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Tech 3: A satellite team can win 2021 MotoGP title

Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal believes a satellite team can win the 2021 MotoGP world championship given the amount of factory support on offer now. 

Bikes of Danilo Petrucci, Red Bull KTM Tech 3 and Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3

Bikes of Danilo Petrucci, Red Bull KTM Tech 3 and Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3

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Eight of 2020’s 14 grands prix were won by riders at satellite teams, with Fabio Quartararo and Petronas SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli responsible for three each, while Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira won twice. 

Both Oliveria and Quartararo were riding factory-supported machinery, while Morbidelli was on what Yamaha dubs its ‘A-spec’ M1 – which is essentially a 2019 bike - and finished runner-up to Suzuki’s Joan Mir in the championship.

In 2021, all satellite team riders but the Avintia duo and Morbidelli will be on factory-supported current-spec machinery

When asked during KTM’s official team launch day if a satellite team could win the championship in 2021, Poncharal responded: “Honestly, yes. Almost all satellite teams have equal machinery [to the factory teams], equal support, equal development speed. 

“We could see last year – with all respect to our factory team – we won more races than them.

“If you look at what happened in Jerez 2 and Spielberg 1, we could have been very close to maybe the best-placed KTM in the championship.

“If you look at Yamaha, clearly the independent team [SRT] in 2020 was the leading Yamaha team. 

“So, I think an independent team has the possibility on paper to win races, we could see that last year, and to win the championship I’m pretty sure. 

“I really believe an independent team can win the championship thanks to the technical rules, thanks to the riders we have, thanks to the manufacturers we have who believe in their satellite operations.” 

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Oliveira’s wins in 2020 were the first for the Tech 3 squad in MotoGP, but Poncharal admits coming into the new campaign as grand prix victors doesn’t change how the team approaches the season. 

“Honestly, it doesn’t change too much,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com if Tech 3’s approach to 2021 was different as race winners.

“I think 2020 was a great championship in general, was a great championship for KTM, for Tech 3. But we start from scratch.

"The grid is incredibly competitive, bikes, riders, and very clever he who can say who is going to win round one and very clever he who can say who will be world champion in 2021.

“I think it’s very open, almost anybody on the grid can win races and quite a few can win the championship.” 

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