatures over 1000’s of kilometers, but we’re pretty sure this would be a cool bike to own. KTM 450 RALLY REPLICA MY2019 © KTM Photos: KTM
  17. Can and Deniz Öncü: The winning twins Posted in People, Racing Having the same last name on the screen of their respective KTM RC 250 Rs is the only giveaway of this duo being twins. Brothers Can and Deniz look nothing alike, making it obvious they are not identical twins – they’re fraternal twins. Deniz is short in stature, barely makes the scales tip to forty kilos, and if you didn’t know any better you’d say he’s quite a bit younger than his brother Can. But since they’re twins, they couldn’t be too far apart age wise; they both celebrated their fifteenth birthday at the end of July. Can is easy to pick out of a crowd, or to distinguish from his brother, obviously. Can is quite a bit taller than Deniz and unlike his ‘little brother’ Can has a lot of bushy hair to stuff into his crash helmet. Deniz & Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem Apart from their physical differences, they share one unmistakable resemblance; they have a feisty right wrist. Can and Deniz are taking the GP paddock by storm, showing impressive talent and even more potential by shaking up the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – the Grand Prix’ talent class. Both Turks are currently racing their second season in the class, taking their fellow rookies hostage with their unmistakable potential for future greatness. Recently Can underlined his prowess by taking the Rookies championship title prematurely at the Misano GP round. And Deniz isn’t out for the count yet, either, with a chance to finish second in the championship during the final round at Aragon (September 21-23). This season Can looks to be the man to beat of the two, but make no mistake; Deniz took the Asia Talent Cup – an Asian counterpart of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – title last year, so he’s no slouch. Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem On the prowl Despite their obvious talent, the Turkish brothers have remained off the radar of most motorcycle racing fans, but you can be sure that’s all about to change. The duo is set to move into the Moto3 World Championship rather sooner than later. FIM even changed its regulations to allow Can to move into Moto3 next year. The 2018 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champ would otherwise not be eligible to enter the GP championship, as he’ll only be fifteen when next season kicks off in March. The FIM added an exemption to allow the Rookies Cup champion to be allowed a starting license at fifteen years old, as they have also allowed the Moto3 Junior World Championship winner to progress a year ahead of his peers. The twins from Alanya have a long road ahead of them, but they’re both on the prowl to reel in a successful career in motorsports, and so far things are going really well for the duo. MotoGPTM is still quite far away for the youngsters, but in working towards that goal the two Turks will always have the experience of Kenan Sofuoglu to build on. As their mentor, Sofuoglu – a five-time World Supersport 600 champion – is working tirelessly to help the Öncü brothers to achieve success. Not just personal success, either. Sofuoglu is the poster boy of Turkish motorcycle racing culture and, as such, has been going above and beyond to outline Turkey as a racing nation. To figure out where the Öncü twins fit into this masterplan, we sat down with Can and Deniz to get to know them. Always good to pick the brain of young and talented riders like them, who have their minds firmly set on making it into MotoGPTM in a couple of seasons time. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions How did you end up in motorsports? Can: “We used to go to our father’s office every now and then, and we would pass a place along the way that had two minibikes out in front. We would dream of riding those two bikes together. When we were four years old, we got our first bikes. It was unbelievable! Our father had bought them for us. In the beginning we only rode the bikes for fun, finishing the day off with a barbecue. At some point a friend of ours suggested we should enter a race. Deniz couldn’t partake because he was injured at the time, but I could. I won the race first time out, lapping the number two twice.” Deniz: “Not a word of a lie. He really did win it by a huge margin.” Did your father race at some point? Deniz: “No, he never did. Let’s put it this way; he was the fastest superbike rider in the streets … but actual racing – no, he did not.” Do a lot of kids ride in Turkey? Deniz: “They do. Not like in Spain, though. The problem is they don’t train enough to really master racing. We do. We get up at six in the morning every single day to work out. The other kids simply don’t. They get up at around eight or nine, then get breakfast and head to school. Then when they get back from school, they play videogames. If they are into sports, they’ll mostly do that during the weekends. When that’s your approach, you’re never going to make the improvements you need.” What road did you follow before you came to the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup? Can: “We started out doing motocross after which we switched to supermoto. Four years ago, we made the switch to road racing in the Turkish NSF100 Cup and R3 Cup. From there we made it into the Asia Talent Cup and since last year we’ve been racing in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup as well.” What made you switch to road racing over staying in motocross or supermoto? Can: “Two reasons, actually. The first being speed. The higher the speed, the bigger the rush. And safety was a factor, too. If you crash in motocross, you’re always bound to break something. In road racing that isn’t as big of a concern. We wear a lot of protection and going off usually means you literally slide off, usually quite innocently. Highsiders, however; that’s a different story.” So you don’t do motocross anymore because of the risk of getting injured? Deniz: “Yes, it’s just too dangerous. We race almost every two to three weeks, and if you were to break something on a motocross bike, you’re out for a while. That would cost you so many points for the championship and sitting at home doesn’t gain you any more experience. We do on occasion ride supermoto in the winter. Purely to work on drifting the bike and improving our balance on the bike. In the summer we focus on working out in the gym, running, and cycling.” Can & Deniz Öncü (TUR) KTM RC 250 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Does Turkey offer you enough circuits to train at? Can: “Unfortunately it doesn’t and that’s a big problem. Istanbul Park is the only track in Turkey that could host a GP and we aren’t even allowed to race there because it’s constantly rented out to car drivers. Kenan Sofuoglu does have a small track we train at sometimes.” Speaking of Kenan; isn’t he the man that persuaded you to switch to road racing? Can: “That’s right. About four years ago he pushed us into road racing. Mostly because of safety concerns, but it turned out to be a good choice to make the switch.” Deniz: “Kenan still coaches us. We can call him whenever we have a problem, any problem. He is a good friend of ours and he always sends us his best wishes before a race. And – as a five-time world champion – we can learn so much from him. He really is a hero of ours, like he is to many Turks.” There’s also a young Turk in the World Superbike paddock, Toprak Razgatlioğlu. Are there any others we should keep an eye out for? Can: “Not at this time. No-one is training hard enough to make it big in Turkey. Of course I hope more guys can make it to the world championship level, but for the time being that just isn’t the case.” It seems working hard is the key to success for you, right? It must be quite hard to keep that up for young guys like yourselves. Can: “Luckily we have our father to support us. He’s constantly pushing us to be as good as we can be. Even when we don’t want to, hahaha. He makes us work to be at one hundred percent all of the time.” Can you still rival each other on track even though you’re twins? Deniz: “Of course we can. He might be my brother, but I’ll always try to beat him. That goes both ways. And on track we also help each other when we can. If my lap times are lacking, Can gives me pointers, and I will help him whenever he needs it.” Can: “I really want to win, but if that is not within reach and Deniz beats me, I can still be happy in the end. It also motivates me to be better next time out, so I can beat him.” Deniz: “And when he does, I’ll be ready to beat Can the next time. It’s a great motivation for both of us, allowing us to grow and work our way up to a higher level.” You both have completely different physiques; what sort of effect does that have on the bike? Deniz: “Everyone always thinks I’m at an advantage because of my weight and length, but it’s the exact opposite, actually. My brother weighs about sixty kilos, the bike weighs eighty kilos. Because of that, he doesn’t have to add weight to the bike in order to make the rider plus bike minimum weight. I have to stick on twenty kilos of ballast somewhere because I only weigh forty kilos. That is never an advantage, because where are you going to put all that weight? Plus, if you’re a bit heavier, it allows you to work the bike more. Extra weight usually adds a bit of extra muscle too.” Deniz Öncü (TUR) KTM RC 250 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions It’s pretty obvious you guys like motorsports, but what else do you enjoy? Can: “We really like BMX riding. Not too competitively though, because we don’t want to crash. It’s mostly for training and a bit of fun. We don’t enter in races either. We also swim a lot, because it’s both training as well as a way to relax. Personally, I’m not too much into running, but my brother thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world. I think he likes it best because he can really ‘kill’ me at running, but then I’m faster on a bicycle. That’s why I like it.” It seems you really do everything together. Can: “We do. We even share a bedroom. We’re together 24 hours a day.” Will that change in five years when you might both have girlfriends? Deniz: “Don’t know, but for now we’re not thinking about girlfriends. It’s just bikes. That’s what our entire world is about.” You’re both riding the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and the Moto3 Junior World Championship this season. In both classes you’re riding KTM; is there a big difference between the bikes? Can: “The Red Bull KTM Ajo bike is completely different from the Rookies bike. That KTM allows you to change and adjust pretty much everything. That makes the bike way easier to ride than the KTM we run in the Rookies Cup. But then you can also get the adjustments wrong, because there’s just so much you can change. Luckily, we have a very good team behind us that always has plenty of data at hand to sort things out. We learn to set up the bike better each time out, which will be a big advantage when we progress in our careers.” Wouldn’t that be the ultimate dream end goal; the two of you as the riders for the KTM factory racing team in MotoGPTM? Deniz: “That would absolutely be great, but we don’t get to hung up on dreams like that. We set small and achievable goals; that way we can be proud of our achievements much quicker. When you set a goal you probably won’t be able to achieve, it can only go badly. So for now our entire focus is on the next step; and that’s Moto3.” Can: “But yes, it would be a dream to form a single MotoGPTM team as twins. That is something we would both really like.” Deniz & Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem
  18. Can and Deniz Öncü: The winning twins

    Can and Deniz Öncü: The winning twins Posted in People, Racing Having the same last name on the screen of their respective KTM RC 250 Rs is the only giveaway of this duo being twins. Brothers Can and Deniz look nothing alike, making it obvious they are not identical twins – they’re fraternal twins. Deniz is short in stature, barely makes the scales tip to forty kilos, and if you didn’t know any better you’d say he’s quite a bit younger than his brother Can. But since they’re twins, they couldn’t be too far apart age wise; they both celebrated their fifteenth birthday at the end of July. Can is easy to pick out of a crowd, or to distinguish from his brother, obviously. Can is quite a bit taller than Deniz and unlike his ‘little brother’ Can has a lot of bushy hair to stuff into his crash helmet. Deniz & Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem Apart from their physical differences, they share one unmistakable resemblance; they have a feisty right wrist. Can and Deniz are taking the GP paddock by storm, showing impressive talent and even more potential by shaking up the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – the Grand Prix’ talent class. Both Turks are currently racing their second season in the class, taking their fellow rookies hostage with their unmistakable potential for future greatness. Recently Can underlined his prowess by taking the Rookies championship title prematurely at the Misano GP round. And Deniz isn’t out for the count yet, either, with a chance to finish second in the championship during the final round at Aragon (September 21-23). This season Can looks to be the man to beat of the two, but make no mistake; Deniz took the Asia Talent Cup – an Asian counterpart of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – title last year, so he’s no slouch. Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem On the prowl Despite their obvious talent, the Turkish brothers have remained off the radar of most motorcycle racing fans, but you can be sure that’s all about to change. The duo is set to move into the Moto3 World Championship rather sooner than later. FIM even changed its regulations to allow Can to move into Moto3 next year. The 2018 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champ would otherwise not be eligible to enter the GP championship, as he’ll only be fifteen when next season kicks off in March. The FIM added an exemption to allow the Rookies Cup champion to be allowed a starting license at fifteen years old, as they have also allowed the Moto3 Junior World Championship winner to progress a year ahead of his peers. The twins from Alanya have a long road ahead of them, but they’re both on the prowl to reel in a successful career in motorsports, and so far things are going really well for the duo. MotoGPTM is still quite far away for the youngsters, but in working towards that goal the two Turks will always have the experience of Kenan Sofuoglu to build on. As their mentor, Sofuoglu – a five-time World Supersport 600 champion – is working tirelessly to help the Öncü brothers to achieve success. Not just personal success, either. Sofuoglu is the poster boy of Turkish motorcycle racing culture and, as such, has been going above and beyond to outline Turkey as a racing nation. To figure out where the Öncü twins fit into this masterplan, we sat down with Can and Deniz to get to know them. Always good to pick the brain of young and talented riders like them, who have their minds firmly set on making it into MotoGPTM in a couple of seasons time. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions How did you end up in motorsports? Can: “We used to go to our father’s office every now and then, and we would pass a place along the way that had two minibikes out in front. We would dream of riding those two bikes together. When we were four years old, we got our first bikes. It was unbelievable! Our father had bought them for us. In the beginning we only rode the bikes for fun, finishing the day off with a barbecue. At some point a friend of ours suggested we should enter a race. Deniz couldn’t partake because he was injured at the time, but I could. I won the race first time out, lapping the number two twice.” Deniz: “Not a word of a lie. He really did win it by a huge margin.” Did your father race at some point? Deniz: “No, he never did. Let’s put it this way; he was the fastest superbike rider in the streets … but actual racing – no, he did not.” Do a lot of kids ride in Turkey? Deniz: “They do. Not like in Spain, though. The problem is they don’t train enough to really master racing. We do. We get up at six in the morning every single day to work out. The other kids simply don’t. They get up at around eight or nine, then get breakfast and head to school. Then when they get back from school, they play videogames. If they are into sports, they’ll mostly do that during the weekends. When that’s your approach, you’re never going to make the improvements you need.” What road did you follow before you came to the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup? Can: “We started out doing motocross after which we switched to supermoto. Four years ago, we made the switch to road racing in the Turkish NSF100 Cup and R3 Cup. From there we made it into the Asia Talent Cup and since last year we’ve been racing in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup as well.” What made you switch to road racing over staying in motocross or supermoto? Can: “Two reasons, actually. The first being speed. The higher the speed, the bigger the rush. And safety was a factor, too. If you crash in motocross, you’re always bound to break something. In road racing that isn’t as big of a concern. We wear a lot of protection and going off usually means you literally slide off, usually quite innocently. Highsiders, however; that’s a different story.” So you don’t do motocross anymore because of the risk of getting injured? Deniz: “Yes, it’s just too dangerous. We race almost every two to three weeks, and if you were to break something on a motocross bike, you’re out for a while. That would cost you so many points for the championship and sitting at home doesn’t gain you any more experience. We do on occasion ride supermoto in the winter. Purely to work on drifting the bike and improving our balance on the bike. In the summer we focus on working out in the gym, running, and cycling.” Can & Deniz Öncü (TUR) KTM RC 250 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions Does Turkey offer you enough circuits to train at? Can: “Unfortunately it doesn’t and that’s a big problem. Istanbul Park is the only track in Turkey that could host a GP and we aren’t even allowed to race there because it’s constantly rented out to car drivers. Kenan Sofuoglu does have a small track we train at sometimes.” Speaking of Kenan; isn’t he the man that persuaded you to switch to road racing? Can: “That’s right. About four years ago he pushed us into road racing. Mostly because of safety concerns, but it turned out to be a good choice to make the switch.” Deniz: “Kenan still coaches us. We can call him whenever we have a problem, any problem. He is a good friend of ours and he always sends us his best wishes before a race. And – as a five-time world champion – we can learn so much from him. He really is a hero of ours, like he is to many Turks.” There’s also a young Turk in the World Superbike paddock, Toprak Razgatlioğlu. Are there any others we should keep an eye out for? Can: “Not at this time. No-one is training hard enough to make it big in Turkey. Of course I hope more guys can make it to the world championship level, but for the time being that just isn’t the case.” It seems working hard is the key to success for you, right? It must be quite hard to keep that up for young guys like yourselves. Can: “Luckily we have our father to support us. He’s constantly pushing us to be as good as we can be. Even when we don’t want to, hahaha. He makes us work to be at one hundred percent all of the time.” Can you still rival each other on track even though you’re twins? Deniz: “Of course we can. He might be my brother, but I’ll always try to beat him. That goes both ways. And on track we also help each other when we can. If my lap times are lacking, Can gives me pointers, and I will help him whenever he needs it.” Can: “I really want to win, but if that is not within reach and Deniz beats me, I can still be happy in the end. It also motivates me to be better next time out, so I can beat him.” Deniz: “And when he does, I’ll be ready to beat Can the next time. It’s a great motivation for both of us, allowing us to grow and work our way up to a higher level.” You both have completely different physiques; what sort of effect does that have on the bike? Deniz: “Everyone always thinks I’m at an advantage because of my weight and length, but it’s the exact opposite, actually. My brother weighs about sixty kilos, the bike weighs eighty kilos. Because of that, he doesn’t have to add weight to the bike in order to make the rider plus bike minimum weight. I have to stick on twenty kilos of ballast somewhere because I only weigh forty kilos. That is never an advantage, because where are you going to put all that weight? Plus, if you’re a bit heavier, it allows you to work the bike more. Extra weight usually adds a bit of extra muscle too.” Deniz Öncü (TUR) KTM RC 250 R Assen (NED) 2018 © Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions It’s pretty obvious you guys like motorsports, but what else do you enjoy? Can: “We really like BMX riding. Not too competitively though, because we don’t want to crash. It’s mostly for training and a bit of fun. We don’t enter in races either. We also swim a lot, because it’s both training as well as a way to relax. Personally, I’m not too much into running, but my brother thinks it’s the greatest thing in the world. I think he likes it best because he can really ‘kill’ me at running, but then I’m faster on a bicycle. That’s why I like it.” It seems you really do everything together. Can: “We do. We even share a bedroom. We’re together 24 hours a day.” Will that change in five years when you might both have girlfriends? Deniz: “Don’t know, but for now we’re not thinking about girlfriends. It’s just bikes. That’s what our entire world is about.” You’re both riding the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and the Moto3 Junior World Championship this season. In both classes you’re riding KTM; is there a big difference between the bikes? Can: “The Red Bull KTM Ajo bike is completely different from the Rookies bike. That KTM allows you to change and adjust pretty much everything. That makes the bike way easier to ride than the KTM we run in the Rookies Cup. But then you can also get the adjustments wrong, because there’s just so much you can change. Luckily, we have a very good team behind us that always has plenty of data at hand to sort things out. We learn to set up the bike better each time out, which will be a big advantage when we progress in our careers.” Wouldn’t that be the ultimate dream end goal; the two of you as the riders for the KTM factory racing team in MotoGPTM? Deniz: “That would absolutely be great, but we don’t get to hung up on dreams like that. We set small and achievable goals; that way we can be proud of our achievements much quicker. When you set a goal you probably won’t be able to achieve, it can only go badly. So for now our entire focus is on the next step; and that’s Moto3.” Can: “But yes, it would be a dream to form a single MotoGPTM team as twins. That is something we would both really like.” Deniz & Can Öncü (TUR) Assen (NED) 2018 © Guus van Goethem Photos: Jarno van Osch/Shot Up Productions | Guus van Goethem
  19. Interview of the Month: The words of a master – Herlings talks mammoth 2018 One week after his 24th birthday Jeffrey Herlings blew out the candle on an utterly dominant MXGP season so we collected a few exclusive words with the world’s fastest dirtbike racer. 2018 is just four numbers among a thick ledger of other digits for Red Bull KTM’s newest World Champion (and just his second season in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship) Jeffrey Herlings. His first title with the KTM 450 SX-F was secured in Assen last weekend and crowned a season of emphatic achievement; only the training accident that led to collarbone surgery and his absence from round eleven in Italy in June remains the sole blot on a peachy copybook. Talking about the commitment to defeat the world’s best – including nine times No.1 and teammate Tony Cairoli (runner-up in 2018) – and the effort into construction of a record-breaking campaign Herlings gave us the low-down. Jeffrey Herlings (NED) Assen (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Argentina and the last lap victory by passing Tony: it seemed to set the tone for the season. Did you feel like it was a big statement at the time? “I came into Argentina with high expectations but I also did not know what to expect. On Saturday I was really nervous. I think I was fastest in Timed Practice but then in the Qualification Heat Tony passed me on the third-fourth lap and I wanted to fight back but went down. I was seventh or eighth and I wasn’t riding well. I had two bad starts on Sunday and things were not really going my way but in that second moto I started picking off riders like Desalle and Van Horebeek and then with seven-eight minutes to go it was only Tony in front of me but with a serious gap. To close that gap to the reigning world champion at the first round was something special. To then take the lead on the last lap was a way of making a statement. I was saying: “I’m here for the big picture”.” Was that the perfect start? How much did it help your confidence? “It gave me a boost. Every year you come out of the winter period and you never really know what will happen. Some riders do the Italian championship and some riders look to other races but [the first Grand Prix] is the first time where everything really comes together, and with all the top guys. I think everybody wants to make some sort of statement at the first round. I came home from Argentina and thought ‘Ok, good …’ but also thought ‘nineteen rounds to go, must stay fit, must stay healthy’. Obviously, my confidence grew during the season with more and more wins. It was pretty amazing what we have achieved this year and to win so many motos and overall GPs, despite missing a round, I don’t think many people have done that.” You’ve only dropped something like 17 points all season, which is incredible … “Yes, I had a couple of second places and a third but to race 36 motos and win 31 of them is pretty cool.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Neuquen (ARG) 2018 © Ray Archer What was the secret to beating a nine times world champion and a force of consistency like Tony Cairoli? “At the beginning of 2017 I did not take the MXGP class that seriously or behave in the way I should because I was not ‘all-in’ and was still going out with friends and doing things that I should normally be doing at my age! I realized quickly that to win in MXGP you have to go for it 110% and be totally committed to the sport from the moment you wake up until the minute you go to bed for ten months of the year. That’s’ what I did this time. The key to winning was making sure that ‘nothing was left on the table’. I watched out for anything and everything: my food, the training, the travelling, resting, testing. Everything had to click together as well as the people around me. It was necessary to beat a great champion like Tony. We raced 18 times together and I beat him 17 times: I think it is not pure luck any more.” You said you lived like a “monk” to make the results happen – great quote – but that must carry quite a cost … “If that’s what it takes to win then I have to do it. It was something I milled since the beginning of last winter. Maybe if I was somewhere in between the commitment of 2018 and 2017 then I could still win but I wanted to make sure I gave the maximum and make sure it was enough to win. I’d rather do that for a short number of years and try to collect titles and win races and GPs instead of going easy for fifteen years and maybe not winning much at all. I prefer to go all-out and shorter.” It has been a season of dreams, real domination. How can you beat it or muster motivation to go again or try to repeat it? “As a kid I always wanted to win a premier class world championship. MX2 is a world title … but it is nothing compared to this and what I had to do for it. I felt that in MX2 – especially the last years – people would think “Herlings is here, which means he is either going to win or probably go to the hospital’. This time it was against the hard guys, the heavy-hitters, like Tony, [Tim] Gajser, [Romain] Febvre and those that have been taking titles. I really wanted to beat Tony at his best and I don’t think he was at his best this year but he was close. I’ve seen races from him a few years back and also close-up now and personally I don’t think he has been riding as well as he is now and to beat him straight-up? Pretty cool. I have been studying and watching him for a number of years and I’ve always thought ‘I want to beat that guy …’ and to do it for the championship is something really nice.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Sevlievo (BUL) 2018 © Ray Archer One negative is that you’ve made it look easy, almost like an MX2 campaign. You’ve said repeatedly that the level is so high but it must be tricky to make people believe that … “Yeah, it is difficult. People might see it like MX2, but if I look back now then MX2 was a bit like for ‘children’ whereas this [MXGP] is like for the big boys. Winning an MX2 championship is still not easy – believe me – there were still some amazing riders there. The level of MX2 might not be the same as it was in the past now, but everybody looks at it in a different way and from their own perspective. I think the MXGP class is one of the ‘heaviest’ it has ever been; there are multiple world champions in the class and a lot of GP winners. Even now there are some top riders who are struggling to find a ride for 2019. It is a very tough class so that’s why you have to go all-out and put all of your heart into it. Some people might see that and some might not but I’m sure that most in the sport and the industry will.” What about the emotion of a day like Assen? “When I woke up in the morning I felt ‘today’s the day’ and I had all the flashbacks of getting up and doing the routine: getting on the road bike, going into the gym … all the ten months of hard work and dedication went down to this day when it was most likely going to happen. My mum and I had tears in our eyes this morning. It was definitely emotional and going into the last lap I knew I was world championship because I’d lapped up to 7th-8th and everything went through my head of what we’d done this year and in the past. I was a big fan of Tony back in 2004 and then he won in Lierop I thought ‘one day I want to be like those guys’ and here we are fourteen years later fighting the biggest racers in the world and I have won the biggest championship I could possibly win.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer You’ve credited the team and said the KTM 450 SX-F has been almost perfect. Is there much to improve with the bike because you have an unbeatable package at the moment? “Well, we have some new things [to come] and the competition is always working to get closer. I think they are really pushing to take the crown away from KTM. This year the team will again have MXGP and MX2 championship and the group also took the Supercross title as well as the 250 West. I think the other manufacturers are looking and trying to stand up to beat us. We have to improve. If we stop development then we won’t be number one any more. We have things to test: something on the engine and also with the chassis to keeping working and to try to be better. Up until now the package has been really good … but if you look at the bikes ten years ago then they were great but compared to now they are pretty crappy! Our 2018 bike is awesome now but again in ten years it will be something that’s not good enough. Development never stops.” How will you treat yourself in the coming weeks and do you have any other ambitions? “The plan after the Motocross of Nations is to not ride for about six weeks: I asked for some time off! Obviously, there are still some [promo] things I need to do but that’s my job and I love to do them as part of the marketing but I asked not to ride the bike for a few weeks and finally be able to hang out with some friends and have a holiday. Even small things like when friends go out for fast food and I have to have a salad: scrap that! I want to enjoy a little bit of being a normal 24-year-old kid. We have to make a lot of sacrifices [as a rider] and that’s what I do to try and win. KTM are really supportive of that; they see how hard I have worked and understand wanting a few weeks away from it. I think it is also necessary: I have to recharge the battery if I want to win next year and do it all over again. I don’t really have any burning challenge away from the bike. I just want that normality that I have to avoid during the year! Halfway through November we’ll start the preparation for next year.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Photos: Ray Archer
  20. Interview of the Month: The words of a master – Herlings talks mammoth 2018 One week after his 24th birthday Jeffrey Herlings blew out the candle on an utterly dominant MXGP season so we collected a few exclusive words with the world’s fastest dirtbike racer. 2018 is just four numbers among a thick ledger of other digits for Red Bull KTM’s newest World Champion (and just his second season in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship) Jeffrey Herlings. His first title with the KTM 450 SX-F was secured in Assen last weekend and crowned a season of emphatic achievement; only the training accident that led to collarbone surgery and his absence from round eleven in Italy in June remains the sole blot on a peachy copybook. Talking about the commitment to defeat the world’s best – including nine times No.1 and teammate Tony Cairoli (runner-up in 2018) – and the effort into construction of a record-breaking campaign Herlings gave us the low-down. Jeffrey Herlings (NED) Assen (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Argentina and the last lap victory by passing Tony: it seemed to set the tone for the season. Did you feel like it was a big statement at the time? “I came into Argentina with high expectations but I also did not know what to expect. On Saturday I was really nervous. I think I was fastest in Timed Practice but then in the Qualification Heat Tony passed me on the third-fourth lap and I wanted to fight back but went down. I was seventh or eighth and I wasn’t riding well. I had two bad starts on Sunday and things were not really going my way but in that second moto I started picking off riders like Desalle and Van Horebeek and then with seven-eight minutes to go it was only Tony in front of me but with a serious gap. To close that gap to the reigning world champion at the first round was something special. To then take the lead on the last lap was a way of making a statement. I was saying: “I’m here for the big picture”.” Was that the perfect start? How much did it help your confidence? “It gave me a boost. Every year you come out of the winter period and you never really know what will happen. Some riders do the Italian championship and some riders look to other races but [the first Grand Prix] is the first time where everything really comes together, and with all the top guys. I think everybody wants to make some sort of statement at the first round. I came home from Argentina and thought ‘Ok, good …’ but also thought ‘nineteen rounds to go, must stay fit, must stay healthy’. Obviously, my confidence grew during the season with more and more wins. It was pretty amazing what we have achieved this year and to win so many motos and overall GPs, despite missing a round, I don’t think many people have done that.” You’ve only dropped something like 17 points all season, which is incredible … “Yes, I had a couple of second places and a third but to race 36 motos and win 31 of them is pretty cool.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Tony Cairoli (ITA) KTM 450 SX-F Neuquen (ARG) 2018 © Ray Archer What was the secret to beating a nine times world champion and a force of consistency like Tony Cairoli? “At the beginning of 2017 I did not take the MXGP class that seriously or behave in the way I should because I was not ‘all-in’ and was still going out with friends and doing things that I should normally be doing at my age! I realized quickly that to win in MXGP you have to go for it 110% and be totally committed to the sport from the moment you wake up until the minute you go to bed for ten months of the year. That’s’ what I did this time. The key to winning was making sure that ‘nothing was left on the table’. I watched out for anything and everything: my food, the training, the travelling, resting, testing. Everything had to click together as well as the people around me. It was necessary to beat a great champion like Tony. We raced 18 times together and I beat him 17 times: I think it is not pure luck any more.” You said you lived like a “monk” to make the results happen – great quote – but that must carry quite a cost … “If that’s what it takes to win then I have to do it. It was something I milled since the beginning of last winter. Maybe if I was somewhere in between the commitment of 2018 and 2017 then I could still win but I wanted to make sure I gave the maximum and make sure it was enough to win. I’d rather do that for a short number of years and try to collect titles and win races and GPs instead of going easy for fifteen years and maybe not winning much at all. I prefer to go all-out and shorter.” It has been a season of dreams, real domination. How can you beat it or muster motivation to go again or try to repeat it? “As a kid I always wanted to win a premier class world championship. MX2 is a world title … but it is nothing compared to this and what I had to do for it. I felt that in MX2 – especially the last years – people would think “Herlings is here, which means he is either going to win or probably go to the hospital’. This time it was against the hard guys, the heavy-hitters, like Tony, [Tim] Gajser, [Romain] Febvre and those that have been taking titles. I really wanted to beat Tony at his best and I don’t think he was at his best this year but he was close. I’ve seen races from him a few years back and also close-up now and personally I don’t think he has been riding as well as he is now and to beat him straight-up? Pretty cool. I have been studying and watching him for a number of years and I’ve always thought ‘I want to beat that guy …’ and to do it for the championship is something really nice.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Sevlievo (BUL) 2018 © Ray Archer One negative is that you’ve made it look easy, almost like an MX2 campaign. You’ve said repeatedly that the level is so high but it must be tricky to make people believe that … “Yeah, it is difficult. People might see it like MX2, but if I look back now then MX2 was a bit like for ‘children’ whereas this [MXGP] is like for the big boys. Winning an MX2 championship is still not easy – believe me – there were still some amazing riders there. The level of MX2 might not be the same as it was in the past now, but everybody looks at it in a different way and from their own perspective. I think the MXGP class is one of the ‘heaviest’ it has ever been; there are multiple world champions in the class and a lot of GP winners. Even now there are some top riders who are struggling to find a ride for 2019. It is a very tough class so that’s why you have to go all-out and put all of your heart into it. Some people might see that and some might not but I’m sure that most in the sport and the industry will.” What about the emotion of a day like Assen? “When I woke up in the morning I felt ‘today’s the day’ and I had all the flashbacks of getting up and doing the routine: getting on the road bike, going into the gym … all the ten months of hard work and dedication went down to this day when it was most likely going to happen. My mum and I had tears in our eyes this morning. It was definitely emotional and going into the last lap I knew I was world championship because I’d lapped up to 7th-8th and everything went through my head of what we’d done this year and in the past. I was a big fan of Tony back in 2004 and then he won in Lierop I thought ‘one day I want to be like those guys’ and here we are fourteen years later fighting the biggest racers in the world and I have won the biggest championship I could possibly win.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Assen (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer You’ve credited the team and said the KTM 450 SX-F has been almost perfect. Is there much to improve with the bike because you have an unbeatable package at the moment? “Well, we have some new things [to come] and the competition is always working to get closer. I think they are really pushing to take the crown away from KTM. This year the team will again have MXGP and MX2 championship and the group also took the Supercross title as well as the 250 West. I think the other manufacturers are looking and trying to stand up to beat us. We have to improve. If we stop development then we won’t be number one any more. We have things to test: something on the engine and also with the chassis to keeping working and to try to be better. Up until now the package has been really good … but if you look at the bikes ten years ago then they were great but compared to now they are pretty crappy! Our 2018 bike is awesome now but again in ten years it will be something that’s not good enough. Development never stops.” How will you treat yourself in the coming weeks and do you have any other ambitions? “The plan after the Motocross of Nations is to not ride for about six weeks: I asked for some time off! Obviously, there are still some [promo] things I need to do but that’s my job and I love to do them as part of the marketing but I asked not to ride the bike for a few weeks and finally be able to hang out with some friends and have a holiday. Even small things like when friends go out for fast food and I have to have a salad: scrap that! I want to enjoy a little bit of being a normal 24-year-old kid. We have to make a lot of sacrifices [as a rider] and that’s what I do to try and win. KTM are really supportive of that; they see how hard I have worked and understand wanting a few weeks away from it. I think it is also necessary: I have to recharge the battery if I want to win next year and do it all over again. I don’t really have any burning challenge away from the bike. I just want that normality that I have to avoid during the year! Halfway through November we’ll start the preparation for next year.” Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team (NED) 2018 © Ray Archer Photos: Ray Archer
  21. Caden Braswell: A bright spark for the future Posted in People, Racing Caden Braswell is the 2018 FIM 85cc Junior Motocross World Champion. A 14-year-old with a bright future, Braswell hails from Shalimar in Florida, USA and is an emerging talent that has progressed through the ranks since he began racing at the age of six. Following in the footsteps of his father, who also raced, Braswell started riding at five years old and began racing a year later. He went on to the compete in the Mini Os, and then at the famed Loretta Lynn´s – the proving ground for many young American motocross racers, and Braswell qualified at his first attempt. Caden Braswell (USA) KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography Fast forward to 2018 and Braswell was selected to compete for Team USA at the FIM Junior Motocross World Championship, which was held in Horsham, Australia. Braswell scored third and first aboard his KTM 85 SX and with it the youngster took the overall honors to be crowned the FIM 85cc Junior Motocross World Champion. Belgian racer Liam Everts won the opening moto in convincing style aboard his KTM 85 SX, while unfortunately crashing out of moto two, and the overall podium was made up of KTM racers with Dutch rider Kay de Wolf in second position and fellow countryman Kay Karssemakers in third. KTM riders Marek Vitezslav and Logan Best won a moto each in the FIM 65cc Junior Motocross World Cup, making it a weekend where KTM racers shone around the hardpack Horsham track. “It was awesome,” said Braswell when talking about the experience of racing in Australia. “I had a blast and I really got to know the other teammates and their families. It was unlike anything I’ve ever done. Such a cool experience. The team spirit was high and it felt great to represent Team USA,” continued the junior. “In the first moto I grabbed the holeshot and I was out front, but then my knee brace locked up so I fell back until I was able to fix the issue. I charged back up to third, which was okay.” “For the second moto I got a horrible start. Mike (who went with Braswell to the event) said I was about 25th or so around the first turn. I’m not sure, but I felt like I was last (laughs).” “I knew I had to go, so I put my head down and just started pushing. When I saw the chequered flag, I wasn’t sure if I had won. I pulled off the track and everyone came running over yelling that I won! It was incredible. Nothing could beat that feeling.” Caden Braswell (USA) © Marc Jones Photography Braswell was in Australia without his parents, but was supported by Mike Burkeen who was there at the event with the young gun. The Junior World Championships are held over one weekend in a similar format to a MXGP World Championship round, and the outcome is determined by two motos. It’s an intense, but useful experience for young riders to compete against the very best in the world in their category, and while also performing as a part of a team representing their country. Team USA finished in fourth position. Talking about his bike, Braswell said: “READY TO RACE is what I think of my KTM. KTM provided me with a bike in Australia that we ran stock. I put my suspension on the bike and raced it. It was super-fast – I pulled a start and won a world title right out of the box. So yea, READY TO RACE is a great way to describe my KTM.” Caden Braswell (#6, USA) & Team USA KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography Braswell has big dreams for the future, hoping to replicate his home hero Ryan Dungey, who he says was always fast, smooth, consistent and smart. In Braswell’s words he’d love to “make his mark on the sport and break records”. A lover of hills, breaking bumps and ruts, like those found at his favorite track – Millcreek in the USA – Braswell has certainly made the first major step on his ladder of success. “I’d like to thank my parents for always supporting me. Sean Michael Gerrits, as he really helped us this year. Mike Burkeen for taking me to Australia since my parents couldn’t be there. Ricky and Mike from the AMA for giving me the opportunity. KTM for providing me a great bike to race while in Australia. OB for the awesome graphics. TLD for keeping me looking good. Alpinestars for killer boots and Oakley for great goggles. FMF for helping make my KTM even faster. Dunlop tires for keeping my bike hooked up with great tires. Factory Connection Suspension for making sure my bike handled flawlessly. Mika Metals for sprockets and bars and great support Nihilo Concepts, Lynks Racing and Team USA. I’d also like to thank the other riders and their parents for the support while we were there. It really was a team effort. One for all and all for one Team USA,” concluded Braswell. Caden Braswell (USA) KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography Photos: Marc Jones Photography
  22. Caden Braswell: A bright spark for the future

    Caden Braswell: A bright spark for the future Posted in People, Racing Caden Braswell is the 2018 FIM 85cc Junior Motocross World Champion. A 14-year-old with a bright future, Braswell hails from Shalimar in Florida, USA and is an emerging talent that has progressed through the ranks since he began racing at the age of six. Following in the footsteps of his father, who also raced, Braswell started riding at five years old and began racing a year later. He went on to the compete in the Mini Os, and then at the famed Loretta Lynn´s – the proving ground for many young American motocross racers, and Braswell qualified at his first attempt. Caden Braswell (USA) KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography Fast forward to 2018 and Braswell was selected to compete for Team USA at the FIM Junior Motocross World Championship, which was held in Horsham, Australia. Braswell scored third and first aboard his KTM 85 SX and with it the youngster took the overall honors to be crowned the FIM 85cc Junior Motocross World Champion. Belgian racer Liam Everts won the opening moto in convincing style aboard his KTM 85 SX, while unfortunately crashing out of moto two, and the overall podium was made up of KTM racers with Dutch rider Kay de Wolf in second position and fellow countryman Kay Karssemakers in third. KTM riders Marek Vitezslav and Logan Best won a moto each in the FIM 65cc Junior Motocross World Cup, making it a weekend where KTM racers shone around the hardpack Horsham track. “It was awesome,” said Braswell when talking about the experience of racing in Australia. “I had a blast and I really got to know the other teammates and their families. It was unlike anything I’ve ever done. Such a cool experience. The team spirit was high and it felt great to represent Team USA,” continued the junior. “In the first moto I grabbed the holeshot and I was out front, but then my knee brace locked up so I fell back until I was able to fix the issue. I charged back up to third, which was okay.” “For the second moto I got a horrible start. Mike (who went with Braswell to the event) said I was about 25th or so around the first turn. I’m not sure, but I felt like I was last (laughs).” “I knew I had to go, so I put my head down and just started pushing. When I saw the chequered flag, I wasn’t sure if I had won. I pulled off the track and everyone came running over yelling that I won! It was incredible. Nothing could beat that feeling.” Caden Braswell (USA) © Marc Jones Photography Braswell was in Australia without his parents, but was supported by Mike Burkeen who was there at the event with the young gun. The Junior World Championships are held over one weekend in a similar format to a MXGP World Championship round, and the outcome is determined by two motos. It’s an intense, but useful experience for young riders to compete against the very best in the world in their category, and while also performing as a part of a team representing their country. Team USA finished in fourth position. Talking about his bike, Braswell said: “READY TO RACE is what I think of my KTM. KTM provided me with a bike in Australia that we ran stock. I put my suspension on the bike and raced it. It was super-fast – I pulled a start and won a world title right out of the box. So yea, READY TO RACE is a great way to describe my KTM.” Caden Braswell (#6, USA) & Team USA KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography Braswell has big dreams for the future, hoping to replicate his home hero Ryan Dungey, who he says was always fast, smooth, consistent and smart. In Braswell’s words he’d love to “make his mark on the sport and break records”. A lover of hills, breaking bumps and ruts, like those found at his favorite track – Millcreek in the USA – Braswell has certainly made the first major step on his ladder of success. “I’d like to thank my parents for always supporting me. Sean Michael Gerrits, as he really helped us this year. Mike Burkeen for taking me to Australia since my parents couldn’t be there. Ricky and Mike from the AMA for giving me the opportunity. KTM for providing me a great bike to race while in Australia. OB for the awesome graphics. TLD for keeping me looking good. Alpinestars for killer boots and Oakley for great goggles. FMF for helping make my KTM even faster. Dunlop tires for keeping my bike hooked up with great tires. Factory Connection Suspension for making sure my bike handled flawlessly. Mika Metals for sprockets and bars and great support Nihilo Concepts, Lynks Racing and Team USA. I’d also like to thank the other riders and their parents for the support while we were there. It really was a team effort. One for all and all for one Team USA,” concluded Braswell. Caden Braswell (USA) KTM 85 SX © Marc Jones Photography Photos: Marc Jones Photography
  23. Jeffrey Herlings: The numbers of a motocross master Posted in People, Racing The MXGP World Champion-in-waiting and birthday boy has been a statistical force of nature in 2018. On the edge of a momentous weekend ahead for Jeffrey Herlings we delve into the digits … Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Kegums (LAT) 2018 © Ray Archer Today (Wednesday) Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings celebrates his 24th birthday, and is only a matter of hours away from his home Grand Prix this weekend and a double celebration with fulfilment of his lifetime dream of winning an FIM Motocross World Championship in the premier class of MXGP. 2018 has been nothing short of sensational for the Dutchman who has not stopped racking up statistics. There is always a bigger story behind the numbers (we’ll get to that) but Jeffrey’s track record is perhaps the most comprehensive in any FIM motorcycle racing series this year. How? Just see … Jeffrey Herlings (#84, NED) KTM 450 SX-F St. Jean d´ Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer Since the end of February 2018 MXGP has reached 18 rounds and 36 motos to-date. In that time and through heat, humidity, freezing cold, rain, hard-pack, sand, mud and all types of conditions #84 has: Won 15 rounds – equaling a record total of victories for one season Walked the podium 17 times (he missed the Grand Prix of Ottobiano with injury) Has finished no lower than 2nd (twice) Has finished no lower than 3rd in a moto, just once (first race of the Grand Prix of Russia) Has claimed 29 chequered flags from a possible 34, 23 more than the next rider Has led 397 of the total of 643 laps this year, 200 laps more than the next closest rider Only two other MXGP riders have won a moto or Grand Prix in 2018 He is currently in his longest winning streak in just his second season in the MXGP class with 7 consecutive successes. They have come in Indonesia (x2), Czech Republic, Belgium, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Turkey. He has also won in Argentina, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Latvia, Germany, Britain and France this year Herlings has led the championship at all but one Grand Prix in 2018 If he confirms the title by finishing 15th or higher (and if Tony Cairoli wins) in the first moto of the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix then he will have four career titles: the same amount as Harry Everts, Torsten Hallman and Heikki Mikkola He will be only the third rider to have both MX2 and MXGP FIM World Championship medals If Herlings wins the final two rounds of the season he’ll take his career win tally to 84 (he is already the third most successful motocrosser ever. Stefan Everts holds the record at 101 wins) Round 19 of 20 will take place in the sand of Assen for the fourth Grand Prix of the Netherlands to be staged by the famous Dutch Circuit. Herlings won the event in 2017. Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Pangkal Pinang (INA) 2018 © Ray Archer 15 wins, 17 podiums, 29 motos, 95-point lead: It almost makes the job look easy but Herlings is always quick to stress the amount of work, compromise and sacrifice that has gone into the scorecard. He also regularly credits the Red Bull KTM Team and perhaps their most crucial work was in refining the works KTM 450 SX-F so that by round five in Portugal Herlings was in frequent contention for Grand Prix holeshots. Aside from the scrutiny of battling and facing-off against teammate, reigning champ and nine times title winner Tony Cairoli, Herlings also had other hard moments. Prior to round eleven he sustained a multiple fracture to his right collarbone while training and missed the Grand Prix of Ottobiano. Less than three weeks after surgery he returned at the Grand Prix of Asia and hasn’t been toppled from the top of the podium since. Ottobiano and the dramatic loss of 50 points from the lead he’d been steadily building in the series was a stark reminder of the horrendous narrow margins between glory and disaster in MXGP and helped Herlings refocus. The rest has been written in the annals of the sport. Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Wayne Banks (AUS) KTM 450 SX-F St. Jean d´Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer Photos: Ray Archer
  24. Jeffrey Herlings: The numbers of a motocross master

    Jeffrey Herlings: The numbers of a motocross master Posted in People, Racing The MXGP World Champion-in-waiting and birthday boy has been a statistical force of nature in 2018. On the edge of a momentous weekend ahead for Jeffrey Herlings we delve into the digits … Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Kegums (LAT) 2018 © Ray Archer Today (Wednesday) Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings celebrates his 24th birthday, and is only a matter of hours away from his home Grand Prix this weekend and a double celebration with fulfilment of his lifetime dream of winning an FIM Motocross World Championship in the premier class of MXGP. 2018 has been nothing short of sensational for the Dutchman who has not stopped racking up statistics. There is always a bigger story behind the numbers (we’ll get to that) but Jeffrey’s track record is perhaps the most comprehensive in any FIM motorcycle racing series this year. How? Just see … Jeffrey Herlings (#84, NED) KTM 450 SX-F St. Jean d´ Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer Since the end of February 2018 MXGP has reached 18 rounds and 36 motos to-date. In that time and through heat, humidity, freezing cold, rain, hard-pack, sand, mud and all types of conditions #84 has: Won 15 rounds – equaling a record total of victories for one season Walked the podium 17 times (he missed the Grand Prix of Ottobiano with injury) Finished no lower than 2nd (twice) Finished no lower than 3rd in a moto, just once (first race of the Grand Prix of Russia) Claimed 29 chequered flags from a possible 34, 23 more than the next rider Led 397 of the total of 643 laps this year, 200 laps more than the next closest rider Only two other MXGP riders have won a moto or Grand Prix in 2018 He is currently in his longest winning streak in just his second season in the MXGP class with 7 consecutive successes. They have come in Indonesia (x2), Czech Republic, Belgium, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Turkey. He has also won in Argentina, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Latvia, Germany, Britain and France this year Herlings has led the championship at all but one Grand Prix in 2018 If he confirms the title by finishing 15th or higher (and if Tony Cairoli wins) in the first moto of the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix then he will have four career titles: the same amount as Harry Everts, Torsten Hallman and Heikki Mikkola He will be only the third rider to have both MX2 and MXGP FIM World Championship medals If Herlings wins the final two rounds of the season he’ll take his career win tally to 84 (he is already the third most successful motocrosser ever. Stefan Everts holds the record at 101 wins) Round 19 of 20 will take place in the sand of Assen for the fourth Grand Prix of the Netherlands and is to be staged by the famous Dutch Circuit. Herlings won the event in 2017. Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Pangkal Pinang (INA) 2018 © Ray Archer 15 wins, 17 podiums, 29 motos, 95-point lead: It almost makes the job look easy but Herlings is always quick to stress the amount of work, compromise and sacrifice that has gone into the scorecard. He also regularly credits the Red Bull KTM Team and perhaps their most crucial work was in refining the works KTM 450 SX-F so that by round five in Portugal Herlings was in frequent contention for Grand Prix holeshots. Aside from the scrutiny of battling and facing-off against teammate, reigning champ and nine times title winner Tony Cairoli, Herlings also had other hard moments. Prior to round eleven he sustained a multiple fracture to his right collarbone while training and missed the Grand Prix of Ottobiano. Less than three weeks after surgery he returned at the Grand Prix of Asia and hasn’t been toppled from the top of the podium since. Ottobiano and the dramatic loss of 50 points from the lead he’d been steadily building in the series was a stark reminder of the horrendous narrow margins between glory and disaster in MXGP and helped Herlings refocus. The rest has been written in the annals of the sport. Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Wayne Banks (AUS) KTM 450 SX-F St. Jean d´Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer Photos: Ray Archer
  25. KTM ADVENTURE RALLY: Relive the adventure KTM ADVENTURE RALLYs allow riders from all over the world to discover the true meaning of adventure. 6 rally, 6 countries: Australia, Italy, South Africa, USA, Canada and New Zealand. Each rally awaits the riders with diverse tests of character and skills. You have doubts whether this is the right adventure for you? We offer some insight. © C. Wood Three of the six rallys are already completed and leave the participants with unforgettable experiences, memories and new friends. Carrying on from the highly successful KTM ADVENTURE RALLYs in other countries, the European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY was held for the second time in 2018. At the end of June 150 hardcore KTM ADVENTURE riders descended on the island of Sardinia to enjoy the best adventure riding the northern Sardinian regions had to offer. Here is what the participants of this year´s European KTM ADVENTURE RALLY experienced during three days of riding on and offroad. [embedded content] Three KTM ADVENTURE RALLYs are still to come in 2018 before we launch the next adventure: the Ultimate Race. Photo: C. Wood Video: Luca Piffaretti/Filmer Force Productions
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