KTM going 'all in' for 'single digit results' in 2019

KTM CEO Stefan Pierer says the Austrian marque is going “all in” for its third MotoGP campaign, and wants to see “single digit results”. 

KTM comes into its third season in 2019 in the premier class off the back of a strong sophomore campaign, which culminated in Pol Espargaro securing the marque's first podium finish with third in Valencia. 

Despite this, Espargaro and team-mate Bradley Smith – who is now an Aprilia test rider and has been replaced by Johann Zarco  – only managed three top 10s between them compared to the seven they took in KTM's debut year in 2017. 

Pierer concedes KTM still misses the “experience” of its competitors, but believes top nine results this year is a “realistic” target as it heads towards its ultimate aim of becoming a regular podium finisher by 2021. 

“Racing is the core content of our DNA,” said Pierer following KTM's 2019 launch event.

“That means forced innovation every week or every two weeks. We see on the TV or the internet how many tenths of a second are missing and that really drives us to do everything what we can in the end to touch the top of the podium. 

“That's our philosophy and that has driven us to success over the last thirty years but in this racing world we are still beginners: this is our third year. 

“This is a five year programme and by the end we want to see podiums and for the upcoming racing season I’d like to see single digit results; that's realistic because we are still collecting data and we miss all the experience of our competitors. 

“For 2019 – in gambler’s speak – it’s ‘all in’.” 

At the recent Sepang pre-season test Zarco and Espargaro were 17th and 18th overall, 1.4s off the pace, with the latter hailing the gains made with the RC16. 

The Tech3 team will bring the number of works RC16s on the 2019 grid up to four, after the former Yamaha customers agreed a three-year technical partnership last season. 

Last year's Moto2 runner-up Miguel Oliveira – who becomes the first KTM rider to ascend from Moto3 to the premier class – will join Hafizh Syahrin, with the former just two-tenths adrift of Espargaro in 19th at the end of the Sepang test.