KTM has already made a strong start to the 2019 racing season. The self-styled “Orange Brigade” has already seen success at the Dakar, supercross, French beach racing and at national motocross championships across the globe. Now it’s the turn of the road racers.
The KTM race department decided to launch all of its MotoGP teams in one go, including the factory Red Bull KTM Factory MotoGP squad and the satellite Red Bull KTM Tech 3 team, both of which will be fielding a pair of RC16 GP machinery.
The factory team will once again see Pol Espargaro on an RC16, with former Moto2 World Champion and MotoGP race winner Johann Zarco joining him in what is arguably the squads most potent lineup to date.
Espargaro said, “We have a big target in front of us this year, and I think we are in the right place. Johann has integrated into the team well and already looks fast. It means that we are set for the season. I thought Miguel was very fast at the test and that was surprising for a rookie and I know Hafizh is working really hard.
“All the info the Tech3 guys can bring will be helpful for me, the team and all the engineers. I know, from my experience, that Tech3 are good for helping and teaching the riders, and also improving the bike. 2019 will be about improvement: nobody is perfect, and I learn something every year. I think with Johann as a teammate hopefully I can learn from him and apply it to myself to be a better rider and a better worker. I just want to give the best of myself in 2019 and the most I can to the team.”
Teammate Zarco went on to say, “I’m happy to be here, and this is my first factory team presentation! I discovered Mattighofen and the KTM factory for the first time in January, and I was very impressed. After a few tests now I am pleased: I feel that the people in the team trust me and it’s nice to feel that confidence.
“We’ve done some good work, so the motivation is high. Even when we make big improvements at a test, we still see that we have a lot to do and have steps to make. It helps to move forward. I believe in what we can do. I would say I am a fast rider so I can give good information and I am very proud to be part of this story in KTM.”
Red Bull KTM Tech 3 will run Malaysian wonder kid Hafizh Syahrin and Portuguese Moto2 star Miguel Olivera.
Syahrin said, “I’m really excited about the new livery. I think it’s truly different than everybody else on the track. We as Red Bull KTM Tech3 are one more team bringing some new colour to the circuit. I can’t wait to be on track with this bike in Qatar. It looks amazing, and I guess even more so under the floodlights in the desert. I’m very delighted about this look and can’t wait to get the season started!”
Olivera added, “I’m delighted with the new colours, the bike is amazing. The outlook of everything is just incredible, quite different from what we are used to. It’s such a nice project that KTM and Red Bull got together; to have two factory teams on the grid is something pretty unique and it shows clearly, that KTM soon wants to dominate also this class and road racing in general. I’m just really proud, and I feel privileged to be a part of this project.”
Tech 3 boss Hervé Poncharal concluded by saying, “It’s been great to show the world our definitive colours. I have seen them at the end of December. When Niki Ruhstorfer sent me the pictures for the first time, I couldn’t believe it, because this is such a cool bike, the colours are outstanding. They are not only brilliant but also look very technical. This metallic blue and metallic silver on the bike makes it look different, very elegant. Elegance is always essential for a French man, so I’m very proud to have such a stylish bike, team uniform and riders’ leathers. We saw it a little bit on the Toro Rosso Formula One team and always found it really beautiful, so to be close to these guys and this design, is incredible.
“For sure, the most important for a motorcycle racing bike is to be fast, and we are working on that. The test we had in Sepang a few days ago was exciting. But if the bike can be fast and good-looking, it’s a big bonus. Therefore, we are more than proud to have shown what our livery will finally be, and I can’t wait to see it under the floodlights in Qatar, because for sure it will look even more amazing. Hopefully, we can see these bikes with this livery in strong positions.”