KTM “trusted” its MotoGP talent system “a year earlier than we wanted”

KTM’s Pit Beirer says Pol Espargaro’s factory team departure at the end of the 2020 MotoGP season forced it to promote its own talent “one year earlier than we wanted”. 

KTM “trusted” its MotoGP talent system “a year earlier than we wanted”

Espargaro joined KTM for its debut season back in 2017 and was instrumental in the development of the RC16 into a race-winning package in MotoGP. 

He signed for Honda for the 2021 season before racing got underway in 2020, with KTM motorsport boss Beirer noting the marque looked at “other big names” to replace him.

In the end, it elected to retain Brad Binder – who had yet to make his MotoGP debut in 2020 – and promote Miguel Oliveira from Tech3 for 2021, both riders having come from Red Bull Rookies Cup on KTMs through Moto3 and Moto2 with the marque into MotoGP. 

In an exclusive interview with Autosport, Beirer revealed KTM’s decision to forgo a big MotoGP name at its factory team for its own young talent came a year earlier than it had planned but is “so happy we did”.

“We had so many ups and downs together but [a moment] never arrived where they were doubting us, or we were never doubting these two boys,” Beirer said. 

“When we lost Pol we were looking at other big names, and then we said ‘You know what? We’ll stick now to our own programme’, which is Rookies Cup together, Moto3 together, Moto2 together and then that’s how you go into MotoGP with KTM. 

“I think we trusted our own system one year earlier than we wanted in the beginning, and I’m so happy we did it.”

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Binder and Oliveira won three races for KTM in 2020, but 2021 started off in difficult fashion as the RC16 hadn’t progressed as much as its rivals’ bikes over the winter.

For the first five races Oliveira failed to make it into the top 10 in races, while Binder’s best was a fifth in Portugal from 15th on the grid. 

A new chassis brought to the Italian Grand Prix transformed KTM’s form, however, with Oliveira scoring second at Mugello, winning at Barcelona and finishing second again in Germany, while was fourth at the Sachsenring. 

Beirer praised both riders during its tough start for 2021 for not ‘going crazy’ and trusting in the factory to turn things around. 

“In these difficult days they don’t go crazy, they don’t talk immediately to another team or another manufacturer,” he added.

“They trust us. If we tell them we’re not happy and we will work on it, we believe them. 

“But they stayed calm in this moment and that helped us a lot.

“If the riders start to go crazy and nervous, for sure it makes it even more difficult. 

“I’m so happy we have these super-cool guys and we worked on different major parts on the bike, brought them as a package – I don’t know if it was one tenths, two tenths, three tenths, some kilometres of top speed, which is also quite nice. 

Read Also:

“We brought that, but the riders brought more than this.

“They got a better feeling and with that they grew again, and it’s incredible what they brought to the table after we made a step.

“That shows what’s the characters of a team: only a team can win at the end, but we are nothing without fantastic riders.

“The real measure point is the rider on the race track.”

shares
comments

Related video

Quartararo: Taking Rossi's MotoGP place at Yamaha a "huge responsibility"
Previous article

Quartararo: Taking Rossi's MotoGP place at Yamaha a "huge responsibility"

Next article

Why it's not unreasonable for Rossi to race on in MotoGP with VR46 in 2022

Why it's not unreasonable for Rossi to race on in MotoGP with VR46 in 2022
The signs Quartararo’s 2022 MotoGP title is slipping away from him Plus

The signs Quartararo’s 2022 MotoGP title is slipping away from him

Prior to the summer break, the 2022 MotoGP title looked like it was Fabio Quartararo’s to lose. But a crash at Assen and the consequential penalty he had to serve last weekend at Silverstone stopped him from capitalising on a main rival’s injury woes, while a resurgence from another, plus the rise of a former team-mate, look set to conspire against the Yamaha rider

MotoGP
Aug 8, 2022
Why Marquez’s toughest MotoGP foe is stopping at the right time Plus

Why Marquez’s toughest MotoGP foe is stopping at the right time

On the eve of the British Grand Prix, Andrea Dovizioso announced that he will be retiring from MotoGP after September’s San Marino GP. The timing of his departure raised eyebrows, but his reasoning remains sensible and what has happened this year should not diminish a hard-built legacy

MotoGP
Aug 6, 2022
Why a Suzuki refugee feels he deserves MotoGP's toughest challenge Plus

Why a Suzuki refugee feels he deserves MotoGP's toughest challenge

Alex Rins’ MotoGP future was plunged into sudden doubt when Suzuki elected to quit the series at the end of 2022. Securing a deal with Honda to join LCR, he will now tread a path that many have fallen off from. But it was a move he felt his status deserved, and it’s a challenge – he tells Autosport - he faces with his eyes wide open…

MotoGP
Jul 27, 2022
How Formula 1 has driven MotoGP's changing nature Plus

How Formula 1 has driven MotoGP's changing nature

The hiring of technicians from Formula 1 has clearly contributed to a recent change in the MotoGP landscape, with the role of engineers gaining greater significance relative to the riders. Here's how this shift has come about

MotoGP
Jul 19, 2022
The revolution behind Aprilia's rise from MotoGP tail-ender to pack-leader Plus

The revolution behind Aprilia's rise from MotoGP tail-ender to pack-leader

Coinciding with the arrival of Massimo Rivola as head of its MotoGP division, Aprilia has undergone an internal revolution that has spurred it from occupying last place in the team standings to leading the table in the space of just two years. Those entrenched in the project reveal how the ex-Ferrari F1 chief has achieved the dramatic turnaround

MotoGP
Jul 15, 2022
The battle Yamaha's wayward son is fighting to be fast again in MotoGP Plus

The battle Yamaha's wayward son is fighting to be fast again in MotoGP

Franco Morbidelli was long overdue a promotion to factory machinery when it finally came late last year, having finished runner-up in the 2020 standings on an old Yamaha package. But since then the Italian has been a shadow of his former self as he toils to adapt to the 2022 M1, and recognises that he needs to change his style to be quick on it

MotoGP
Jul 13, 2022
Why Honda and Yamaha have been left behind in MotoGP's new era Plus

Why Honda and Yamaha have been left behind in MotoGP's new era

The once all-conquering Japanese manufacturers are going through a difficult period in MotoGP this season. With Suzuki quitting, Honda struggling to get near the podium and Yamaha only enjoying success courtesy of Fabio Quartararo, Japanese manufacturers have been left in the dust by their European counterparts. Key paddock figures explain why.

MotoGP
Jun 28, 2022
Who is Valentino Rossi’s newest MotoGP star? Plus

Who is Valentino Rossi’s newest MotoGP star?

Valentino Rossi’s protégés stole the show at Assen as Francesco Bagnaia stormed to victory to arrest a recent barren run. But it was the rider in second, on Bagnaia’s old bike, who had all eyes on him. Securing his and the VR46 team’s first MotoGP podium, Marco Bezzecchi has all the characteristics that made his mentor special

MotoGP
Jun 27, 2022