Red Bull KTM announces its lineup for the 2021 season
Four riders have been announced for the two KTM teams, both of which count Red Bull among its main sponsors
South African racer Binder and Portuguese racer Oliviera have previously been teammates in the Red Bull KTM Ajo squad in Moto3 in 2015 and then Moto2 in 2017 and 2018. In fact, they have come through a structure the brand labels the ‘KTM GP Academy’; a system of talent recognition and support stretching all the way from the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup to the FIM World Championship categories. The duo have shared six Grand Prix podiums so far, notably three in a row towards the end of the 2017 Moto2 championship.
For his part, Oliveira scored an impressive nine points-scoring results, with a strong top eight classification at the Grand Prix of Austria in his rookie season (2019). As for Binder, this will be his third term in MotoGP and his sixth in total with KTM. The 25-year old completed two campaigns as part of Red Bull KTM Tech3 even as 2019 was curtailed owing to a shoulder problem, and 2020 been blighted by repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has yet to make his MotoGP debut in 2020 but has already inked a new contract to remain in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team colours for 2021. The South African has been part of the Red Bull KTM family since 2015 and became the company’s third Moto3 World Champion in 2016; lodging all of his 15 GP victories in ‘Orange’.
Also, 2020 will be the fourth year for Pol Espargaro with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team. However, this will be the final season for the 29-year-old Spaniard, who has decided to pursue different paths in MotoGP from 2021 onwards.
Moving now to the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team, which will count upon Danilo Petrucci’s knowledge and wisdom accrued over nine seasons of MotoGP. The 29-year-old will be only the second Italian to represent the French crew in MotoGP this century. He has gathered nine podium finishes so far in the class, steering three different bikes since his 2012 Grand Prix debut. Petrucci’s teammate Iker Lecuona, however, is his spectral opposite, as the 20- year-old Spaniard is waiting to begin his first term in MotoGP in 2020, but has already re-signed in with the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team for 2021.
Speaking about his appointment with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team, Brad Binder said,”I’m incredibly excited to be able to have another season on the Red Bull Factory racing RC16 and I’m really looking forward to getting this year underway and my first MotoGP race under my belt. It’s an honour to have this opportunity and I’m looking at a bright future with KTM and some great times to come.”
“I’m really happy about this opportunity that KTM have given me for the next two years,” said teammate Miguel Oliveira, adding, “I feel that they trust me to show my value as a rider in this project. Since day one I have given my best to the bike and believed in its potential to achieve good results and this is what we want to deliver in the near future. I think we are in the right place to do it, and for me to develop as a rider. It’s a great, great opportunity. We still have to focus on 2020 but I feel grateful for this great challenge. Thanks to the KTM family.”
Showing excitement, ahead of his MotoGP debut, Iker Lecuona said, “I would like to truly thank Red Bull KTM Tech3 for the confidence they are placing in me for their 2021 project. I felt very good with the new RC16 from day one and the bike has really progressed from the configuration we used in the 2019 Valencia race. I think we can make some great races with this machine. Signing for 2021 gives me enough peace of mind to be able to fight for my goal of being Rookie of the Year. I feel like I'm in a great family here."
Speaking about the upcoming seasons, Herve Poncharal, Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Principal said, “Iker Lecuona, the youngest rider on the MotoGP grid at the moment, is going to be with us again in 2021. We are all very happy about that because it was a big move for him to jump on a MotoGP bike and, unfortunately, he hasn’t had a lot of chances yet to show what he can do. Then we will have the pleasure to welcome Danilo Petrucci with us from 2021. Danilo is a man I respect a lot. He is a ‘normal’ guy, who always say hello to everyone, who has a lot of charisma and a great sense of humour. On top of that – and maybe even more important – he is also a team player and a MotoGP winner. There are four factory Red Bull KTM riders on the grid with the same support, the same equipment and this shows us the support that KTM is giving to the team. I would like to thank Stefan Pierer, Hubert Trunkenpolz and Pit Bierer: these are exciting news and it is an exciting program. We want to do well in 2020 but we are also already impatient to start working with our 2021 crew.”
The 2020 FIM MotoGP World Championship will get underway with a double-header event – the Grandes Premios Red Bull de España and Andalucía – at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain on July 19 and 26.