Pedrosa: KTM has found causes of MotoGP qualifying weakness

Brad Binder

Test rider Dani Pedrosa says KTM has identified two reasons for its weakness in MotoGP qualifying.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing finished second in this year’s teams’ championship although neither Brad Binder nor Miguel Oliveira, the latter of whom has since left for the RNF Aprilia squad, were ever seriously in the riders’ title fight.

Binder was, however, arguably one of the best racers in the field.

He finished ahead of where he started in 18 of the season’s 20 races, with an average position change from lights out to chequered flag of 4.3 (including counting his sole DNF of 2022, at Portugal, as a result of 22nd).

The problem for the South African, who would still end the year sixth in the riders’ standings, was that he missed out on progression to Qualifying 2 on 10 occasions, started on the front row just once all season, and on the first two rows just twice in total.

Pedrosa and Mika Kallio continued to test for the Austrian marque this month and the next at Jerez, and the former expects that they will have fixed one of their qualifying problems next year.

“We know that we have to make our bike more competitive for qualifying,” the Spaniard told German outlet

“It is one of the key elements.

“We have found two problem areas that have to do with our difficulties in qualifying and I hope we can solve one of the two problems for 2023.”

Exacerbating the problem for KTM, and most of their rivals, is that the Ducati Desmosedici appears to be the best qualifying motorcycle in the MotoGP field, and there are typically eight of those on the grid, of either current or year-old spec.

It is thus difficult for even the likes of Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo or Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro to secure good starting berths, and while they are more competitive in race trim, the Desmosedici is still a potent weapon on Sunday afternoons.

“The tyres are certainly a key point,” said Pedrosa.

“It is often noted that on a given track, a compound is better suited to a certain type of bike.

“Then, on another track, a different compound comes into play, which favours another manufacturer.

“On the one hand, Ducati benefits from this because it has the largest number of bikes on the track and, apparently, uses the tyres better than the competition.

“Perhaps they have found a better balance between the hard and soft compound and this allows them to handle the situation better.”

Binder experimented with a new chassis specification in the 2022 finale at Valencia and had a total of three at his disposal for the official post-season test which took place two days later at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, describing one of them as “100 times better”.

Said test was the first outing on an RC16 for Jack Miller, who has moved across from the Ducati Lenovo Team and brought crew chief Cristhian Pupulin following him.

Theirs will not be the only Ducati knowledge arriving at KTM given Alberto Giribuola, who had been the crew chief of Miller’s replacement in Enea Bastianini, also joining the Mattighofen marque.

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