MotoGP 2017 Preview: KTM

A new team, some familiar riders, and a lovely streak of orange back in our lives. This year is going to be a very interesting one for my favourite brand.

KTM’s decision to step into MotoGP was a surprising one, given that they’d never shown any inclination before, but I guess with the talent they were handling and losing in Moto3, it makes sense. They have a new Moto2 outfit (although they’re not making the engines for those), and a team with the big boys.

The bike


Now THAT is a pretty bike.

Name KTM RC16
Engine 1000CC V4
Power >250BHP
Chassis Aluminium twin-tube
Transmission 6-speed
Brakes Brembo carbon fibre front, Yutaka rear/wet front steel

We have no idea how good this bike is going to be to be honest, or how soon it’s going to be before it gets good. Testing results haven’t been too great, but you have to think there’ll be a lot of learning and development on the job, as the team gets used to being in GP, and the engineers figure out what they need to succeed.

KTM don’t tend to do things unless they’re good though, so don’t be too surprised if they’re troubling the points before long.

In a year of uncertainty over the bike, they at least have two steady riders on top of them.

The riders


38 – Bradley Smith
Age 26 Born Oxford, England
Honours None
2016 17th, 62pts, Tech 3 Yamaha
Race Record
Class Races Wins Podiums Points Best
125CC 81 3 20 717.5 2nd, 2009
Moto2 33 0 3 233 7th, 2011
MotoGP 69 0 2 480 6th, 2015

Bradley Smith is the perennial middle man. He is steady and consistent, but never a world champion. His three wins in 125 seem a long time ago now, and he’s no longer the exciting kid he could have been. But like I said, he is steady, consistent, and reliable. The perfect talent to develop a bike in its first year of being a thing.

He’s joined by a very familiar face.


44 – Pol Espargaro
Age 25 Born Granollers, Spain
Honours 2013 Moto2 World Champion
2016 8th, 134pts, Tech 3 Yamaha
Race Record
Class Races Wins Podiums Points Best
125CC 71 5 21 708.5 3rd, 2010
Moto2 51 10 23 609 1st, 2013
MotoGP 53 0 0 384 6th, 2014

Much was expected of the one-time Moto2 champion when he made the jump to GP. Being on the Tech3, he was likely lined up as a factory Yamaha rider – indeed, he was the one on a Yamaha contract while lined up with Smith there. It just hasn’t happened for him.

Another one who is steady and reliable, you know what you’re getting with Pol, and he’ll be able to provide good feedback about how the bike is coming along.

The team battle

I don’t think it really matters this year, to be honest. KTM won’t be expecting an immediate world championship. If I’m pushed, I’ll say Pol, on account of he might get used to the bike a little bit quicker.


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