MotoGP

Could KTM be the team to beat over the coming MotoGP races?

A week is a long time in motorsport but victory for KTM in Brno and a run of favourable upcoming races means it suddenly looks like a potential MotoGP title contender

KTM comes into the upcoming rounds as a strong contender for victory in at least the next four races according to 2020 MotoGP World Championship leader Fabio Quartararo, following its landmark maiden success last time out in Brno.

Brad Binder swept to an unexpected but fully deserved maiden MotoGP win in the Czech Republic, in so doing lifting KTM to the top of the podium for the first time since it made its full-time debut in 2017.

The win – though a shock – had come off the back of encouraging form from the opening two races too and even though the results didn’t quite back up strong pace from Binder, his factory team-mate Pol Espargaro and also Miguel Oliveira on the satellite Tech 3 machine have demonstrated quality strength in numbers. 

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In an already condensed season that has thrown up numerous surprises among the established front runners, from Marc Marquez’s injury – both to his arm and his title hopes – Ducati’s apparent slump in performance and Alex Rins’ own physical issues, instead a satellite rider leads the standings in Petronas SRT Yamaha’s Quartararo.

However, it is KTM that the Frenchman identifies as being very well placed to mount a genuine challenge over the next four races, being held at the Red Bull Ring and Misano, starting with this weekend's Austrian MotoGP.

The former of these is Red Bull’s home circuit and where it conducts a lot of its private testing, an area it holds an advantage through the concessions its afforded to allow it more development days on track with arguably the most accomplished test rider out there in Dani Pedrosa.

Moreover, Misano is another of its favoured and one it has performed well on in previous years. Between them they make the next four races, with Quartararo suggesting Brno proves KTM has turned a corner and can aim very high now.

“Yes [KTM are contenders], but not only from Brad’s win,” the Frenchman said. “Also in Jerez they were fast and then they had some tests here in Austria and now we have two races so I think the bike is going really well and the next four races they already have some laps with the new bike and I think the potential of the riders is really high, I think they can fight for a good position in the championship and the next races.”

Are KTM in the running for the 2020 MotoGP title?

We’re only 3 races into the season but in the context of a 14-event calendar, that’s still a fairly significant portion of the year done. Once these four are out of the way, only five races will remain and will give us a firm indication of which teams and riders could prevail in this most unusual of seasons.

Even prior to Brno, KTM would have looked at these four events as opportunities for good results, but that means it isn’t far away from wondering whether it could be something more spectacular.

On the ground, Espargaro has a little something to prove having seen the honour of winning KTM’s first MotoGP race snatched away from him, though it’s reasonable to think he’d have been on course for completing a 1-2 for the team.

The Red Bull Ring and Misano represented two of KTM’s best events last year, so with the combination of there being no clear favourite, a wave of confidence and frankly more data than its rivals, KTM’s odds really have just slashed overnight…
 

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