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KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer believes the Austrian outfit can challenge almost immediately, saying results from last fortnight’s test prove that “they can be strong”.
Speaking to Simon Crafar in pitlane during the opening free practice session of the VisitQatar Grand Prix, Beirer admitted he’s pleased with the speed Frenchman Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) has shown on his debut outing for the factory, despite hoping he would’ve adapted slightly quicker.
3 years of KTM in MotoGP™
“It’s been a lot of work to get to this level and have four riders on the grid”, commented Beirer on the introduction of the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 squad.
“The work to become bigger is done. We also need to focus on becoming faster. That is why we’re here to race. Let me touch wood, because so far everyone is healthy. With four guys there is no rest for the technical guys but it’s exciting.”
Beirer is hoping Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) can continue where he left off, after earning KTM their first podium finish in the final race of the 2018 season: “We’re with Pol who knows the bike best. We saw from the test two weeks ago that we can be strong here in Qatar. We are a little surprised because we see Pol get better and better and adapt to the bike. He asks for something, we give it to him and he look better again, so that’s running perfect.
“I don’t want to lie, we expected an easier swap for Johann on to our bike but he’s struggling, so it looks like it’s proven that you need to ride a KTM different to other bikes and Johann needs to adapt to our bike. At the moment he’s riding with a decent speed but we’re not there yet.
“It’s the beginning and if we show with Pol how high we can lift the level, I think it’s easier to bring the other bikes there then none of them to be there. So, I’m really happy to see Pol improving a lot.”
First look: KTM colours on track in Qatar
“It’s the same thing in the Tech 3 garage. Hafizh comes from a strong MotoGP bike and he’s struggling to adapt to our bike,” said Beirer on the Malaysian’s swap from Yamaha to KTM machinery.
“Whereas I see Miguel doing a fantastic job coming from a Moto2 bike. He has showed us already some really good highlights. It looks like if you come neutral to the bike and develop a riding style for it, things can go well. But you definitely can’t ride it like a Yamaha for example.”
2 years ago