KTM and their constant rider problems
At KTM, Motorsport Director Pit Beirer and Big Boss Pierer have a lot in common. In particular, your public statements often seem to many as if you have eaten wisdom with spoons and your opponents are mostly fools. In fact, however, it’s not that simple when it comes to oranges and their successes and decisions. It is at least crystal clear that the goals officially stated by Pierer at the MotoGP start were missed by miles. It has to be said that for years they have failed to prove whether they will ever be able to fight for the title in the premier class, as they promised no later than 3 to 5 years after their entry into the 2017 season. This is despite the fact that Red Bull, one of the most powerful sponsors in sports history, is fully behind KTM. So it can hardly be because of the money. However, some serious flaws are difficult to overlook.
The first mistake in 2019 was followed by numerous others
With Johann Zarco the Englishman Bradley Smith was replaced for the third season of the Oranges in MotoGP. But 2019 was a real disaster for the Frenchman and KTM. Apparently, the fast man at Cannes had not been listened to and his complaints about chassis problems were taken as an insult to majesty, which is why Zarco, disillusioned and disappointed, asked for his multi-year contract to be terminated halfway through the season. The public defamation of the Frenchman that followed by KTM was of the worst kind and must be described as highly unsportsmanlike. But Johann Zarco gave his answer on the track and then ran into the ears of the orange drivers countless times. Almost at the same time as the Frenchman left, KTM also gave up on Moto2 and gave up competing with its own chassis in the middle category. How unfortunate this decision was was shown especially at the end of the season when Brad Binder missed the world championship title by a ridiculous 3 points despite serious problems at the beginning of the season. And things were to get a lot worse for KTM in the years that followed.
The wrong decisions in rider questions accumulated
You don’t actually have to be a mathematical expert to imagine that KTM and its customer team Tech 3 only have four starting places in the premier class, but have 8 pilots under contract in the lower categories. It’s also no secret that a young driver who is successful in a smaller class wants to move up and prove his talent there as well. However, the latter sometimes takes time, especially in the premier class, as Jack Miller’s career impressively proves. Without the surprise victory in his second MotoGP year 2016 in the most difficult conditions and a rain failure with a subsequent restart, the Australian’s balance sheet in his first 4 years looks very modest. However, KTM does not give its drivers this time. That’s why an Iker Lecuona rides in MotoGP instead of Tech 3. The Catalan has been fighting for Honda in WorldSBK since 2022 and has a better record than his predecessor Alvaro Bautista, who was completely overrated by most and who only managed 2 third places on the CBR-1000RR-R in 2 years without the Ducati Panigale V4R.
Wrong appointments, lack of patience and embarrassed at the home race
In addition to Lecuona, KTM also burned Grand Prix winner Danilo Petrucci and fired him after just one season. There was obviously a lack of patience and overview again and again. After rank 5 in the world championship in the first pandemic season 2020, figurehead Pol Espargaró was even lost to Repsol Honda, where he stumbled mercilessly, just like his Spanish predecessor Jorge Lorenzo. He returned for the 2023 season, but a terrible accident in Portugal keeps him away from the racetrack to this day. A blatant example of KTM mismanagement when it comes to pilot issues is definitely Jorge Martin. With the Spaniard, who matured in Moto2 with Aki Ajo’s team, they had a real gem in their own ranks from the 2019 season. After 2 wins in 2020 and three more podiums, the Oranges missed out on keeping the Madrilenian and lost him to Ducati. The Spaniard got off to a flying start with the Pramac team and secured his first place on the podium in the second race of the season in Losail (Qatar). After an injury break after a terrible crash at the Autodromo do Algarve in Portugal, his first victory and a third place followed in KTM’s home race at the Red Bull Ring of all places!
Today’s situation – no glory for KTM
As is not unusual at KTM, those responsible such as Beirer and Pierer liked to boast about themselves in public. They described their strategy of being the only MotoGP team to be represented in all three classes as a brilliant move. This would give them the opportunity to build their own offspring from Moto3 through the middle class to the top category MotoGP. So much for the theory, but where do you stand today with that? Although both of the current factory drivers have previously driven for KTM, Brad Binder was badly let down by the oranges at the beginning of his Grand Prix career. Without the financial help of his parents, the continuation of his career would have ended in 2013, after KTM dropped him earlier. They lost Jack Miller after his 2014 World Championship runner-up for KTM after receiving an offer straight into MotoGP from LCR Honda for the following season. After quite successful years on Ducati from 2018, the Australian only switched to KTM for 2023 because he was dropped by the Reds in the factory team.
The problem with ongoing departures and only one Moto2 team
Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez, lost this season, are now convincing with excellent performances on RNF Aprilia. They were both carefully built up by the oranges in the smaller classes and taken to MotoGP. If KTM with only one Moto2 team were to keep Acosta against their will in the middle class, they would face another problem. With two Moto3 riders like Deniz Oncü and world championship leader Daniel Holgado, at least two of their four riders in the junior class for Moto2 are really pushing themselves. However, if KTM keeps Acosta there, they will have at most one seat next to him. This threatens the departure of their young talents from Moto3.
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