KTM are enduring a disappointing start to the season, with both the works and Tech3 team complaining of various issues with the bike.
In 2020, KTM had a dream season, the RC16 picked up three wins to finish 4th in the manufacturers’ title, with 200 points. In 2021 however, it hasn’t been smiles and rainbows so far. the Austrian team is enduring its worst start to the season since 2018, with only 14 points on the board, all from the works operation.
Eighth place seemed like a good result for Brad Binder in the second round at Qatar, but he has admitted it was due to a bold and ‘scary’ choice of rubber.
“I was really quite scared to go back on the medium front considering I crashed three times with it. All three were crashes that I didn’t expect, they just washed away on me. That was a bit hectic but we didn’t have a choice. The soft wasn’t an option, even in qualifying to do two runs and time attacks on the same tire were impossible because it had already dropped on the right-hand side. It was clear that even if we didn’t like the medium we’d have to use it otherwise we would not see the end of the race.”
Despite finishing all the way down in eighth, the competition was so close that he was less than five seconds away from the winner, Fabio Quartararo. More evidence that losing a tenth of bike performance can plummet a rider down the order.
The satellite Tech3 team, though, has had a start no less than dismal. It’s the first time in the French team’s 21-year history that they’ve scored no points in the first two races. 17th is the best they’ve achieved thanks to Iker Lecuona in the opener.
Former Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci, a newcomer to the stable, has said the bike has almost nothing in the straight line.
“I struggled a lot with the front and rear grip. Then, we lost a lot on the main straight, so I couldn’t defend myself. I’m so sorry, because I thought to be faster, but in the middle of the race I couldn’t pass the rider in front of me [Valentino Rossi]”
“It is a matter of physics, just adapting the bike to my weight. We cannot change the engine, so we decided to try to be more aggressive on braking and try to stabilize the bike to be faster on entry to the corner.”
It was a difficult start for Lecuona too, who’s had arm pump surgery after an accident in the second Qatar round. Tech3 boss Hervé Poncharal said of the weekend;
“It was a difficult opening of the championship for the entire team,”
“The only thing is, we could see the Factory guys doing well. Binder did an incredible race and managed to end up in eighth position, just under five seconds from the winner. So, we should take the positives out of that. We still have a long way to go, but fortunately, we will go to circuits, that should be a bit easier for us.”