KTM has just presented their new line-up.
Pol Espargaro (28 in June) will begin his third season with the factory RC16 and his sixth in the premier class. He is joined for the first time by fellow former Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco (29 in July) – the most successful Frenchman in Grand Prix history. Red Bull KTM Tech 3 field the promise of Hafizh Syahrin (25 in May and the first Malaysian to compete in the premier class and now set for his second MotoGP year) and Miguel Oliveira: another ‘first’ for his country – Portugal – in MotoGP and the recently-turned 24 year old rookie is the first rider to have come up the Moto3 and Moto2 KTM ladder. MotoGP is backed up by the rapid test team duo of Mika Kallio and Dani Pedrosa.
This is what the riders had to say:
Pol Espargaro: “We have a big target in front of us this year and I think we are in a good place. Johann has integrated into the team well and already looks fast. It means that we are set for the season. I thought Miguel was very fast at the test and that was surprising for a rookie and I know Hafizh is working really hard. All the info the Tech3 guys can bring will be helpful for me, the team and all the engineers. I know, from my experience, that Tech3 are good for helping and teaching the riders, and also improving the bike. 2019 will be about improvement: nobody is perfect and I learn something every year. I think with Johann as a teammate hopefully I can learn from him and apply it to myself to be a better rider and a better worker. I just want to give the best of myself in 2019 and the most I can to the team.”
Johann Zarco: “I’m happy to be here, and this is my first factory team presentation! I discovered Mattighofen and the KTM factory for the first time in January and I was very impressed. After a few tests now I am very happy: I feel that the people in the team trust me and it’s nice to feel that confidence. We’ve done some good work so the motivation is high. Even when we make big improvements at a test we still see that we have a lot to do and have steps to make. It helps to move forward. I believe in what we can do. I would say I am a fast rider so I can give good information and I am very proud to be part of this story in KTM.”
Miguel Oliveira: “I’m very happy with the new colours, the bike is amazing. The look of everything is just incredible, quite different from what we are used to. It’s such a nice project, that KTM and Red Bull got together; to have two factory teams on the grid is something pretty unique and it shows clearly that KTM wants to try and dominate this class and road racing in general. I’m just really proud and I feel privileged to be a part of this project.”
Hafizh Syahrin: “I’m really excited about the new livery. I think it’s truly different than everything else on the track. I can’t wait to be on track with this bike in Qatar. It looks amazing and I guess even more so under the floodlights in the desert. I’m very delighted about this look and can’t wait to get the season started!”