KTM turned out to be one of the big surprises of the 2020 MotoGP season. Having entered the reigning class in 2017, the Mattighofen manufacturer has grown year on year, going so far as to score three race wins and field four bikes with talented riders who are consistently able to run at the sharp end.
2021 will be a year of real change for the Austrian brand. Having bade farewell to Pol Espargarò, who moves to Honda alongside Marc Marquez, the factory team will now field two young, talented riders in the shape of Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira.
Title dream: a realistic goal or a utopia?
Having scored race wins, it’s time for both Binder and Oliveira to raise the bar. The South African earned the Rookie of the Year title thanks to solid results throughout his debut season and a fantastic win at Brno, but he will need to improve in qualifying in order to be able to stick with the frontrunners without having to push excessively through the opening laps, which can result in mistakes and proved to be the 2016 Moto3 champ’s weak point in 2020.
The Portuguese rider faces a new challenge as he moves from team Tech 3 to the factory squad. The winner of the Spielberg and Portimao races will likely be the project’s main player and, considering his growth during 2020, it’s not unrealistic to include him among the riders who, at least on paper, could fight for the title this season.
An unpredictable MotoGP
Team Tech 3 should not be overlooked either, the reconfirmed Iker Lecuona set to be joined by Danilo Petrucci, who is keen to return to the positions that count after a difficult year with Ducati, the only high being a win at Le Mans.
Considering also the possible absence of Marc Marquez during the first part of the season, the championship is likely to be another unpredictable one and it's important to remember that consistency is often more important than single race wins, as proved by the 2020 champion, Joan Mir. In light of the KTM project’s many strengths, it’s impossible to exclude the RC-16 from the running, the bike set to grow even further this coming season.
Translated by Heather Watson