After its earlier roll out in Austria, KTM has completed its first proper test with the RC16 MotoGP bike at Valencia. On Saturday and Sunday, test riders Alex Hofmann and Mika Kallio put the RC16 through its paces on the Spanish track.
The test sees KTM stepping up the pace of development on the bike. Alex Hofmann has been used as a development rider, to verify the bike is working correctly and is being developed in the right direction. New hire Mika Kallio has been brought in as the performance rider, the 33-year-old Finn freshly retired as a full-time racer, and therefore having the speed to push the limits of the bike. Kallio also has more recent experience of MotoGP machines, having ridden for Pramac Ducati in 2010, and having tested the Suter CRT MotoGP machine in 2012. Kallio was known in his former teams for his attention to detail and ability to pinpoint areas that needed improvement.
In a press release (shown below), Mike Leitner, the man leading the MotoGP project, pronounced himself very happy with the progress of the bike. KTM are working towards preparing the bike for a full-time return to the class in 2017, though KTM CEO Stefan Pierer recently told German-language publication Speedweek that they intended to contest the last race of 2016 at Valencia.
The interview with Pierer contained a number of interesting details. It was already well-known that KTM would be using a 90° V4 engine housed in a steel trellis frame, but Pierer revealed that their engine is already making around 270 horsepower. The bike is using a seamless gearbox, developed in conjunction with X-Trac. Though KTM have already asked Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta for a wild card entry at Valencia, they could enter earlier, should the bike be ready.
The key to success for KTM's project will be the ability to hire a competitive rider for 2017. That will require them to show fast times during testing. No times were released from the Valencia test, and as the project is still at such an early stage, there is still a lot of testing left to do. But with everyone out of a contract at the end of 2016, KTM need to be able to demonstrate that their bike could be competitive as early as possible.
The official press release from the test appears below:
FIRST TEST WITH KTM RC16 MOTOGP BIKE IN VALENCIA
Just four weeks after the official rollout, KTM test riders Alex Hofmann (GER) and Mika Kallio (FIN) last weekend completed the first tests with the new KTM MotoGP motorcycle at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.
Thanks to excellent conditions on the four-kilometer circuit, the two riders were able to put in numerous laps with Hofmann riding the new RC16 on Saturday and Kallio at the helm on Sunday.
Mike Leitner (MotoGP Consultant): “I’m very impressed with what the team has achieved in the four weeks since the rollout. There is already an excellent team spirit and this means a quick response onsite followed by considered action at the factory. The GP circuit at Valencia had a lot more grip than Spielberg (Austria’s Red Bull Ring) but even this worked very well with our package. I’m also happy with our current driver lineup. Both are working very professionally and are very analytical. Alex (Hofmann) delivers many useful inputs and even after one day Mika (Kallio) is already at a level where we can continue to work on improving the entire performance.”
Mika Kallio (MotoGP Test Rider): “Clearly there was still a lot of question marks before the test, but I’m now very happy and I can go into the winter break with a good feeling. Alex and the team have already done impressive work, we had absolutely no problems and we’re already on a really high level. Nevertheless we still have a long way to go and I’m looking forward to the next test. Until then I’m going home to do some racing on ice to keep myself fit.”
Alex Hofmann (MotoGP Test Rider): “It’s good to hear that what we have to say about the bike is going in the same direction. Mika was racing here a few weeks ago and he’s still in full racing mode. He was able to put in very respectful lap times at the end of his first day on the bike. This makes it clear that the entire package is working, which is another important step for the team before the winter.”
In the coming weeks there will be intensive further development of the KTM RC16 using the data collected and the inputs from both test riders ahead of the next test at the beginning of February.