KTM changed tactics for 2022: “The new MotoGP bike was not the right philosophy” | MotoGP
While working on “new parts boxes” is often the focus of MotoGP pre-season testing, last week Miguel Oliveira hinted at a different approach from KTM for 2022:
“Technically the bike is going to have some changes, some evolutions, but the main thing we’re looking to improve is the set-up… We think there’s still a lot of room to find speed and more consistency in races with the current package and a few small changes can translate into much better results.”
After the first day of the Sepang test, the Portuguese star explained the background to this decision and why KTM is focusing on fine-tuning its existing package.
“The project of the new  the bike was held up around June. We had a new bike that wasn’t the right philosophy,” Oliveira said.[Then] at the end of the championship, it’s hard to make new pieces without direction.
“We could have a lot of boxes with new parts, but that doesn’t mean they’re better. We could try and shoot in all directions. We don’t want to do that.
“We want to have a bike similar to 21. With small adjustments to parts and settings, we can achieve better performance.
“It may seem that the changes are not very big. But the small changes we are making make us believe that we have more potential to have a better bike this season. Then with the new project leader, Fabiano [Sterlacchini]we could aim for bigger changes in the future.”
In other words, as KTM motorsport director Pit Beirer recently stated, “the racing team should raceand leave the burden of extensive testing and bike development to the likes of Dani Pedrosa.
“So far, there’s not a huge difference in our bike from last year to this year,” confirmed Oliveira’s factory teammate Brad Binder.
“Last year we threw a bunch of different things [at it] throughout the year. We didn’t find anything that was significantly better. I think the guys came up with a little different approach for this test.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve finished our whole test plan in one day! Normally there’s not enough time to go through all the things we want to try.
“I like the new strategy. It’s a bit more about identifying our problems. Less driving around in the dark and seeing what happens. I’m quite happy with how it’s going so far.
“We’re focusing on two or three key things. And we’ll try to improve them. If we could find 0.3 or 0.4, it would go a long way. We’re focusing on finding small things that will have a big benefit to the end of the day.
“We have a few small parts. I tried the new aero, which changes the character of the bike a lot. It’s positive. It gives us room to improve once we start to refine it. I’m happy with this step.
“Hopefully tomorrow we can see some improvements. If not, we still have time to work on it. Qatar is a month away. I’m looking forward to trying to get closer to the front.”
If there’s one thing Binder wants from the refinements, it’s “more grip in the slow corners. We’re having trouble cornering at the start. It really hurts us. We’re losing a lot of time in the first 200 meters going out on Every meter we lose, we don’t get closer. I would like to improve that.
“On my riding, I can definitely be more precise. I think that’s normal after a long break. I would like to find my bearings a little better and do clean laps when I really need to.”
Tech3 rookie Raul Fernandez was the best KTM rider on day one, in 13th (+1.311s) and a fraction ahead of Binder, who struggled with “strange” pumping from his first set of tires and, combined with a subsequent fall, was forced to spend most of the day on old rubber.
Oliveira was 16th (+1.574s) after setting his best time in the middle of the day, on the mediums. Fernandez’s rookie teammate Remy Gardner, who was riding with a recently fractured wrist, was 24th out of 27 runners.
2022 will be KTM’s fifth full season in the premier class. The Austrian manufacturer has won three races in 2020 and then two more victories (one for Oliveira and one for Binder) in 2021, but needs more consistency to meet company CEO Stefan Pierer’s goal of fight for the top three this year.