Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have announced the departure of team boss Mike Leitner, following a disappointing end to the 2021 MotoGP™ World Championship. The Austrian has been a part of the orange marque's MotoGP™ efforts since they returned to the premier class back in 2015, but 2022 will see them restructure their hierarchy.
The 59-year-old will transition into a consultancy post. There's been no official word on his replacement, however, various media reports have linked current Pramac Racing boss Francesco Guidotti with the vacancy.
Leitner originally came into the KTM Race Department and helped construct the testing squad that began work on the KTM RC16 in 2015 and then the official Red Bull KTM MotoGP team that first took to the grid at the end of 2016 in Valencia.
Since 2017 he has been an important part of the KTM MotoGP race management and organisation that has produced five victories and 13 trophies in less than half a decade of Grand Prix competition. He was instrumental in delivering the company’s first podium as rider Pol Espargaro classified 3rd at the 2018 Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana. By 2020 he oversaw KTM’s maiden victory, scored by Brad Binder in the Czech Republic as well as further spoils by the South African in 2021 and the three triumphs marked by Miguel Oliveira in Austria, Portugal and Catalunya in the last two seasons.
Further milestones include Espargaro’s 5th place finish in the 2020 rider’s standings while Binder ranked 6th by the end of the recent 2021 campaign.
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: "Mike has been a key figure in our mission to fight against the best in the world of road racing. Together we created a MotoGP structure with the right staff and the right riders which achieved outstanding results at the pinnacle of the sport. We started building our RC16 and the whole plan from a blank piece of paper and under his guidance we put a great team together; one that took on the challenge of MotoGP. Now, after seven years together, we decided to reorganize our MotoGP leadership for the future, and I cannot express how much we want to thank him for all the work he put into this project. Mike pushed very hard to get us from the back of the grid to the front row and his dedication has played a major part in our success story."