Following a great start to Moto3 in 2012, KTM is powered up and ‘Ready to Race’ the second year of the new class of MotoGP when races begin on Sunday, April 7 under lights at the Losail Racing Circuit in Qatar.
The company’s official factory team, Red Bull KTM Ajo will be looking to repeat the success it had in the inaugural season when German rider Sandro Cortese won the title on the newly developed KTM Moto3 racing machine in a tightly fought battle with Luis Salom on the Kalex-KTM and Maverick Viñales.
Lining up on the grid in 2013 there will be no less than 16 KTM-driven bikes: eight of the latest KTM 250 FFR Moto3 machines, the essence of the expertise, experience and passion of KTM’s Racing Department and the company’s Research and Development and eight Kalex-KTMs from the German chassis specialist Kalex, which are driven by the latest KTM Moto3 engines.
The rider list is no less impressive. With Cortese moving up to Moto2 in 2013, Luis Salom of Spain is now the lead rider in Red Bull KTM Ajo together with Malaysia’s Fahmi Khairuddin and Australian Arthur Sissis. Fahmi wound up his season very strongly in 2012 with his first career podium at home in Malaysia and finishing seventh in the overall standings. Sissis, who moved up from the Red Bull Rookies MotoGP Cup in 2012 has, according to team boss Aki Ajo, matured as a rider and is set to move up the order this season.
Aki Ajo speaking after the final tests in Jerez: “We have all been working very hard over the past two months and many thanks to KTM who have done a great job and have come up with many new parts. The new bike was already good but we have managed to make even more improvements to it. We were able to give our riders some free test time on the track and I think we’ve got a good basic setup for all our riders.”
While Salom is a definite title contender Spanish talent Maverick Viñales is also in the title hunt. In 2013 he is riding a KTM Moto3 bike and competing for Team Calvo of Spain. Viñales was injured in the final round of pre-season official tests at Jerez, Spain, and underwent surgery for a skin graft after losing the tip of one of his fingers. He is cleared as fit for the opening round in Qatar but may be hampered by the injury in the early races. Viñales has Ana Carrasco as his teammate, the only woman on the starting grid, but one who has a proven record in the Spanish National Championships
Two KTM riders who have been consistently been among the fastest in pre-season tests are Spaniards Alex Rins and Alex Marquez, the younger brother of Marc Marquez, who also started his MotoGP career racing KTMs in the small class. Rins and Marquez are racing for Spanish outfit Estrella Galicia and all indications are that they will play a prominent role in this year’s competition.
Not to be overlooked is Germany’s Jonas Folger of Mapfre Aspar of Spain on the Kalex-KTM. Folger, who had a very strong second half of the 2012 season after switching teams at the half way mark has been constantly among the fastest in pre-season tests. He is another graduate of the Red Bull Rookies and is joined in the team by Brazilian rider Eric Granado who has also been recording fast times in tests.
Other riders to watch carefully are Niklas Ajo of Finland, riding KTM for Avant Tecno, and Moto3 rookie Livio Loi of Belgium. Both have shown good form in tests and Loi, who finished the 2013 Red Bull Rookies season on a high note has also already picked up a win in the opening round of the 2013 French Moto3 championships.
Other riders on KTM-driven bikes are Jakub Kornfeil of the Czech Republic and Dutch rider Jasper Iwema of RW Racing on the Kalex-KTM and German riders Toni Finsterbush (Kiefer Racing, Kalex-KTM), Philipp Oettl (Paddock TT Motions Events, Kalex-KTM) and Florian Alt (Kiefer Racing, Kalex-KTM).
Source: KTM Press Release
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