Having achieved its first MotoGP victories, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer believes a title challenge is now a realistic goal in 2021.
KTM began last season with only one wet-weather podium to its name but finished the Covid-shortened campaign with three victories, eight podiums and fifth in the world championship for Pol Espargaro.
Although Espargaro is leaving to join Repsol Honda, KTM’s race winners Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira are staying to form the revised factory team line-up for 2021, when the arrival of Danilo Petrucci at Tech3 means another proven premier-class winner joins the RC16 ranks.
“In 2020 we exceeded our goals,” Speedweek.com reports Pierer as saying. “We now have a technical basis that enables several types of riders to win and for the first time also gives rookies better opportunities, as Brad Binder and Iker Lecuona have shown.
“Our goal for next year is to fight for the world title – and win it if possible.”
As well as their own upward trajectory, KTM’s title ambitions are said to be fuelled by the success of Suzuki. The smallest of the Japanese race teams returned to MotoGP in 2015 (two years before KTM) and clinched the world championship with Joan Mir last season.
KTM board member Hubert Trunkenpolz also noted that, with Mir winning the title at the age of 23 and in only his second premier-class season, Binder (25) and Oliveira (26 on January 4) should be ready to hold their own among the new generation of MotoGP stars.
“Oliveira and Binder have been in the business long enough now. If you want to win the MotoGP World Championship, it has to happen soon. Otherwise, it will never happen,” he said.
“There are now a few young riders who are not entirely harmless, for example, Morbidelli, Quartararo, Mir and Rins. They’re all fast guys. And it’s true – Suzuki is always our benchmark.
“Regardless of which championship we compete in, at some point we want to win a title. It’s exactly the same in MotoGP. I would not say that we would have no chance in the title fight next year. Our motorcycle is really on the right track now.
“We’ll see how it looks when our captain Pol Espargaró is gone. He could have finished second [in the world championship] this year without the falls in Brno and Spielberg…
“But if our two boys [Oliveira and Binder] are in good shape, I can already imagine that they will fight for the title.
“Pit Beirer is also expecting a lot from our new addition, Danilo Petrucci.”
Lecuona, starting his second MotoGP season at Tech3, will complete KTM’s 2021 line-up.