The R&D team at KTM comprises a crew of over 200 people: managers, engineers and technicians from all disciplines, spanner-men and test riders. It is hardly a surprise then that a company whose motto is “Ready to Race” has an above-average number of that ‘behind the scenes’ collective who compete in their free time. Since the final Grand Prix of the year in Teutschenthal one of them, off-road tester Matthias Walkner can even call himself world champion as the newly crowned 2012 MX3 Champion.
Walkner is 26 years old and has been racing since he was 14. He’s the first Austrian to repeat the World Championship successes of Heinz Kinigadner in 1984 and 1985. A backstage party to which the whole team was invited was organised in the endurance testing department to celebrate the sporting success of ‘one of us’. Philipp Habsburg, Head of the R&D department, congratulated not only Matthias on his title, but also highlighted yet more proud KTM success this year to date: 17 World Championship crowns, the sensational capture of the AMA motocross series in the USA and over 79,000 motorbikes sold up to the end of the third quarter.
Habsburg also commended the valuable input of all the staff involved in the testing and endurance work: “Everyone always talks about victories and titles. But it’s also the second places, defeats and innumerable test kilometres that drive KTM to the top. The R&D department’s goal is to always build the best motorbikes! It all starts with an idea, then comes the pure engineering passion and finishes with the test riders who provide valuable feedback. I thank you all for your efforts.”
A beaming Matthias Walkner received several prizes for his MX3 achievement and in recognition of the passion shown as a KTM test rider since 2004: from KTM R&D his new 450 SX-F, from KTM Motorsport a respectable cheque and from KTM Austria his favourite road bike, a 690 SMC R. To cap the event there was a special helicopter flight to Vienna for the champion.