KTM targets satellite MotoGP squad for 2018

KTM has indicated it is aiming to supply bikes to a satellite team for the 2018 MotoGP season.

KTM targets satellite MotoGP squad for 2018
Bradley Smith, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing RC16
Stefan Pierer, KTM boss
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders
Bradley Smith, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Andrea Iannone, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

The Austrian marque is making its full-time debut in the premier class this year, and revealed its RC16 bike in full 2017 livery on Monday in a launch event at its Mattighofen base.

There, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer said that his company has already agreed to supply machinery to another team in only its second year of MotoGP competition.

The latest agreement between series promoter Dorna and the sport’s manufacturers aims for a 24-bike grid made up of six brands, each running two works and two satellite bikes.

However, Suzuki and Aprilia only currently field their own works machines, while Ducati supplies eight of the 23 bikes on this year’s grid.

“We are focusing on the factory team in the first year,” said Pierer.

“We have a five-year contract with Dorna, we already have agreed that in the second year we are also providing material and bikes for a private team. That’s the plan for the next two for years.

"I think the priority is to get ready with the factory team and to get ready for providing [bikes] to a second team.”

Suzuki progress the “benchmark”

KTM riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith finished the most recent pre-season test at Phillip Island strongly, with the former ending up only 1.3 seconds off the pace on the final day.

Describing the test as “motivating”, Pierer said he regards Suzuki’s progress since its MotoGP comeback in 2015 as the “benchmark” for KTM’s own advancement.

“I’m always telling my colleagues, as a benchmark, Suzuki has done a great job,” continued Pierer. “That’s basically the benchmark.

“The first tests for us were difficult, because we were testing different set-ups. We don’t have a platform like the others.

"But it’s going very well, and Phillip Island was very motivating that we are in the right direction.

“In the Dakar it took seven years [to become a winning team]. Throughout these [first] three years we want to come close to the podium and touch the podium.”

Additional reporting by Toni Boerner

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