MotoGP 2021: Time for the next level
Wednesday 10th February, 2021 - 5:02pm
On March 28th 2021 MotoGP will tear away from the Losail International Circuit grid and into the Qatari night. As winners of the final round of 2020, perhaps more eyes will be on the four KTM RC16s that will inhabit rows spots and in the hands of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder (South African, 25) and Miguel Oliveira (Portuguese, 26) and Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci (Italian, 30) and Iker Lecuona (Spanish, 21).
The manufacturer will be hoping to surpass their 4th position in the 2020 Constructors Standings and add to their grand total of three Pole Positions, nine podium trophies and three victories in what will be only their fifth season in the MotoGP paddock. The four-bike roster heads the KTM GP Academy: a stream of potential star athletes and machinery that stretches through the support classes of Moto2 and Moto3 and down into talent-spotting initiatives such as the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and the Northern Talent Cup.
The 2021 liveries for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and the fetching all-orange design for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing will add a prominent aesthetic to what will hopefully be another gripping MotoGP contest.
Brad Binder, #33:“2020 in general was a season where I feel we achieved a lot, a few good results and obviously with the first victory – or KTM’s first victory – being the main thing. But there were also many days when we had the potential to do so much more. For sure now the margin is a little bit smaller to try and improve but I think as the season went on last year, even though we had a little bit of a slump in the middle, things got better and better. I felt like I was improving not only for the results but in the way approaching the weekends and going session-by-session. At the moment I feel that we have a really, really strong package. We are in a good direction and I am super-excited to get back on the bike this year.”
Miguel Oliveira, #88: “For sure to be world champion you need to have many details together at the same time and for that, depending on how the season is going and what is happening, generally we can find success through the project. Sometimes a 4th place will be a very good result and sometimes a 2nd place may not fulfil our expectations but you have to work through that process and right now, as a start base, I am thinking quite hard to set a bar of results that we can consider as successful. For sure being better than 2020 is already a good start. It is quite a relaxing factor to know that the bike is capable of winning but at the same time you cannot take anything for granted and when it comes to repeating success it becomes harder, so I don’t see it as a static job. I think every year you need to bring something ‘up’ on your side to keep a very good level in this championship. I feel I am able to work more on details in a factory team and to at least be more consistent. I think these are the tools that the factory team is going to give me. I have full conviction in my work.”
Danilo Petrucci, #9:“It’s my tenth year in MotoGP and to ‘celebrate’ this I will ride for KTM and I’m very proud about this. Tech3 KTM Factory Racing is one of the most competitive teams we have in MotoGP. Last year they won two races, so I am really happy to race with them. We have all the factory support we need and in a really nice environment. I’m really, really curious to try the bike and get to know the people from the Tech3 team. I want to give some of my experience back to this factory. I know many race situations that can happen during a year and all the other three riders are all very fast and very competitive. I am the ‘most experienced’ but I want to be faster than them or I want to fight with them and share our opinion to let the bike grow. In the end to be satisfied with the season and to make all the KTM people and factory happy: this is the target. To be fast is the thing that matters the most.”
Iker Lecuona, #27: “This winter I have been working very hard on my preparation because MotoGP is a very physically demanding class and you need to be in perfect condition. In 2021 I want to start at the same level that I reached towards the end of the season and then we will see how it goes. Everybody is strong, the level in the category is very high, but my team is working very good, the bike in 2020 has made a big step and I feel confident to show my best on the track”.
Hubert Trunkenpolz, KTM AG Member of the board (CMO): “MotoGP is the best platform for global motorsports present at the moment and this is why we wanted to prolong the successful co-operation we’ve had so far for the next five years. To win the first MotoGP race in Brno with Brad Binder last summer was one of the most emotional moments of my entire motorsport lifetime and, of course, also for the company. We delivered, and it took away a lot of pressure from us. I don’t know if it happened by accident but from that time our business on a global scale went through the ceiling. I think the fans enjoyed MotoGP in 2020 but what we really missed were them at the tracks. I hope this year we will get back to something like normal. In general our short term objective is very clear: we want to finish with our four riders in the top ten regularly and be on the podium regularly. We would like to win another race to really continue with what we have achieved in 2020.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director: “The whole MotoGP journey so far has been a dream but the project started with a dream to become a GP winner in that class, so it is amazing to look back and see where we have come., However I definitely don’t want to commit to us already being title contenders. I think this pressure should still be on other guys in the paddock but we are really, really happy that the dream came true with these GP wins. They are a fact. They are on paper and we are definitely hungry for more. We have great staff and everybody is pushing hard. I think that is the style of KTM and the whole company: to have this new spirit with a new goal means the whole company sticks together and we do it together. It brings extra energy. All four of our riders all have incredible skills and talent otherwise they would not be in that class but then in detail they are all different and in different ways they go for their goal. All four are still riding in that very last second of motorcycle racing. We have our first wins in the pocket but now the new season is starts and everything begins from zero. I will be happy with 2021 if our riders finishing the last GP without any injuries and we can think back to some very successful races. That’s what I am looking for.”
Mike Leitner, Race Manager, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: “Increased pressure for sure brings more motivation to the race team because all the KTM people working in this racing business are ‘built’ for pressure. This is the DNA of our sport – or for sport in general – and we’ll take this as a positive thing. For 2021 we are on the timescale. We had ideas and we had to find a good balance between what we can achieve now and between five days of testing in Doha before the season starts because we have to homologate the engine spec and the aerodynamic package there. We have the things we want for ’21 but of course people in the company are already working on stuff for the ’22 season. The plan we had for the winter tests; these parts or units are ready but what we can finally bring into the 2021 season will be decided after the five days at the Doha test. Both of our riders will get all they need to do their best in 2021.”
Hervé Poncharal, Team Manager Tech3 KTM Factory Racing: “After an incredible 2020 season which saw Tech3 KTM winning two races, we can’t wait to start 2021. It’s going to be a very special season for all of us at Tech3 KTM Factory Racing because we now know that with the KTM RC16 we have the weapon to fight for pole positions and to fight for podiums and victories. We will welcome a new rider with a lot of experience: Danilo is a super charming guy, he is so impatient, so focused and motivated to start the season with testing in Qatar. Iker remains with us. We have a lot of trust and expectations in him. He is not a rookie anymore and this is the time for him to deliver. For me as a team owner, I have to say that the first two years with KTM were like a dream. The improvements from 2019 to 2020 were unbelievable and honestly, even though I was trusting KTM to make a big step, the step they made was something I was not expecting. As I said before, to win two races already in year two is an incredible achievement. We are a happy team, everybody is very impatient to start the 2021 season but before we go to Qatar, there is a great moment for KTM and Tech3 to happen, which is this presentation. We will be wearing the full KTM factory colors, which is a great recognition for our partnership but also a lot of weight on our shoulders to keep pushing even more. We know we represent the brand and we know how important a MotoGP bike with the full factory colors is for everyone. Thanks to all those who follow and supports us.”