The factory KTM team has revealed its challenger for the 2018 season
The factory KTM MotoGP team has unveiled its challenger for the 2018 MotoGP World Championship at Red Bull's Hangar 7 in Austria.
KTM made its debut as a full works effort in the premier class last season with former Tech3 Yamaha duo Pol Espargaro - who missed five days of pre-season testing through injury - and Bradley Smith, both riders remaining with the team this year.
The Austrian marque ended its maiden campaign fifth in the manufacturers' standings ahead of Aprilia, while Espargaro was 17th in the championship and Smith 21st, with the pair achieving six top 10 results between them.
The '18 RC16 livery bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor, while KTM will one again be the only manufacturer on the grid using a steel trellis frame.
KTM's motorsport boss Pit Beirer admitted stepping up to MotoGP last year was a tough task, but was pleased with the progress his team made across the '17 season.
“It has definitely been a tough call for us to enter awesome MotoGP after all the disciplines we were racing already,” he said.
“But, to be honest, at the moment I'm already really proud if I look back now to what our team at home and on the race track, what our riders achieved in such a short time was really outstanding and we are really happy about it.
“But, as you know, all of us we are racing there is no time to sit still, so we had to work hard this winter to make another step forwrad to present a new bike and make our riders happy that they are in a position to fight this year.
“But, it has been really an adventure and I'm really happy we are at this level at the moment.”
From next year, KTM will expand its presence on the grid to four factory bikes after agreeing a three-year deal to partner with the Tech3 team. It is thought this tie-up will also see the Tech3 Moto2 team switch from its own Mistral 610 frame to a KTM chassis.
KTM test rider Mika Kallio – who registered the marque's first top 10 finish last season – will join regulars Smith and Espargaro on five occasions this year.