Nine months after its initial rollout, the KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team returned to the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg Austria, to complete the ninth development test in what turned out to be ideal conditions. In addition to the team’s permanent test rider Mika Kallio (FIN), Tom Lüthi (SUI) also delivered an impressive performance on the second KTM RC16 riding with an almost complete field of MotoGP riders.
Before the MotoGP makes its return to Austria in the middle of August, these privately organised tests that included all but two teams saw riders familiarise themselves with the completely newly asphalted circuit. Teams also had the opportunity to work on setups for the race that takes place immediately after the three-week summer break. It was also the first real opportunity for KTM’s MotoGP Factory Racing Team to settle into the location before the project is introduced to the general public with demo laps and a press conference at its home Grand Prix.
Pit Beirer (Motorsports Director)
“Finally the day has arrived we can measure ourselves directly against our competitors and it was a great feeling. But in principle we are here to continue to improve and we can say clearly that everything is going according to plan. Naturally we’re somewhat slower than the absolute top guys at this point, but the difference is not dramatic and we can see where we have to improve. The fact that we already have our two factory riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro under contract for the next two years already makes me feel very confident lap time whise. We now have four further tests on the program before we ride with Mika Kallio as a wild card in the final race of the season in Valencia, which for us is also another milestone. He and the entire team have delivered a fantastic job in the past half year, and this has been reflected in the results of this test.”
Mike Leitner (Vice President Onroad)
“Fantastic that we’ve now really confirmed that we’re going in the right direction. The test was pure competition because naturally all the teams tried to find a good setup for the Grand Prix. At the end of the second day the times started to drop and this gave us our first real reference. And even though the way to the top will be even harder, on no account do we need to hide. There are many things to do but we know where the bar is set. If someone had told us before the test that we were three seconds behind, we would have taken it well. This achievement is even more praiseworthy in the class where they fight for every tenth of a second. This was an important step that is bound to guarantee that awareness is sharpened throughout the entire company.”
Sebastian Risse (Technical Director Onroad)
“This time we concentrated on three fundamental points. Lap times, how others manage electronics and tires plus normal settings and test work we have been able to do also in the past. Technically we didn’t make as many steps forward, but we made a lot of progress with the lap times. We moved between a deficit of between one and a half and two seconds on both days, which for me was actually less than expected. The next development step will be a big one and we will aim to cleanly integrate all of our experiences into a completely new bike. I hope that with this bike, and the continuous updates we’ll be better equipped for our wildcard entry into the last race of the season, and the subsequent IRTA test.”
Mika Kallio (Test Rider MotoGP)
“I think our performance was better than many expected and the distance between us and the others could have been greater. But we’ve delivered impressive work on the two test days and we notice that the other teams were to some extent also impressed. We didn’t have any technical problems and this meant we could reel off a lot of laps at a high level. Step by step we were able to put in faster laps over both days and on the second day we improved our times by a second over the first. This time the concentration was more on set-up and less on development and that made it easier for me to ride faster times, so my confidence improved lap for lap. With all the other riders on the circuit we clearly saw in which areas we still had to improve. This allowed me to follow some other riders and I understand what is now necessary.”
Tom Lüthi (Test Rider MotoGP)
“Thanks to my physiotherapist I was able to hold it all together as far as my physical condition is concerned. But also the track was new to me and compared to Mugello I had much more to work on the bike. I was gradually able to get used to it and to continually improve. I’m very happy with my performance. We made technical improvements regarding the fork and also the topic of the tires was naturally very interesting for me. Although I haven’t yet found the ideal combination where I can say I can now ride a half a second faster, the interplay between things like the wheelie control, traction control or torque power coming out of the slower corners is extremely interesting. Among other things, for me that means I have to improve before the next test in Misano, but as mentioned, my main focus is still on Moto2 where we recently messed up and want to catch up again.“
Alex Hofmann (Test Rider MotoGP)
“We have to be honest and say that in this short time we have made a perfect start to the MotoGP project. The laps I put in on the KTM RC16 on the morning of the second day were awesome. The motorcycle is absolutely on the right track. At the moment I see nothing that should put a stop to this. We can be really proud of this first comparison considering that the bike was only rolled out nine months ago. Riders, bikes and teams are working at 100% during the season so to be within two seconds deserves respect. And last but not least the difference to Yamaha and Honda is additionally impressive on what is obviously a Ducati circuit, and this perhaps also explains why a team was already not using a transponder.”
For the KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team the second half of the season starts with the public presentation of the project at the Home Grand Prix in the middle of August, before the test number 10 in Misano, directly followed by the next one in Spain.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.