MotoGP 2019 – Rnd 11 – Red Bull Ring, Austria
myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich
The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg brings the series into the realm of passionate KTM fandom with packed and dedicated spectator zones, all of whom will be cheering the Red Bull KTM crews in the midst of another season of achievement and landmarks. Almost 93,000 visitors lined the green slopes on race day in 2018.
KTM continue to go their own way in regards to the chassis and suspension on their MotoGP project. While every other team on the grid use Ohlins suspension, and thus have a massive amount of data to draw on from almost the entire MotoGP grid at every event, KTM use their own WP suspension.
Also going against the established grain in regards to MotoGP, and modern sportsbikes in general, KTM also continue with their trademark orange painted steel trellis frame.
For the first time on home turf near their Austrian HQ at Mattighofen, KTM will have a quartet of RC16s on the MotoGP grid, and the full scope of the factory’s ‘ladder’ through road racing will be evident again with the fifth round of seven of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup kicking off proceedings with the very first race of the weekend on Saturday evening.
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director
“Our home Grand Prix is something we really look forward to every year. Of course it comes with expectancy and enthusiasm but it is one of the best chances to show – and to reward – all the KTM people that have worked for this project that spreads through all the factory. We like to think that we’ve given Austrian fans something to be proud of and seeing that big grandstand full of orange is special. We have pushed hard to establish a structure that we hope will produce some very good results and positive benefits for KTM in road racing and will soon near the success we’ve had in so many other areas of our racing programme. Red Bull Ring is a great place when it is full and you can hear and see those bikes at top speed. We hope everyone has a great time.”
In the premier class KTM have enjoyed another campaign of milestones since ending only their second term in MotoGP with a maiden podium result at Valencia last November. Pol Espargaro – third that day at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit – has qualified on the second row of the grid on two occasions (Circuit of the Americas and Automotodrom Brno), achieved a best race classification of 6th at Le Mans and registered five top ten results (as well as points in every round).
“It’s been a pretty good year, for the moment I think we’ve done good races and qualifying, been in the top ten a lot of times and we’ve been in top positions a few times in qualifying and practice sessions. We’re developing the KTM quite well, getting into good positions and having fun in the races, and now we’re at our home GP which is so important and so nice. Last year I couldn’t race here, it was very frustrating waiting for that race the whole year and then having that huge crash just the race before, being in hospital watching the guys. So finally we’ll be there and with the KTM fans, I’m so happy to be there and try and do the best race possible, hopefully the best race of the season which is going to be difficult…but we’ll try!”
Team-mate Johann Zarco has spent the season trying to adapt his style and mould the idiosyncrasies of the RC16 to his liking but is making progress – as evidenced by his mastery of damp conditions to clock Red Bull KTM’s first front row qualification slot with 3rd at Automotodrom Brno last weekend. The Frenchman has accumulated points in all but two Grands Prix.
“I’m feeling happy at the moment, it’s always nice to come here to the factory. As a rider and loving the mechanical side of it, it’s always nice. And it gives you some extra motivation, because when you see this place and everyone working here, you feel maybe it’s possible to do even better. So I’m feeling good and I cross my fingers we’ll have a good weekend.”
The alignment with Red Bull KTM Tech3 in 2019 has been a fundamental part of the firm’s progression at the peak of the sport. The laps and effort totalled by Miguel Oliveira (the rookie impressing with his pace and dedication) and Hafizh Syahrin has added valuable data and understanding of the finer margins in MotoGP: a competition regularly split by hundredths of a second. Oliveira has pointed in six of the first ten fixtures of the year and along with the full contingent of KTM MotoGP riders the Portuguese rookie and his Malaysian team-mate visitied the nearby KTM HQ at Mattighofen ahead of this weekend’s race.
“I’m super excited, it’s a home GP for us with KTM and Red Bull, all the bosses are going to be there! It’s definitely a nice moment in the project to put in a good result for them, we have a good army of orange KTMs up there on the grid and hopefully we’ll have a strong weekend.”
“This is the second time I’ve been here, the first time was at the beginning of the season in winter, it was too cold and driving out it was full of snow! It’s great coming somewhere like here, we’ve done a lot with the other riders and I’ve enjoyed it. And we’ve seen how they make the bikes. I drove the truck out the factory and it was an amazing experience.”
When it comes the other categories, Aron Canet leads the ever-unpredictable Moto3 contest on his RC4 while Red Bull KTM Ajo will again field the exciting and evolving talent of the Öncü twins. In Moto2 the same prolific team will give the new version of the RC12 its second run out in 2019 around the Austrian curves and in the capable hands of former Moto3 World Champions Brad Binder and Jorge Martin.
“It was super cool. It’s my fourth trip to the factory this year but it’s the first time I’ve really had to do anything! It was cool to see how everything works. So thanks to the guys for having us – or putting up with us – today! This is a big weekend for us, a huge weekend for the team, KTM and Red Bull, so obviously I want to get a great result for the guys. We’ve done a lot of hard work this year and they really deserve it, so looking into the weekend I hope to make it my best of the season so far.”
MotoGP 2019 Championship Standings