On March 28th 2021 MotoGP will tear away from the Losail International Circuit grid and into the Qatari night. As winners of the final round of 2020, perhaps more eyes will be on the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing RC16s that will inhabit rows spots and in the hands of Brad Binder (South African, 25) and Miguel Oliveira (Portuguese, 26).
The manufacturer will be hoping to surpass their 4th position in the 2020 Constructors Standings and add to their grand total of three Pole Positions, nine podium trophies and three victories in what will be only their fifth season in the MotoGP paddock. The 2021 liveries for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will add a prominent aesthetic to what will hopefully be another gripping MotoGP contest.
Brad Binder, #33: “2020, in general, was a season where I feel we achieved a lot, a few good results and obviously with the first victory – or KTM’s first victory – being the main thing. But there were also many days when we had the potential to do so much more. For sure now the margin is a little bit smaller to try and improve but I think as the season went on last year, even though we had a little bit of a slump in the middle, things got better and better. I felt like I was improving not only for the results but in the way approaching the weekends and going session-by-session. At the moment I feel that we have a really, really strong package. We are in a good direction and I am super-excited to get back on the bike this year.”
Miguel Oliveira, #88: “For sure to be world champion you need to have many details together at the same time and for that, depending on how the season is going and what is happening, generally we can find success through the project. Sometimes a 4th place will be a very good result and sometimes a 2nd place may not fulfil our expectations but you have to work through that process and right now, as a start base, I am thinking quite hard to set a bar of results that we can consider as successful. For sure being better than 2020 is already a good start. It is quite a relaxing factor to know that the bike is capable of winning but at the same time you cannot take anything for granted and when it comes to repeating success it becomes harder, so I don’t see it as a static job. I think every year you need to bring something ‘up’ on your side to keep a very good level in this championship. I feel I am able to work more on details in a factory team and to at least be more consistent. I think these are the tools that the factory team is going to give me. I have full conviction in my work.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director: “The whole MotoGP journey so far has been a dream but the project started with a dream to become a GP winner in that class, so it is amazing to look back and see where we have come. However, I definitely don’t want to commit to us already being title contenders. I think this pressure should still be on other guys in the paddock but we are really, really happy that the dream came true with these GP wins. They are a fact. They are on paper and we are definitely hungry for more. We have great staff and everybody is pushing hard. I think that is the style of KTM and the whole company: to have this new spirit with a new goal means the whole company sticks together and we do it together. It brings extra energy. All four of our riders all have incredible skills and talent otherwise they would not be in that class but then in detail they are all different and in different ways they go for their goal. All four are still riding in that very last second of motorcycle racing. We have our first wins in the pocket but now the new season is starts and everything begins from zero. I will be happy with 2021 if our riders finishing the last GP without any injuries and we can think back to some very successful races. That’s what I am looking for.”
Mike Leitner, Race Manager, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing: “Increased pressure for sure brings more motivation to the race team because all the KTM people working in this racing business are ‘built’ for pressure. This is the DNA of our sport – or for sport in general – and we’ll take this as a positive thing. For 2021 we are on the timescale. We had ideas and we had to find a good balance between what we can achieve now and between five days of testing in Doha before the season starts because we have to homologate the engine spec and the aerodynamic package there. We have the things we want for ’21 but of course people in the company are already working on stuff for the ’22 season. The plan we had for the winter tests; these parts or units are ready but what we can finally bring into the 2021 season will be decided after the five days at the Doha test. Both of our riders will get all they need to do their best in 2021.”