The Best Seat in Town – KTM Moto3 Media Test Almeria (E)
Moto3 – what a season it has been for KTM in 2013; rider and manufacturer title, every single race won, 21 victories in a row (stretching back to 2012). Domination is the only word that can be used.
Moto3 – domination is the only word that can be used.
The season not only reflects the outstanding work of our talented engineers in Austria, but it also proves that our Customer Motorsport programme truly works, as three KTM-mounted riders from three separate teams battled it out for the championship in a winner-takes-all at the season final in Valencia – our heart rates have only just recovered.
With Moto3 still a relatively new class, we knew that a lot of our media friends were keen to experience what the 250cc four-stroke single cylinder, KTM RC250 GP is all about. You’d think as the manufacturer, getting people to ride these special bikes would be an easy thing to arrange – but honestly not! The KTM Motorsport technicians do not stop (or sleep, sometimes) and the only chance to get a limited number of journalists to experience these machines was at a private test in Almeria, Southern Spain, in the middle of November.
This test was the location and occasion for Grand Prix teams and riders new to KTM for the 2014 season to experience the bikes for the first time and the factory team was testing out prototypes that will shape the direction of the 2014 machines. Even Maverick Viñales, 2013 Moto3 champion and 2014 Moto2 rookie, made a favour to KTM by arriving in his zebra-striped Alpinestars leathers to cut some laps on a prototype machine – he was fast!
The Red Bull KTM Ajo Motorsport team, led by Aki Ajo, kindly provided some of its team members along with its complete pit box set-up and, most importantly, the no.39 machine used by Luis Salom – winner of the most Grand Prix in 2013.
Also available was Karel Hanika’s title-winning bike from the Red Bull Rookies Cup. KTM-powered since its creation, the proven talent springboard class switched to the four-stroke 250 in 2013 with a machine very similar in specification to the KTM RC250 R ‘Production Racer’. The inclusion of this bike was to show just how competent an ‘over the counter’ the KTM race machine is.
With a sun-blessed circuit and the two bikes available over two days, 16 journalists were offered the lucky chance to be a Grand Prix rider – albeit for a very short spell. They came from Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain (ok, so we were already in Spain) and Sweden.
Race bike tests are very different to the glitz of a new model launch – such as the recent 1290 SUPER DUKE R. Faced with an incredibly expensive Grand Prix prototype made these very experienced riders, well, slightly nervous. Breaking the ice, we joked with the journalists not to eat too much breakfast as they would be weighed prior to riding the bike to see if they made the minimum rider and motorcycle weight of 148kg. How we laughed.
Breaking the ice, we joked with the journalists not to eat too much breakfast as they would be weighed prior to riding the bike to see if they made the minimum rider and motorcycle weight of 148kg. How we laughed.
The assembled pack was introduced to key personnel from the KTM Moto3 programme, including Sebastian Risse (KTM Head of Road Racing) along with Aki Ajo and members from his team. After a short briefing including a history lesson, technical details on the bikes, do’s and don’ts for the day and a reminder that there was no talent scouts waiting to sign them, the two-day test began with a deep rumble from the Akrapovič exhausts and nervous laughter.
In total, each rider over the course of the two days was treated to 10 laps on each machine, broken into 5-lap sessions. The weather and temperature just about held and sharing the track with real Moto3 riders as they went about testing programmes and adjusting to new machines also gave the writers an amazing display of just how fast these world level racers are – surely the best seat for any race fan.
So what did they think to the bike? You will have to read the various tests online and in magazines on sale now. But what I can say was that the expression on all 16 riders after stepping off the tiny, carbon fibre seat of the factory machine was of utter joy – think of a child on Christmas morning and you’re somewhere close.
So what did they think to the bike? … What I can say was that the expression on all 16 riders after stepping off was of utter joy – think of a child on Christmas morning and you’re somewhere close.