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The ex-rider factor: Harald Bartol

The ex-rider factor: Harald Bartol

Considered as one of the last two-stroke gurus, Harald Bartol is more known for his engineering achievements than for his riding prowess.

Considered as one of the last two-stroke gurus, Harald Bartol is more known for his engineering achievements than for his riding prowess. However the Austrian enjoyed moderate success racing as a privateer from 1970 to 1980 in various classes, making 56 GP appearances. Even though he didn´t consider himself to be a ´real´ rider, he was able to take 12 podiums in the 125cc class while sharing his passion for motorcycle racing between the track and the garage.

Back then he enjoyed taking risks on the technical side, even if it meant his machinery would fail on him and hamper his results. Nevertheless his perseverance paid off and he gained the faith of many privateers. In 1976, he powered Irish star Tom Herron and got involved in various series, working with world champion Rolf Steinhausen, IOM TT Lightweight hero Charlie Williams and also Johnny Cecotto, before the Venezuelan´s famous switch to four-wheel racing in the early 1980s.

Bartol worked for various teams until he joined Yamaha in 1990 to look after Juan Garriga´s 500cc and Alberto Puig´s 250cc. He was also involved in the short-lived 250cc Gilera project from 1993 to 1994 before going back to Yamaha, working on the Japanese firm´s two-stroke GP machines; he then met Japanese rider Youichi Ui, who would follow him to Derbi Racing Development in 1999. The machine he developed for DRD would eventually allow Manuel Poggiali, under the Gilera livery, to take his first title in 2001 after an intense battle with Ui.

In 2003 Bartol undertook a new challenge, joining KTM as the Austrian manufacturer launched its road racing effort, after establishing itself as a leading player on the off-road scene. Under Bartol´s direction, KTM quickly rose to the level of title challengers in the 125cc class and then doubled up their effort by entering the 250cc class. With KTM now also involved in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup, Bartol is a key figure in the MotoGP paddock, over 30 years after he began to design his own GP machines.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2007

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