The link between the 52-year-old Fin and KTM began in fantastic style in 2012 when Red Bull KTM Ajo clinched the very first Moto3™ title with Sandro Cortese. Four years later and Ajo oversaw Brad Binder’s authoritative Moto3™Championship campaign. The South African is just one example of a raft of KTM MotoGP™ talent that has passed through Ajo’s structure where his experience, mentality and tutelage has provided a key development phase in some of the sport’s biggest names.
For the last ten seasons, the Ajo crew has been a fundamental component of the KTM GP Academy. From spotting and promoting young racing stars from series such as the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and FIM CEV Junior World Championship to teaching them the demands of Grand Prix racing in Moto3™ and then more education in Moto2™ – a category that Red Bull KTM Ajo have curated for the factory since 2017 – the path to the premier class has been clear, strong and effective. A prime example can be seen with both of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing MotoGP winners Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira who scaled the KTM GP Academy steps with Red Bull KTM Ajo.
The team has so far taken 39 victories and 83 podiums in Moto3™ since 2012. In Moto2™, they have achieved 21 wins and 57 rostrums. As well as the two Moto3™ titles, they helped Oliveira to Championship runner-up distinction in 2015 (Moto3™) and 2018 (Moto2™). Binder was also a Moto2™ world #2 in 2019 and until his vault into MotoGP™ last year.
To-date, the seven rounds of 2021 MotoGP have been superlative. Red Bull KTM Ajo have claimed four Moto3 races, with rookie Pedro Acosta and Jaume Masia posting their maiden spoils. Acosta currently leads the Moto3™standings. In Moto2™, the win rate is also four from seven with Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez finishing on the podium together in five of the Grands Prix thus far.
Aki Ajo, Team Principal, stated his delight at the renewal with the Austrian manufacturer: “We are really happy and thankful to maintain the cooperation with KTM in the upcoming years. This is already our tenth season together, therefore it feels like a natural yet great way to continue for at least five more years.
“The system we created together with KTM and Red Bull, starting in the Rookies Cup and continuing through Moto3 and Moto2, up to MotoGP, is quite unique in this paddock and it is working well. This kind of connection motivates us in our job, as we can work year-by-year with young talents, developing their skills and trying to educate them to progress in their career. We are looking forwards to continuing producing decent results in both Moto3 and Moto2.”
KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer also shared the same elation, commenting: “This new deal is really satisfying and a real no-brainer for us. Aki’s team is having a great season so far but for ten years now they have been a super-important part of our structure. We are very passionate about developing our own racing talent and we invest a lot on efforts for Red Bull MotoGP Rookies, NTC and Moto3 to do this.
“We feel it gives us a strong connection. It is how we want to go racing and we’re thrilled that we proved that it could work in the MotoGP paddock. Back in 2012 we were like a ‘guest’ here. We had a bike, an ambition and just a space in the back of Aki’s transporter; we didn’t even have our own truck! I’m happy and proud that Aki is a special part of a bigger effort that means we had more than 70 bikes on track at the Sachsenring. He helped us arrive in MotoGP and we just want to get even stronger.”