As the final stage in its transition to a non-Concession MotoGP manufacturer, KTM is allowed to change engine design ahead of the new season.
That has always been the case for a manufacturer leaving Concession status, not least because each engine must now last longer, but when combined with the special ‘Covid’ technical freeze it puts the Austrian factory in a unique situation compared to Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda and Ducati.
The four established non-Concession factories are unable to change their engine designs from the start of 2020 until the end of 2021, restricting them to chassis and electronic developments – plus one aerodynamic update – for this season.
But any fears that KTM, which smashed through the Concession threshold by winning three MotoGP races last season and took a total of eight podiums, might roll-out a completely new bike were played down by Motorsports Director Pit Beirer.
“It’s the same bike concept and not a radical new engine,” Beirer said. “We touched some parts but we didn’t bring a completely new model.
“If we would really use the gap in-between the lines [regulations], actually we could build a completely new bike.
“But first of all you need to have also the manpower to do so, and we committed to our colleagues [with the technical freeze] that we’re going to go all together in a useful format and not destroy too much material, and that’s what we did.
“So we didn’t plan to make a completely new machine and use this moment to make an advantage.
“It’s the same bike concept, but for sure many parts have been touched. There are also a huge amount of parts which are not homologated [by the freeze], which everybody will change and try to improve.
“So it was still a huge development going into the bike. Everything we knew from last year we tried to pack in there, but not with a completely new engine.”
If the 2021 MotoGP calendar remains at its planned number of events (at least 19), the non-Concession manufacturers need to complete the season using no more than 7 engine changes.
Aprilia, the only manufacturer still with technical Concessions, would be allowed 9 engine changes (and can also modify engine design during this year).
The shortened (14-round) 2020 season allowed 5 engine changes for riders from non-Concession teams and 7 for those with Concessions.