KTM mulls third MotoGP entry; Could it be Husqvarna, GASGAS or CFMoto?

After watching Ducati expand its MotoGP entry to four teams, KTM considers adding a third team... potentially under GASGAS, Husqvarna or CFMoto

Start of the 20221 Catalunya MotoGP

KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer has revealed he is considering following the example of rivals Ducati by expanding its fleet of KTM RC16 to three teams and six bikes in the near future.

After considerable success in the feeder 125/Moto3 and 250/Moto2 categories, the Austrian manufacturer finally made its full MotoGP debut in 2017 and despite a sluggish couple of years as it got up to speed, has firmly established itself among the front runners since 2020, landing five wins in that time.

Having begun its MotoGP endeavour with just the single full factory Red Bull-backed team, KTM added Tech 3 Racing to its roster as the satellite set-up, gaining spec-machinery in 2020 that yielded two wins for Miguel Oliveira.

Now KTM is mulling whether to add a third team to the grid, in part because it has an impressive talent pool of young talent stacking up in the lower reaches. Trailblazed by race winners Oliveira and Brad Binder, KTM’s dominant Moto2 pair Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez have landed Tech 3 KTM seats for 2022, while highly-touted Pedro Acosta is expected to follow in 2023.

A third KTM team would mirror the tactics of Ducati, which will double its armada of four bikes to eight in 2022 with the addition of VR46 Racing and Gresini Racing to its existing Factory and Pramac set-ups.

"We have not actively sought any partners in recent years because we were told by Dorna that they would like each manufacturer to set up two teams," Beirer told Speedweek. “That's why we took a step back when we noticed that something was happening at Avintia and Gresini. 

“But now we see Ducati going out with four teams and KTM with two for the next two years. Of course, we feel a little misinformed. Because of course there is a certain power when you have four teams under contract after this season and supply a third of the starting field.”

What form could a third KTM MotoGP team take?

A third KTM team may not necessarily see it branded as a ‘KTM’ team.

Indeed, while there is a preference to coax an existing privateer team over to its fold - like it did with former Yamaha partners Tech 3 - there are no obvious options, with the only outfit not tied into a manufacturer, Honda-customers LCR, having already turned down an approach two years ago.

Instead, KTM could use a third team as an opportunity to give one of its sister brands some high-profile publicity.

The manufacturer already uses the Grand Prix paddock as a marketing exercise beyond its own name, with Husqvarna and recently-acquired GASGAS running their own Moto3 teams, albeit with KTM-built machinery.

Though Husqvarna is the higher profile of the two and returned to Moto3 in 2019, it is Spanish firm GASGAS - which specialises in Enduro and Motocross - that is getting the chance to compete in Moto2 next season, in collaboration with GP stalwarts Aspar.

Given Aspar has recent MotoGP credentials, there is a clear connotation to suggest GASGAS - which will expand into offering KTM-based roadgoing models soon too - is best placed for such an opportunity, albeit again utilising KTM RC16 equipment.

However, there is a fourth option available to KTM, one that would likely pique the interest of both Dorna and the FIM; Chinese giants, CFMoto.

Though not strictly a brand that comes under Pierer Mobility, the Austrian company does have a large stake in CFMoto, which builds motorcycles for KTM in China and uses its running gear models it sells in Europe.

Already in the throes of making a concerted push into the European market recently, CFMoto recently announced its move into Moto3 too via a link-up with PruestelGP using KTM bikes. Indeed, while Dorna won’t turn its nose up at Spanish-flagged GASGAS racing in MotoGP, given the potential of tapping into the vast Chinese market, CFMoto is certainly an attractive prospect.

Much will depend, however, on whether Suzuki and/or Aprilia get their much desired satellite teams off the ground to fulfil Dorna’s wish of at least 24 bikes - four per manufacturer - plus four more for Ducati, bringing the grid to its maximum of 28 riders. 

Both manufacturers have indicated they are keen to get a second team on the grid in the near future, but after Suzuki saw talks with PSRT-turned-RNF Racing collapse and Aprilia’s hopes of keeping Gresini on board failed, it remains unclear whether it could happen soon.

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