It was a shock to hear that the venerable Tech3 team would be leaving the Yamaha family, come the 2019 MotoGP season, after all Tech3 boss Hervé Poncharal cut his teeth with Yamaha.
But, once the news of his move sunk in, we are not surprised to hear that he is headed to KTM for the 2019 season, as was officially announced today (and rumored for well over a week).
That is right, for the 2019 MotoGP Championship, the Tech3 team – one of the most regarded satellite teams in the GP Paddock – will be racing the KTM RC16 MotoGP race bike, with full-factory machines from Austria.
That last caveat is likely the tipping point and main reason for Poncharal’s switch, with Tech3 long having to put-up with having the leftovers from the Yamaha Racing factory squad.
Having factory bikes means that Tech3’s riders have just as good of a chance as winning races as the factory team riders, which means more sponsors, which means more money, which is the main reason Poncharal et al go racing in the first place – for the independent teams, racing is a business, which is a distinct difference from the MotoGP factory squads.
With the 2017-spec of the KTM RC16 impressing already, there are high hopes for this year’s model, though it is the last few tenths on the time sheet that are often the most difficult to achieve, so we should take some precautions in our preseason expectations.
Still, KTM has impressed with its efforts in MotoGP, and the Austrian firm is shaking things up in both the Moto3 and Moto2 classes, after being in them for a very short period of time, 2012 and 2017 respectively.
As such, by the time the 2019 season comes around, Tech3 could find itself with two of the better bikes on the MotoGP grid, which makes Poncharal’s gamble all the more lucrative, and all the more well-played.
“We are very happy to join forces with Tech3 in MotoGP from 2019,” said KTM Motorsport Director, Pit Beirer. “The team has many years of experience and achieved a lot of great results in this championship.”
“Their professional structure will make us even stronger. Having four KTM RC16 on the grid is also another big step for us, both for the development of our MotoGP bike and expanding KTM’s structure in the paddock.”
“From the Red Bull Rookies Cup up to MotoGP there is a clear path to the top. We are looking forward to start a great cooperation and I’m thankful towards Hervé Poncharal for the future trust in KTM.”