You’ve got to hand it to KTM. The Austrian manufacturer may be showing the growing pains of any manufacturer in its first year in MotoGP, as Pol Espargaro was the top KTM rider in the first two official preseason tests of 2017, a lowly 17th at Phillip Island.
But that hasn’t stopped KTM from showing some serious swagger.
First, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer laid down some serious smack Monday during the team’s launch in Austria, calling Honda “my most hated competitor” and accusing Honda of blatant cheating when it competed with KTM in Moto 3.
Then officials from ubiquitous Austrian fizzy drinks slinger Red Bull, KTM’s primary sponsor, said Red Bull expects KTM to win a MotoGP World Championship sooner than later. This, despite KTM using a steel-trellis frame for its bike that was chic technology in 2004. Or was that 1974?
The final revelation during the team’s launch came when Pierer revealed KTM already has agreed to supply its prototype bike to a satellite team starting in the 2018 season. It’s quite the contrast from Aprilia and Suzuki, which continue to focus on just their factory teams in 2017, the third years of their respective returns to the premier class after a layoff.
KTM never has competed at the top level, and it’s bike isn’t exactly lighting up the time sheets. Yet it already has a deal for a satellite team?
Maybe Austria is different than the rest of the world, a place where carts are placed before horses. Or maybe KTM was the only manufacturer willing to help Dorna with its plan to boost the grid to 24 bikes in 2018.
Ducati already is supplying eight of the 23 bikes on the MotoGP grid this season, and Yamaha and Honda already provide bikes to satellite operations.