At the Sachsenring, after the introduction of KTM’s Moto3 GPR production racer, we spent five minutes with KTM’s Head of Motorsports Pit Beirer. We spoke to him about a number of subjects, including the evolution of the factory’s Moto3 chassis, the company’s cooperation with Kalex, and whether two-strokes would be better than four-strokes for racing.
The chassis of the KTM had undergone two evolutions since the beginning of the year, Beirer had explained during the press conference, with the final iteration being introduced at Silverstone. This revision of the chassis will form the basis for the production racer for next year, and was a good enough base for KTM to continue their development around.
What changed between the first two chassis options before you arrived at the final chassis in Silverstone?
Pit Beirer: We found out that our chassis was a little bit too soft in the torsion side, and we were very good in the flex along the length, we wanted to have a certain flex, and now we made a first step and improved big time. First we made with engine mounts and stuff everything stiffer, found a good step. A harder chassis, another good step which was at Barcelona. Then we made another, one more at Silverstone, and that’s where we feel our top level is right now. Our riders are completely happy right now. And we found out that lap times in both wet and dry conditions are competitive. That’s also important. That we are not fastest only in one condition.
You are using a steel trellis. One of the difficulties with a trellis frame is the number of welds, and each weld can create difficulty with manufacturing tolerances. How do you handle that?
We have a lot of experience with this type of chassis with the offroad, so the welding and the process, also for the factory bikes, is pretty precise. What was the main difficulty in the beginning to do our own chassis with our own people, without any comparison was the key to success in the next couple of months, because the base was really good, but now we do it in the same street, you know? It’s actually not KTM who are doing the chassis, they are done in the meantime in WP, but that’s in the same street, the same ownership, so we can really react very quickly, we don’t need to machine millions of parts, we can use different types of steel, different types of welding, different angles, and react on the chassis side so quickly. That is from now on our main advantage, that we have it so close in steel.
You also announced an exclusive relationship with Kalex. They will be the sole alternative to the KTM chassis for KTM engines from now on?
PB: We don’t want to have three or four different chassis using our engine. So we decided that Kalex is the only one that can have our engine, we will not produce our engine for other chassis manufacturers. So there is an exclusive relationship between Kalex and KTM, they can trust in us, there will be only the KTM or the Kalex KTM, but no other KTMs. It makes it easier, also because we have to open a lot of secrets to them, we send them drawings of the engine, we help them with the mapping, we share information about the exhaust, about the electronics, and there are many different small problems which we didn’t think of, that nobody thought of in this class. So that they are on this strong level, we need to open all our secrets to them. We trust Kalex, so that’s where it all ends, it will be a very close relationship between them and us.
The switch from two-stroke engines to four-stroke engines has raised some criticism from riders. For example, Danny Webb said that four-strokes are easier to ride, and this was making it harder for a good rider to make the difference. Are the four-strokes too easy?
PB: You see that in off-road and you see it in roadracing, that four strokes are easier in acceleration, you don’t have this power hole and then a big bump. You have just this nice and consistent acceleration. So once the riders are fully on four-strokes, it will be hard to go back on two-strokes. If they learn to ride a two-stroke, it’s always easy to jump onto a four-stroke. The other way would be difficult.
Four-strokes are the state of the art at the moment, it’s the highest technology. It’s not cheap, it’s expensive. I don’t know if it’s for the good of the sport that we use these highly developed four-stroke engines, but it is like it is, and we want to play the game on the top-level, so we have to do it.
Would you like to go back to racing two-strokes?
PB: It would make sense on the cost side, and you see we still have a really nice two-stroke family within our off-road field, and we see on the demand side, the demand from the customers is still there. But we cannot push now for two-strokes, because they will blame us for changing the history of motorsport, and we want to be in the top classes at the top levels, the FIM makes the rules and we follow them. So we don’t really push in this or that direction. But in KTM, there will always be strong two-strokes and strong four-strokes.
How long before the Moto3 bikes start beating the 125 times?
PB: I hope before the end of the season! But of course we are not measured on that. KTM right now is measured against the FTR Honda and Vinales, so that’s the guy to beat.
This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.