The arrival of Johann Zarco forces KTM to work very hard. The Austrian manufacturer is facing its second season in MotoGP and since RC16 is still not competitive enough, they’re working very hard to give a great machine to Zarco, who will test it at Valencia after the final 2018 round.
RIDERS – In few days KTM signed even three riders for the next season and this represented a big shock for the whole paddock. After signing Zarco and confirming Pol Espargarò, the manufacturer based in Mattighofen signed also Miguel Oliveira and now there’s just a seat left: the second one in Tech3, new KTM satellite team. A strategic move, whose purpose is to make Bradley Smith push harder and to attract some more sponsors, which could invest especially on one rider. For sure it will be a young rising star, because KTM’s goal is to raise young riders and to follow them from Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup till MotoGP.
2019 BIKE – At Jerez we saw on the track a new version of RC16, which could partly represent the bike for 2019. Who rode it during the race weekend is Mika Kallio and then Espargarò and Smith tested it during IRTA official tests, when they improved their laptimes by about one second. The main update concerns the V4 engine and consists in a new counter-rotating crankshaft, which should allow a better control of the front and reduce the risk of wheelie. Small updates that need the help of electronics to turn big. The new engine may debut already at Austrian GP, but it’s not sure yet. 2019 KTM, tested by Mika Kallio, is something totally different and includes also a new fork and a new chassis, so it will be very hard to see it already this year. KTM dones’t want to turn 2018 season into a never-ending test, as it has happened so far.
NO MORE AERODYNAMICS – KTM wants aerodynamics to be banned from MotoGP, because further developments in it may lead to an increase of costs. “We think we’re going in the wrong direction” said Team Manager Mike Leitner. “We find it interesting that Marquez won the title in 2017 without arerodynamics and also the fact Dovizioso did not use it as well. Moreover, in 2016 Dani Pedrosa won a GP without wings”. MSMA (Motorcycle Sport Manufacturers Association) seems to agree, but it’s still necessary the approval of all MotoGP teams.
ZARCO’S MOTIVATION – KTM must make a step forward in order not to disappoint Johann Zarco. “I don’t want to ruin his career by taking his level down to ours. I want to raise our level to his”, said Pit Beirer to Crash.net. The French rider and his manager Laurent Fellon strongly believe in the project and the package provided by KTM, in spire of the difficult start of 2018. Fellon, interviewed by ‘Moto Journal’, sees a future full of wins: “Next year Zarco will score many podiums, or even wins. He will surprise everyone! And in 2020 he may be the World Champion… KTM has won the title everywhere, we should not forget it”. Zarco preferred not to join Honda, since it would have been tough to share the pits with Marc Marquez. It would have been difficult to bear the pressure and score great results, in those conditions. To Fellon KTM represents something more than just an option: “Austrians work hard and I really like their determination and rigour. I strongly believe in them… Zarco will be the one to beat and I’m sure he will be MotoGP World Champion with KTM”.