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Bartol assesses 2007 KTM start

Bartol assesses 2007 KTM start

It has not quite been the start to the 2007 season which Red Bull KTM would have wanted, with technical problems and crashes restricting chances of gaining points.

It has not quite been the start to the 2007 season which Red Bull KTM would have wanted, with technical problems and crashes restricting chances of gaining points.

The opening two rounds in Qatar and southern Spain have provided the team's Technical Director Harald Bartol which much to mull over before this weekend's Grand Prix of Turkey.

KTM's 250cc Japanese rider Hiroshi Aoyama crashed and injured himself in Qatar, but came back bravely to earn 10 points by crossing the finishing line sixth in Spain, whilst his compatriot and fellow KTM rider Tomoyoshi Koyama, who rides in the 125cc class, managed sixth place at Losail but then crashed out and retired in Jerez.

Observers expect Aoyama to push for regular victories this season, while Koyama should be aiming for podium finishes, so Bartol will be looking for more from his Japanese pair as the respective World Championships progress.

Meanwhile Aoyama's quarter litre class colleague Mika Kallio would be earning more points if he had not been hampered by the technical problems which have prevented him from finishing a race so far.

Of the Finnish riders' mechanical failures Bartol revealed: "We have tried to analyse what happened as thoroughly as possible, and found out that it was a combination of bad luck and other factors. The broken piston ring that caused Kallio's bike to seize in Qatar was not a supply problem but a machining one, which had to do with our time restraints."

"The only bad luck was the fact that this piston ring broke at that particular moment. As far as the broken gear sprocket on Kallio's bike in Jerez goes, it turned out that we somehow reached the limit of what our current material can take. For the future, we have to think how to strengthen certain parts."

The Red Bull KTM 125 was the fastest bike on the track in Jerez, but the set-up of its 250cc counterpart is still giving Bartol's staff plenty to think about. The Austrian manager explained: "So far, we have concentrated all of our efforts with the 250 on rideability. We are also working on new performance parts, but we will only introduce them for the race in Shanghai."

"If everything works out the way we hope, then our 250 will be clearly faster than it is now. But we also have to be careful: There is some homework left for us to do with the balance shaft, and all in all, the mechanical system of the 250 is much more complicated than the 125."

Indeed at the first Grand Prix in Qatar, Aprilia's 125s were also quicker and only at the second race in Jerez did the Red Bull KTM 125 begin to show it's potential, something which did not surprise Bartol:

"I didn't expect anything else. I wouldn't have understood where Aprilia's big advantage came from, despite their new system with the rotary valve now sitting behind the cylinder. Alvaro Bautista created big hopes for Aprilia when he dominated the field with this new bike in the final race last season. But it was he as a rider that was superior, not the bike. Guys like Mattia Pasini would now have more chances to fight for race wins and the title if they were, like Gabor Talmacsi, on Aprilia's old 125cc version. The new rotary valve system is still full of technical problems. It's just too new yet."

"Having said that, I don't want to hide the fact that Aprilia's overall package is currently better than ours. The bike is easier to ride and easier to set up. We had different priorities last winter and now we have to catch up in this area."

Despite the team's problems, American Steve Bonsey is earning praise in the single cylinder category. Bonsey has thus far demonstrated steady progress - winning his first points in Jerez after gaining crucial road racing experience in the opening round - of which Bartol opined:

"He is still learning, but he is learning fast. I really believe in this guy. He has the attitude of a true racer, and he's got a lot of dirt track racing experience. It's obvious that he can't acquire road racing skills over night, but it is only a matter of time until he develops the feeling for Grand Prix racing. I am sure that we will hear a lot more from Steve as the season goes on."

125cc, 2007

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