The first-ever Red Bull KTM MotoGP bikes – two units of the RC16 – were unveiled, marking the start of their official full-time onslaught in the MotoGP championship.
The Austrian motorcycle manufacturer unveiled its new speedy two-wheeler in full Red Bull livery at its headquarters in Mattighofen, in the presence of riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.
Red Bull KTM made its MotoGP debut at the 2016 Valencia GP in Spain, with wildcard-entry Mika Kallio on the seat, who remains part of the team as KTM’s test rider. Suffering a rear-wheel speed sensor failure, he failed to make it past the finish line.
Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro – who graduated from Tech 3 Yamaha team – had their feel for the RC16 the following week at the Spanish track, at the first two official pre-season tests of 2017. A few days ago, at the Phillip Island, Espargaro finish 1.3 seconds off the pace of Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales. Whilst, Smith was only a further tenth of a second behind.
Espargaro stated, “Right now it’s wild – a little bit too wild – but actually it feels really good,” and he added by saying, “We are making huge steps forward and we are improving every time we jump on the bike.” Smith mentioned, “Both me and Pol and all the KTM team will be working extremely hard. We’ve been busy in these winter tests, and the work won’t stop just yet. It’s just the beginning.”
With the debut of Red Bull KTM’s, only Aprilia remains to join the list of manufacturer for the 2017 MotoGP season.
The last of the official pre-season tests takes place in Qatar on 10-12 March.
In Moto2, Red Bull KTM are lead by reigning Moto3 World Champion Brad Binder and 2015 Moto3 runner up Miguel Oliveira, with a new KTM chassis in the class. Moto3 has a line up change for Red Bull KTM, as Brad Binder graduates to Moto2, while rookie Bo Bendsneyder stays on following his maiden podium finish and lightweight class race winner Niccolo Antonelli joins the team.