KTM Team Manager Mike Leitner will be replaced in his role off the back of a tricky 2021 campaign for the manufacturer, his successor to be announced soon.
Leitner has run the Austrian marque’s factory outfit since it joined MotoGP in 2016, leading it from being mid-field runners in its opening few campaigns to consistently challenging for race wins across the 2020 term, its RC16 scoring a total of three wins across the factory operation and satellite squad Tech 3.
A tough 2021 season though-that saw KTM slip from a contending fourth to a distant fifth in the manufacturers championship and from third to sixth in the teams-has meant that the manufacturer has decided to replace him ahead of the 2022 season as it looks to regain its 2020 form, Pramac Ducati boss Francesco Guidotti set to get the nod according to British publication Autosport.
KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer hailed Leitner’s “dedication” across his seven-year stint as team manager having “played a major part in our success story,” but that the brand had elected to refresh its leadership structure going forward as it looks to fight for regular victories and its first premier class titles.
“Mike has been a key figure in our mission to fight against the best in the world of road racing,” said Beirer.
“Together we created a MotoGP structure with the right staff and the right riders which achieved outstanding results at the pinnacle of the sport.
“We started building our RC16 and the whole plan from a blank piece of paper and under his guidance we put a great team together; one that took on the challenge of MotoGP.
“Now, after seven years together, we decided to reorganize our MotoGP leadership for the future, and I cannot express how much we want to thank him for all the work he put into this project.
“Mike pushed very hard to get us from the back of the grid to the front row and his dedication has played a major part in our success story.”
KTM struggled to find consistent raw speed with its RC16 throughout 2021, resulting in a sole ‘normal’ win for Miguel Oliveira in Barcelona, while a second success came courtesy of a brave strategy call to stay out on slicks on a wet track by Brad Binder in the Austrian Grand Prix.
The South African’s impressive consistency meant he ended the year sixth in the riders standings having failed to score only once, while team-mate Oliveira struggled to 13th overall after suffering from injuries at times as well as largely failing to get as handle on the tricky RC16, particularly in the latter stages of the year.
Tech 3 meanwhile went from scoring two wins in 2020 to failing to a best result of fifth by Danilo Petrucci in a French GP held in mixed conditions on which the Italian excels, Iker Lecuona its highest classified rider in the standings in a lowly 20th a single spot ahead of Petrucci-leaving the outfit last in the teams table.