Red Bull KTM Ajo to carry KTM GP Academy hopes as 2024 Grand Prix launch nears

KTM’s extensive presence and impact in the Moto3™ and Moto2™ categories of 2024 MotoGP™ will once more lie in the extremely capable hands of the Red Bull KTM Ajo squad this season. The team will again lead the KTM GP Academy project in both classes for the 21-round world championship.

KTM have won two of the last four Moto3 world titles with the KTM RC4 and they have clinched the Moto2 world championship for three years in succession: 2021, 2022 and 2023. The prolific Red Bull KTM Ajo outfit have bagged four of these crowns and helped elevate no less than six riders onto the MotoGP grid and into factory teams.

The quest for more silverware and the development of the current four-rider roster continues for 2024. Jose Antonio Rueda (18-years-old) and Xabi Zurutuza (18 in April and therefore not debuting until the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas and round three of the campaign. Vicente Perez will deputize in Qatar and Portugal) will run in Moto3. Rueda, the 2022 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Champion, ended his first Grand Prix season in 2023 with 9th place in the championship, and one podium finish (3rd place in Catalunya). Zurutuza is the bright new rookie on the scene and showed he has undoubted pace and potential with two FIM JuniorGP wins last year.

Moto2 responsibilities fall to Celestino Vietti (22) for what will be the Italian star’s fourth term in the category and where he has already notched four victories, and incoming Turkish rookie Deniz Öncü (20) who makes the step up from two active and successful seasons in Moto3 where he managed to walk the top step of the rostrum three times.  

The foundation layers of the KTM GP Academy comes from high-quality feeder and ‘filtering’ series that allow the most promising youth prospects to compete, to learn and to standout. The provision of KTM machinery in these contests allows an early bond to form between the athlete, the technology and the ethos of the company. In 2024 many eyes will again be on the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup: a championship that involves seven rounds and fourteen outings and from which almost half of the current premier class grid has emerged.

Another strong platform for pre-Grand Prix talent is the FIM JuniorGP championship that will roam across Italy, Portugal and Spain for seven fixtures between April and November. KTM RC4 R bikes will also be speeding around circuits in Germany and Austria for the ‘KTM Junior Cup powered by ADAC’: a championship that is also part of the ‘Road to MotoGP’ pyramid designed to empower the next generation of racer.

2024 MotoGP begins in a matter of days with the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar at the Lusail International Circuit from March 8-10. Red Bull KTM Ajo tasted Moto3 success at the venue in 2021 and Moto2 glory in 2020.

Jose Antonio Rueda: “I am very excited about 2024. We have worked very well in this pre-season, being very fast and finding a point where we are comfortable with the bike. KTM has done a great job with all the new features and I think we can be very competitive this year. I want to thank everyone once again for their trust and I hope we can achieve great results together.”

Xabi Zurutuza: “The pre-season is getting a bit long for me, especially as I’m missing the first two races! I'm really looking forward to starting in Austin and, although I don't know most of the tracks, I'm very happy for this opportunity. I'm adapting well to the team and the way we work, so I want to continue like this and make the most of this year.”

Celestino Vietti: “I am very excited and so happy to be part of this team and this crew, it’s a pleasure. I’m recharged and very motivated to try to have the best season possible. I’ll give everything. I’ve trained in a good way this winter, so I think we’ll be able to achieve. Thanks to everybody that made this possible and let’s see how we go.”

Deniz Öncü: “This is my first season in Moto2 so I'm really happy to be with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team again. It's a new challenge for me with this new category but I believe with some adaption and time, we will be up there fighting for the top positions. Let's enjoy it but work hard for the new season.”

Aki Ajo, Team Principal: “We are very enthusiastic to start the new season with the KTM Academy riders. This year there are many new developments: a completely new KTM RC4 in Moto3, new WP suspension in Moto2 and of course also a new tire manufacturer in both categories. All these new features will make it a very interesting and challenging year at the same time. Again, we will have in both categories a combination of experience and young talent. Jose Antonio has shown that he will be one of the top guys in Moto3 and we are so proud to see how much he has improved since last year. Xabi Zurutuza will be our rookie rider, but he also has shown a good pace and adaptation to the team. In Moto2 we have a dynamic duo with the experienced Celestino Vietti and the strong rookie Deniz Öncü. We are really excited with this next chapter and of course very thankful for KTM and Red Bull for their dedication for another year in the World Championship".

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “The power of our road racing projects lies in the trust we have with people like Aki, and the amazing standards he keeps. His record in Moto3 and Moto2 is phenomenal and that’s why we’re excited to see what will happen with these four young boys in 2024. Xabi and Deniz will have a lot of learning to do but we know their abilities as racers and we also know their energy. Jose Antonio and Celestino want to move to the next level for results and performances and those targets are achievable. As 2024 goes on then the KTM GP Academy looks hard at the present and the future and we’re very proud again that we can have all these orange bikes and possibilities at the best racetracks and some amazing championships.”