KTM in MotoGP slump: Drivers demand faster development pace

KTM started the 2024 MotoGP season with high expectations. “We are not going to all this trouble to say that third place is good. We want to fight for the world championship,” explained motorsport boss Pit Beirer in the winter. And at first it seemed as if KTM could actually achieve its ambitious goals this year. Brad Binder finished second in both the sprint and the Grand Prix at the season opener in Qatar.

KTM loses ground in 2024 MotoGP season

But since then, success has been in short supply in the KTM camp. Only super rookie Pedro Acosta was able to convince, finishing in the top three in three sprints and two Grand Prix. Binder, Jack Miller and Augusto Fernandez only saw the podium from afar. Each of these three drivers currently has fewer points than at the 2023 summer break – even though there has already been one more race weekend in 2024.

KTM changes MotoGP strategy: GP winners instead of rookies! (05:49 min.)

Binder slipped from fourth place in the World Championship last year to seventh place in 2024, Miller from seventh to 16th, Fernandez from 14th to 17th. On average, KTM collects fewer points per race weekend than in the first half of the 2023 season, when they had to do without injured regular rider Pol Espargaro. Substitute rider Jonas Folger, who had not previously driven in a MotoGP race for more than five years, only scored nine points.

Provisional KTM low point at the Sachsenring

Last weekend’s German Grand Prix was the worst result of the year, with just eleven points in the constructors’ championship (only the best driver from each manufacturer is counted here, ed.). The best three race weekends lead directly to the start of the season in Qatar, Portugal and the USA. KTM’s form is clearly pointing downwards.

Pedro Acosta crashes during training at the Sachsenring
Pedro Acosta was also unable to fight for top positions recently, Photo: Tobias Linke

“We are not where we want to be,” admits motorsport boss Beirer. “I would therefore also like to defend our drivers. They are currently being held back. We were at the front at the beginning of the year and now we are not even close to the podium. We have to do something to give our drivers a better feeling. We have to take a step forward during the summer break so that our drivers have better tools at their disposal in the next races.”

Jack Miller sounds the alarm: Base almost a year old!

This is also the hope of the pilots who see KTM in reverse gear in the MotoGP technical arms race. After years of a flood of updates, the tide is now at an ebb in Matthighofen and Munderfing. “We need more development. It’s that simple!” says Jack Miller clearly. “The basis of our motorcycle is the same as in Misano 2023. The engine and the aero package are good, but we need more grip and better turning. We are still using the first version of the carbon frame (this was used for the first time by wildcard rider Dani Pedrosa in Misano 2023, ed.). Nothing has changed in this area.”

Teammate Brad Binder agrees: “We haven’t had an update for a long time. Now we need to clearly understand which direction we need to go in.” And rookie Pedro Acosta has also been using more or less unchanged material since the start of the season. “Not much has changed,” he explains when asked by Motorsport-Magazin.com . Acosta therefore travelled from the Sachsenring directly to the KTM headquarters in Austria to look for solutions together with management and engineers. “I’ll stay there for at least a week to see how we can improve. I want to get to know everyone in the factory and talk to people face to face. That’s always better.”

Pedro Acosta seeks exchange with the KTM bosses, Photo: LAT Images
Pedro Acosta seeks exchange with the KTM bosses, Photo: LAT Images

Acosta will not meet a person who has been very important to KTM in recent years during his visit to Austria: Fabiano Sterlacchini. The Italian came to KTM in June 2021 from Ducati – where he was considered Gigi Dall’Igna’s right-hand man – and took over the position of Technical Director for the MotoGP project. His contract with the manufacturer expired at the end of June 2024 and the parties could not agree on an extension. The position is now to be filled internally.

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