In 2015 KTM continued to pursue its READY TO RACE philosophy and was again able to enjoy considerable success in major international competitions, particularly in high prestige events like the famed Dakar Rally and the US Supercross. At the same time, KTM continues to believe that the highest level of international racing also provides the perfect laboratory for developing and testing technology that is directly translated into machinery for customer motorcycles. KTM’s international success, both on and off the racetrack, is always enhanced by the fact that every KTM employee shares the same passion – for racing, and for excellence in research, development, design and production of the bikes that all exhibit the company’s unmistakable DNA.
Now, midway through the second decade of the 21st century, KTM can reflect back to the beginnings of its racing activities when, in the 1950s, Paul Schwarz and Erich Trunkenpolz, son of KTM founder Hans Trunkenpolz, took a spectacular 1-2 result in the International Rupert Hollaus Memorial Race riding 125 cc KTMs. Since then, the brand and its riders have won 257 world titles and continue to enhance its reputation as Europe’s biggest manufacturer and as a global entity.
KTM Racing launched the 2015 season with a fourteenth consecutive win in the Dakar Rally, the fifth personal victory for the now retired Marc Coma, widely recognized as one of the world’s greatest exponents of the sport of rally raid. It was a personal triumph for Coma, who with his victory equaled those of his former KTM Rally factory rider Cyril Despres.
Australian KTM rider Toby Price, a rider with a distinguished record of success in his country’s desert classics, joined Coma on the podium in third place in what was his debut Dakar ride. Matthias Walkner of Austria also made his Dakar debut and he, Coma, Walkner and teammate Sam Sunderland were all stage winners. Coma made a snap decision in the summer of 2015 to retire from active racing at the age of 39, and take up an attractive offer from A.S.O., the Dakar Rally organizers. The two young talents Walkner and Price have now been signed to the official Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Rally Team. They join veteran Jordi Viladoms, Sunderland and multiple world champion Antoine Meo, who moves from the KTM Enduro Factory Racing Team. Talented woman competitor Laia Sanz of Spain, who was ninth overall in the 2015 Dakar, and Chilean Pablo Quintanilla now race for the KTM Rally Factory Racing Team.
US Supercross and Pro Motocross
KTM has also enjoyed unprecedented success in US Supercross and Pro Motocross in 2015. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team’s Ryan Dungey took his career Supercross second title in the elite 450-class title in Round 14 of the 16-round competition. Factory teammate Marvin Musquin was the East Coast division’s 250-class Supercross champion and KTM also secured the Manufacturer’s title. Dungey was equally successful in his outdoor pursuits, wrapping up the US Pro MX title with rounds to spare while Musquin took the 250-class title to the last round but was narrowly defeated. The success of these riders also spurs increased interest from other US teams to run with KTM machinery.
MXGP and MX2
Meanwhile it was a testing season for the KTM factory teams competing in the MXGP and MX2 World Championship in a year when a spate of injuries affected teams across the board. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders, Tony Cairoli (eight career world titles) and Jeffrey Herlings (two MX2 world titles) were deprived through injury of the opportunity to add to their list. The season, however, saw the emergence of young talent like Pauls Jonass, who finished an impressive second in his rookie MX2 season, while two bright youngsters in the KTM Factory Junior Team, Jorge Prado and Josiah Natzke, took 1-2 in the EMX125 Championship. KTM claimed another world junior title when young Dutch rider Raivo Dankers won the 85cc World Championship in Spain in August.
Taddy Blazusiak got the season off to a great start by claiming another World SuperEnduro title but mid year, the Polish rider was diagnosed with the energy draining Epstein Barr virus that prevented him from competing in some of the season’s major Extreme Enduro events. Meanwhile, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team’s Jonny Walker has proved to be the man to beat on the international competition circuit. His win in January at the French Extreme Enduro at Ales Trem was the prelude to a fantastic season that saw him take victories at Hell’s Gate, The Tough One, Erzbergrodeo’s notorious Red Bull Hare Scramble (joint winner), Red Bull Romaniacs, The Wall in Italy and Poland’s Red Bull 111 Megawatt. At the time of writing, Jonny was preparing to challenge for the victory in the three-day Red Bull Sea to Sky in Turkey.
The KTM Enduro Factory Team fielded four factory riders in the traditional Enduro World Championship. Going into the final two rounds in France, Antoine Meo was leading the E2 class by 37 points and immediately after the finale, will leave France for the Morocco Rally the following week. This is essential preparation for the Dakar Rally 2016. Christophe Nambotin was just seven points off the lead in E1, but has been hampered by some injury problems this season. Following surgery to repair a meniscus in the summer break, he will be out to defend his world title in France, where he is only seven points off the leader. Matthew Phillips is currently in second place in E3, 24 points off the leader, but there are still 40 points on the table in the final round. Ivan Cervantes, Phillip’s partner in E3, has missed three rounds through injury this season. Cervantes is also competing in the 2016 Dakar Rally.
Moto3 and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup
KTM, slated to join the prestigious MotoGP in 2017, continued to be one of the most competitive bikes in the smaller Moto3 category. With five rounds left in the 18-round competition, Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) are the two top KTM riders at third and fourth in the points. Five teams are competing on the KTM RC 250GP machine in the 2015 season. Meanwhile, the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup (where all riders compete on the KTM RC 250 RB, a single cylinder, 4-stroke machine), saw a series winner in the 13-round competition when Dutch teenager Bo Bendsneyder sealed the title in Misano, two rounds before the season’s end. The number of Red Bull MotoGP Rookies graduates that have gone on to have successful careers in the three MotoGP categories is proof that the competition is fertile ground for nurturing future road racing talent.