With the recent announcement of Husqvarna’s Moto3™ entry, as well as Honda’s renewed technical assault on the championship, motogp.com caught up with KTM Head of Motorsport, Pit Beirer, to discuss the upcoming season.
Discussing the Husqvarna move, which will see both Danny Kent and Niklas Ajo line up on the machines for their respective teams run by Aki Ajo, Beirer was keen to point out that whilst both KTMs and Husqvarnas will start from the same base in 2014, they will certainly not be looking to follow the same path.
"We have the same group owning the brands [Pierer Industries], but as a mid-term outlook, they will be different brands with different development. But in the beginning we’ll have to start with what we have. The target is to give their own identity to each brand.
"We will see significant changes [to the Husqvarna] in the first year, but the biggest change I would say will come from model year one to two. Moto3™ has some tough rules, especially with the homologated engine, meaning we can’t change anything. But we will work on the surrounding parts."
As to whether he felt there was any risk of a Husqvarna overshadowing a KTM from the off, he commented: "There’s definitely the risk, and there will be a battle. They will be a different company, have their own marketing, etc. That’s the nature of development. Husqvarna will take an independent road."
Taking the KTM brand into account as well, there will be big changes in the Moto3™ class regulations next year, with only six engines allowed per rider, and engine allocation becoming a random process, so as to negate any favouritism with the ‘best’ equipment. Beirer sees this as an extremely positive move.
"It’s a very logical number of engines. I think all manufacturers are very prepared. We were already at this level at the end of the season. [The random engine allocation process] It’s the best thing Dorna and IRTA did for KTM. We had committed to that before with contracts, and proof was Viñales winning with a customer machine. But this rule ensures that we are out of this 'discussion'."
As far as development of the KTM goes this season, Beirer states that the third year of competing is likely to see only minor, yet significant developments.
"We took a risk with the steel trellis frame concept and WP suspension, and with our team and manufacturing in Austria, have been able to react very quickly to develop the chassis. In this third year there will some modifications in the detail, and we’ll have the bike how we want it.
"The big challenge is preparing for 2015, when the 13,500rpm rev limit is imposed. This is the bigger challenge, and we have to get the engineers back round the table to prepare for it."
With news having already broken and the first test laps done of the new Honda Moto3™ challenger, which is set to take the fight to the KTMs in 2014, Beirer said he welcomed the chance of improved competition.
"We’re not concerned. We were surprised we dominated and were not really prepared for this. From the start it was clear we’d fight against a strong Honda – and we need a strong Honda in Moto3™! Maybe there will be closer and nicer racing next year between the brands."