In the first of several revealing, informative and exclusive interview slots with KTM CEO Stefan Pierer the entrepreneur here discuss his views on KTM’s future road racing activities.
In Moto3 every race winner this year has been on a KTM. The company also won the IDM Superbike title a while ago…so how about Superbike and more MotoGP expansion?
If you look at the coming decade then I think MotoGP is not so interesting for us because so much money is needed and I cannot see any gain from a big outlay. Only Marquez is the fresh thing in this segment. Without him I think it would be the most boring class. For me there is no challenge there. In Superbike it is a bit different. If the rules come down to visible and affordable levels and the bikes are close to a standard product and without the minimum quantities rule then we would think about it. That’s clear. Some changes are on the way [for WSB] and it is in a good direction.
So WSB is too expensive at the moment?
At the moment it is linked to quantities of sales and the rules were not stable in terms of costs for racing. What would be important for Superbike is having the same technical rules, whether it is world, AMA or Germany…similar to motocross. It becomes interesting then. We have some ideas but I don’t think [a KTM WSB team will happen] for the next two or three years. We are looking closely at the regulations and the organisation.
Considering what you did in Moto3 and how fast that championship-winning technology was put together would it be quite quick to make that Superbike team happen when you give it the green light?
Yes and on that level we already have the ingredients. The two cylinder engine in a developed state is powerful and it can be done but it is just a budget issue and you need an experience team manager and good riders, especially in the development phase. To be fast is one thing but to explain what is needed to win is another. I remember almost ten years ago when we started with the 125cc two-stroke in MotoGP we were struggling in the first year but then we got Casey Stoner as our young rider and he was the guy that brought the motorcycle to the edge and a competitive level and it is similar in motocross. If you use a retired test rider then it does not help you but if you put on Tony Cairoli or Jeffrey Herlings then there is a difference.
But you have ten times world champion Stefan Everts as a test rider!
Stefan Everts is still extremely talented! Riders are important but so is communication and maybe this is an issue through the levels of a big company compared to a small entrepreneurial-led one. Riders are important to us and having the right character and then also hanging onto them as long as possible, right up to the end of their career and then being able to choose a role in KTM that fits their other skills. If you look to Sweden then former motocross vice-champion Peter Johansson is the Sales Director in the Scandinavian area. If he goes into a dealer then the guy is going to be listening to his opinion of what is going on in the off-road world. The same for technicians and engineers….it creates credibility and makes the ‘family’.
What about KTM’s racing future?
We have made a big push in AMA Supercross and also Moto3 but I am also working on Moto2 because I think that existing four cylinder concept will disappear because it is boring. I think the promoter is recognising that you need a couple of manufacturers otherwise it is not racing; it is a cup race. Although the action is very close, where is the attraction? Suter racing against Kalex? Nobody will pay money for that. The existing format of Moto2 will lower in attraction and the promoter will have to act and the logical move will be to take the good concept they have in Moto3, namely the single cylinder 250 and making some limits. So…let’s make a 500 two cylinder. You can use components from that. It is not difficult to step in for some manufacturers.