In Mattighofen, Austria, on Tuesday 12th February, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Red Bull KTM Tech 3 and Red Bull KTM Ajo launched their 2019 machines.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are heading into their third season of premier class competition with Pol Espargaro being joined by Johann Zarco for 2019, as the Austrian factory continue to bridge the gap to the sharp end of the grid. And helping them to do so is two more RC16s on the MotoGP™ grid in the shape of Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Hafizh Syahrin and rookie Miguel Oliveira.
For Red Bull KTM Ajo, the Moto2™ and Moto3™ titles will be the aim. Brad Binder is joined by reigning Moto3™ World Champion Jorge Martin in the intermediate class, while the youngest ever Grand Prix winner Can Oncu will be aiming to use his 2018 Valencia GP as a springboard for a stellar year in the lightweight class for the team.
Red Bull KTM Tech 3 will also lineup in the intermediate class, with two rookies aiming to make their mark on the Moto2™ World Championship: Phillip Oettl and Marco Bezzecchi.
Espargaro: “We have a big target in front of us this year and I think we are in a good place. Johann has integrated into the team well and already looks fast. It means that we are set for the season. I thought Miguel was very fast at the test and that was surprising for a rookie and I know Hafizh is working really hard. All the info the Tech3 guys can bring will be helpful for me, the team and all the engineers. I know, from my experience, that Tech3 are good for helping and teaching the riders, and also improving the bike. 2019 will be about improvement: nobody is perfect and I learn something every year. I think with Johann as a teammate hopefully I can learn from him and apply it to myself to be a better rider and a better worker. I just want to give the best of myself in 2019 and the most I can to the team.”
Zarco: “I’m happy to be here, and this is my first factory team presentation! I discovered Mattighofen and the KTM factory for the first time in January and I was very impressed. After a few tests now I am very happy: I feel that the people in the team trust me and it’s nice to feel that confidence. We’ve done some good work so the motivation is high. Even when we make big improvements at a test we still see that we have a lot to do and have steps to make. It helps to move forward. I believe in what we can do. I would say I am a fast rider so I can give good information and I am very proud to be part of this story in KTM.”
Binder: “I think that this year we have a good opportunity and that, if we work, we can have a great year. I will give my all to be very consistent and get on the podium in as many races as possible. Whenever I can, I will try to go for the victory. The main thing is to be consistent as the season is very long. We have to be smart and apply everything we have learned over the past two seasons in Moto2.”
Martin: “Being part of this team is incredible. I am very proud to be part of this big family and I hope we can achieve great things together. It’s my first season in Moto2, so my main goal this year is to learn as much as I can. I will work hard and do my best; so we’ll go for it. Even though my first experience with the bike was short, the feeling was really good. I trained hard this winter and I can’t wait to get started.”
Oncu: “It’s a dream come true to be here today. I have always dreamt of being a world championship rider, so I’m very happy to have achieved it. My aim for this season is to learn as much as possible. New circuits will be coming up for me where we will have to work hard to learn and adapt to them. Nevertheless, I am going to give my all to try to achieve good results. I want to make the most of this great opportunity.”
Oettl: “I can’t wait to start this new adventure together with Hervé and my team. The tests in November have already been very interesting and I’m happy to be able to work and learn again with my guys soon. During this winter, I was training in Spain and Italy and I think, I’m well prepared for this season. Regarding the colors of our bike, I like the blue very much as it is a special tint, plus blue is my favorite color as well. I’m looking forward to the first tests this year and I’m highly motivated for these new tasks.”
Bezzecchi: “I’m very excited about the team presentation. I like the colors of the bike a lot and also, I can’t wait to be reunited my team and work with my new machine again. The bulls on the bike, that are chrome are my favorite part and I can’t wait to start this new adventure with Hervé, who is a very good boss. I enjoyed the days of testing in November with him a lot. He was always in the garage to watch what we do and how we work. At the same time, I’m very proud to be in a team like this.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director: “For us this is another very special moment in our racing story and it’s a milestone for us to have that structure in place. Our road race project has been building consistently since 2012 in terms of structure, confidence and people. I would say we have an amazing ‘path’ in place where you can go from a Rookies bike through all the categories to a MotoGP bike. In the premier class two motorcycles is not enough to be able to develop technology up until the highest level so having a second team in the MotoGP gives us an amazing feeling that our system is in place. We will work with this programme and that doesn’t only mean young riders and trying to get them through but also the bikes for each category with a strong in-house line-up and effort. That’s why today is very special.”
Stefan Pierer, CEO KTM Group: “Racing is the core content of our DNA. That means forced innovation every week or every two weeks. We see on the TV or the internet how many tenths of a second are missing and that really drives us to do everything what we can in the end to touch the top of the podium. That’s our philosophy and that has driven us to success over the last thirty years but in this racing world we are still beginners: this is our third year. This is a five year programme and by the end we want to see podiums and for the upcoming racing season I’d like to see single digit results; that’s realistic because we are still collecting data and we miss all the experience of our competitors. For 2019 – in gambler’s speak – it’s ‘all in’.
Poncharal: “It’s been great to show the world our definitive colors. I have seen them at the end of December. When Niki Ruhstorfer sent me the pictures for the first time, I couldn’t believe it, because this is such a cool bike, the colors are outstanding. They are not only very smart, but also look very technical. This metallic blue and metallic silver on the bike makes it look different, very elegant. Elegance is always important for a French man, so I’m very proud to have such an elegant bike, team uniform and riders’ leathers. We saw it a little bit on the Toro Rosso Formula one team and always found it really beautiful, so to be close to these guys and this design, is incredible. For sure, the most important for a motorcycle racing bike is to be fast and we are working on that. The test we had in Sepang a few days ago was very interesting. But if the bike can be fast and good-looking, it’s a big bonus. Therefore, we are more than proud to have shown what our livery will finally be and I can’t wait to see it under the floodlights in Qatar, because for sure it will look even more amazing. Hopefully, we can see these bikes with this livery in strong positions.”