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Year zero: KTM’s debut season in MotoGP™

From the back to the top ten, Q2, and some serious pace, it’s been quite a year for the Austrian factory after joining the grid

Beginning from zero is never easy, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that looking at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s first season in MotoGP™ - from the outside. From the inside, the work has been tireless and the pace of development frenetic as Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and test rider Mika Kallio have all shown more and more what the ‘Bull’ is capable of. From the beginning of the season when the gap to the front was anything between 30 and over 50 seconds, they've now narrowed that to a best of 14 seconds. Here are some highlights from the journey so far.

It began at Valencia for Espargaro and Smith, in November 2016. Following a wildcard for Kallio in the race, testing allowed the two new factory riders to get on board for the first time.

Espargaro looking forward to KTM challenge

And even before the ‘Bull’ took on its first race, put the RC16 under the spotlight.

Tech Talk: KTM’s first day at school

Then it was time for Espargaro and Smith to head out on track and race for the first time, at Qatar. Coming home 16th and 17th, the rider from Granollers spoke about KTM’s ambitions thereafter.

Pol: "KTM want to win the title in 3 years"

No points first time out was soon turned around. In Argentina, both riders scored – with Espargaro crossing the line 14th to head Smith home.

Development throughout the year has been both frantic and effective. Here are some of the biggest changes to the RC16, in 3D.

KTM’s Evolution in 2017

KTM’s best result so far has been ninth. That came first at Brno with a difference of just over 30 seconds between Pol Espargaro and winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). But Aragon was the biggest turning point in the dry as Espargaro took tenth with, this time, a gap of only 14.075 seconds to winner Marquez. And the reigning Champion did not take it so easy at the front!  

"I'm very proud of the team. Our first top ten! We were fast in the dry and the wet, and I felt strong in the race." Pol Espargaro following the #CzechGP

Bradley Smith spoke to about season following the Austrian GP – home race for both the factory and title sponsor Red Bull, saying some races remain like testing. Since then, the Brit has also made it into the top ten.

Smith: "Some races are more like testing"

Test rider Mika Kallio has also taken some points and top results for KTM. The Finnish rider was top KTM at home at the Red Bull Ring in tenth, and went straight through to Q2 at Aragon – coming home in P11.

After more progress throughout the flyways despite the incredibly challenging weather – including a stunning sixth place on the grid for Espargaro at Phillip Island - it’s now time for the final round of KTM’s first season, where they debuted a year ago with the aim of finishing the race and now set their sights on the top ten and Q2.