KTM’s sixth season of MotoGP will see Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Tech3 KTM Factory Racing take the RC16 into competition for the longest series in the history of the sport. Brad Binder, Miguel Oliveira, Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner will attempt to find fresh milestones through the 21-Grand Prix campaign as the company chase their third successive year of race victory.
All routes lead to the Losail International Circuit on March 6th and the sixteenth consecutive year that the Grand Prix of Qatar will open the MotoGP World Championship. 2022 will be only the sixth season that KTM are on the MotoGP grid. Losail, in particular, was the scene of their very first full-time MotoGP appearance in 2016. During that intense learning term the factory was frequently trying to reduce the gap to the peak of the pack. They have since surged to the forefront with five Grand Prix victories and 12 podium appearances in just half a decade.
Binder (26-years-old, 17 career wins, two in MotoGP) prepares for his third MotoGP season, all with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing. Oliveira (27, 15 career wins and three in the premier class) entered MotoGP a year earlier but is currently the most prolific of the quartet and has walked the podium five times in three campaigns, all with the KTM RC16.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing welcome Francesco Guidotti into the role of Team Manager with the Italian overseeing the second consecutive season of former Moto3 and Moto2 teammates Binder and Oliveira together on the rider roster. Guidotti will bring his former experience and nuance in the category to a refined set-up that will focus on pure results, with the KTM testing team – led by Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio – spearheading development of the KTM RC16 away from Grands Prix.
KTM face 2022 with four factory riders and factory machines thanks to the fourth year of collaboration with the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing Team. Hervé Poncharal’s knowledgeable and decorated outfit will again help to induct two exciting new recruits: Moto2 World Champion Remy Gardner (23-years-old and six career victories) and 2021 runner-up Raul Fernandez (21 and 10 triumphs in two classes). Both riders came through elements of KTM’s GP Academy and Aki Ajo’s fabled set-up in both the Moto2 and Moto3 divisions.
Raul Fernandez: “I am really happy to do my first MotoGP season and it is a great opportunity for me. I remember only three years ago I was competing in the Moto3 World Championship, and now here I am in the MotoGP class. It is an absolute pleasure. This winter, I prepared differently than previous years in order to gain muscle and get stronger. The MotoGP bike is so much more powerful. The braking is different… Everything requires more physical fitness, so I did motocross and road bike training, some cycling and running, and I feel ready. My main goal this season will be to advance and progress race by race, and enjoy myself in every single one of them.”
Remy Gardner: “I am thrilled to start my first season in the MotoGP class. This is the dream of every motorcycle racer and I cannot wait to get started. We already had a few tests in 2021 that were encouraging, so I am very excited to improve myself, continue to discover the bike, and be able to learn about this amazing class with so many talented riders. I am also looking forward to working again with Tech3, getting along with the team, and continuing the relationship with KTM. This is going to be a long, but interesting year. I know it won’t always be easy but I will always push, try and give the best of myself in order to get the best results we can without going too crazy. I will certainly take this season step by step, but I am very excited to start riding again.”
Brad Binder: “I’ve learnt so much over the last two seasons it’s difficult just to pick a couple things in particular. I think each year has come with it’s own sets of challenges; in my first I had to manage my expectations a bit. I often wanted too much, too soon and made a lot of mistakes. Last year I had to accept where we were at some points and try and bring the bike home, which was difficult but I learnt a lot last year: I learned so much more about the category, how to save my tires better, how to manage races and I enjoyed it a lot actually. So, I’m going in to my third season understanding what I need to do to go faster and I’m looking forward to getting the year started. I’m more ready than I’ll ever be.”
Miguel Oliveira: “Last year we had a huge step forward in four races where I scored three podiums and one win so that was quite nice. Then with the injury in the second half of the season the races became really tough: it was definitely a learning curve for me. I lacked consistency and of course this season I’d like to improve that. It’s never easy to go to the limit and still think about finishing the race. I would say if I’m able to score points in every GP then at the end of the championship the result might be quite different, so we’re just looking to take the maximum potential of myself, of the bike, of the whole crew and translate that into results.”
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director: “2021 was the most successful motorsport season ever in our group. It is amazing what we have done in one year in the road racing paddock: winning the Moto3 world championship and the Moto2 world championship and finishing 6th in MotoGP. It is super-motivating for everything in the future. When you start a project like this in MotoGP you want to win a race one day and to say that sounds quite simple but to actually do it is such an incredible effort from so many people involved. We did it. It’s on paper, but we also had to learn it the hard way; you win one weekend in that class but the next weekend you are fighting to qualify for Q2 because it is just so tight. The target for us now is to be there consistently every weekend, get in that top five and fight for the podium at the end of season standings. That must be the goal for this season. I know it is a very high one because the other manufacturers have ambitious targets as well but we are strong now: we have the team, the base, the bike and we have the riders.”