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With the beginning of the 2021 MotoGP™ World Championship just around the corner, motogp.com sat down with Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s boss Hervé Poncharal, where he outlined his intentions for the season ahead. It has been a winter of upheaval for the French outfit, with changes behind the scenes as well as new riders assuring that they will have a fresh look about them this year.
In 2020, Miguel Oliveira delivered a first-ever premier class victory for the Tech 3 stable at KTM’s home track in the Styrian GP, while he also followed that up with a win in Portimao at the season finale. However, the Portuguese rider has made the move to Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, and they decided to replace one race winner with another, as Danilo Petrucci comes in to partner sophomore Iker Lecuona.
UNSEEN: Oliveira and Tech3 celebrate a Sunday to remember
Chief Engineer Guy Coulon also left during the off-season and he too has been replaced, by Sergio Verbena, and while saddened by their departures, Poncharal is full of optimism for what is to come.
"The fact that Guy resigned his position within our facility is the end of an era," said Poncharal.
“We have been working together since 1983 and before founding Tech3 we were also in Honda France and Rothmans. In any case, he will be present to help us and will go to the first tests to supervise the new team.”
“Verbena is a person that we have already met when he was the interface between the two teams. After that, he won a race with Brad Binder in Brno, proof that he knows all the inner workings very well. In addition, he is Italian and has worked alongside Danilo Petrucci in the past. In other words, I think it should take quite easily!”
Speaking about his relationship with KTM, Poncharal was delighted by some of the performances last season and hopes that it will lead to a bright future between the French team and Austrian manufacturer.
“We are entering the third year of collaboration and we have been able to see that our bike was in the top positions indeed, even a winner. The Oliveira - Coulon - RC16 trio turned out to be excellent. They had the hat-trick, the best that can be had in a GP with pole, a lap record and top step on the podium.”
“The contract with the house ends this season, but the desire for renewal is great; I can hardly imagine a different scenario. We are under discussion but I hope we can sign as soon as possible.”
“To be honest, there is no reason to change a team where all the players work in perfect harmony because for me success is also the result of continuity. I think they are very happy to have four motorcycles on the grid and relatively satisfied with the results we obtained in 2020.”
It’s still dark... but we will lighten up your imagination in just a few days ⌛️— Tech3 Racing (@Tech3Racing) February 9, 2021
???????????????? this Friday at 10:00 CET ????????#KTM #Tech3 #MotoGP #TeamPresentation #SaveTheDate #12February #KTMTech3FactoryRacing #DP9 #IL27 @MotoGP pic.twitter.com/x023jiIai6
Following a breakthrough year, MotoGP™ fans are keen to see if the KTMs can build on their development and challenge regularly in Grand Prix, something which Poncharal is hopeful of.
"Do as well as in 2020?! We won two races, that's no small feat. Now, we know expectations are raised so we will be careful not to boast. At KTM alone, there is likely to be a certain emulation as everyone has something to prove. Newcomer Danilo Petrucci has said he will do everything to be at the level of the two factory drivers, if not ahead of them.”
“It would be nice if he could win at least one race so he could build on his 2019/20 momentum. Iker, meanwhile, will no longer be a rookie. He was keen to show his progress over the latest events, unfortunately, Covid got involved. However, he trained a lot this winter, having fully appreciated the demands of MotoGP™. Brad Binder won in his first year, Miguel in his second, so I hope Iker will repeat that type of performance.”
“You have to be ambitious, especially when you have the machine and the technical support to do it. There is no reason they can't! It's up to us to keep moving forward and to fight at the forefront.”
How is the bike going to look in 2021? Well, there may be a few changes according to Poncharal, as he explains it will be more in line, in terms of livery, with the official KTM and that there is a lot of enthusiasm for the presentation of the 2021 line-up.
“Our colours, radically different in MotoGP™, will be unveiled to you this Friday. Obviously, we will always keep a close link with Red Bull, but our look will be more in line with KTM. That Stefan Pierer and Hubert Trunkenpolz place their trust in us is indeed a great source of pride and a great responsibility. We are nevertheless ready to fully endorse it. Anyway, I know they are very excited to present their 2021 line-up and especially the Tech3 KTM Factory Team livery! "
The new KTMs will be presented on Friday 12 February and it can be watched live on motogp.com at 10 am (CET).
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