2021 has been a memorable campaign for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing across the disciplines. Spirited presence in at least six different spheres of motorcycle competition has delivered notable success as well as the full range of emotions. Among the elation and the adversity on track and off, KTM were able to embellish stories and welcome new silverware with a total of 327 FIM world titles now in their canon.
2021 sprung back to speed after a logistically challenging 2020 with plenty of pace and prizes. The sand of Saudi Arabia hosted the 43rd Dakar Rally in January and Sam Sunderland was able to take his KTM 450 RALLY to the third step of the overall podium. Meanwhile the 2021 AMA Supercross Championship had begun in the United States and Cooper Webb regained the championship he won in 2019 with a strong and consistent battle against tough opposition. Webb guided the KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION to the company’s fifth title in seven years. KTM North America’s impressive racing program also welcomed a high profile return to the AMA American Flat Track series.
Back in Europe Red Bull KTM Factory Racing soon weaved their strong influence on the FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship. Jeffrey Herlings won a stunning contest that traversed 18 rounds and 36 motos to go down to the very last laps of the season. The Dutchman’s second MXGP crown also represented KTM’s third in the last half a decade with the KTM 450 SX-F. Red Bull KTM were the only Grand Prix team to see all six of their riders – Herlings, Tony Cairoli and Jorge Prado in the MXGP class and Tom Vialle, Mattia Guadagnini and Rene Hofer with the KTM 250 SX-F in MX2 – stand on the top of a Grand Prix rostrum during the year. Prado and Vialle dominated the competition in terms of holeshots and KTM gave motocross icon Cairoli a deserving send-off as the nine-time world champion ended an 18-year career at Mantova, Italy in November. Cairoli, Guadagnini, Herlings and Hofer all excelled with podium presence at the 2021 Motocross of Nations in Italy as the home country triumphed and Hofer owned the MX2 category.
KTM were able to extend their presence through the EMX European Championship development period with their SX technology and laid a promising new base thanks to the European Junior e-Motocross series; an educational scheme for youngsters taking place on sections of Grand Prix circuits and at MXGP fixtures with KTM SX-E 5. The inaugural edition was extremely popular and whet the appetite of families across Europe.
KTM came back to force in the FIM Enduro World Championship in 2021, where Red Bull KTM’s Josep Garcia grasped his second E2 championship (and first title with the KTM 350 EXC-F) and was runner-up in EnduroGP, as well as the outright winner at the prestigious International Six Days Enduro. Teammate Manuel Lettenbichler claimed victory at the daunting Red Bull Romaniacs for the third year in a row aboard the KTM 300 EXC TPI and only narrowly lost out on the FIM Hard Enduro crown at the last round having finished on the podium at every race of the series. Also on the dirt, Matthias Walkner earned the distinction of FIM Cross-Country Ralllies World Champion and KTM continued to reign in the WORCS series in the U.S.
KTM’s reach and influence offroad remains elite and 2021 was another illustration of the power of the organization, the equipment and the athletes but it was also a year in which the road racing arm of the department continued to blossom.
2021 was KTM’s fifth year on the MotoGP grid and the third with a full four-rider line-up thanks to both the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing teams. Two wins, five podiums and a joint top-speed record were bagged once the season began in Qatar and ended in Valencia.
Brad Binder increased his tally of triumphs to two in two terms with his brave decision to remain on dry, slick tyres for the final laps of a wet Motorrad Grand prix von Österreich at the Red Bull Ring. The South African classified 6th in the final championship standings with the RC16 after being 11th during 2020 in his rookie outing. He also blasted to 362.4km/h at Mugello, Italy to equal the fastest speed recorded in the history of the sport. Miguel Oliveira now has three Grand Prix wins with KTM after running to the checkered flag in Catalunya during the summer. The thrilling feat came in a spell of three podium appearances for the talented Portuguese. The Red Bull KTM Ajo team were rampant in both Moto3 and Moto2 as the KTM GP Academy witnessed Grand Prix spoils for four different riders and the fifth Moto3 world championship since 2012 with star rookie Pedro Acosta blitzing the field. Remy Gardner became the first Australian Moto2 World Champion after a close duel with teammate Raul Fernandez as both Ajo racers finished 1st-2nd seven times from 18 rounds and set new milestones in the division through 13 wins. The Red Bull KTM Tech3 team also flourished in Moto3 with both Deniz Öncü and Ayumu Sasaki collecting trophies on the KTM RC4.
The KTM RC 250 R was the platform for the latest edition of the Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup, that won by Spaniard David Alonso. The Northern Talent Cup (ruled by Jakub Gurecky) and the Austrian Junior Cup (Leo Rammerstorfer was the #1) both used RC4R motorcycle and this meant at select rounds of 2021 MotoGP there were more than 70 KTM race bikes circulating Grand Prix tracks on a single weekend.
While 2021 has been a resounding success on many levels, KTM have also had to endure some difficult and emotional moments and thoughts of the late Jason Dupasquier and Rene Hofer and their respective families will remain at the forefront long after another racing year begins.
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “To take this company to the track around the world means a big movement of so many pieces and the big key to the success comes from the people involved. From the brilliant riders - at the beginning, middle and end of their careers - to the guys at the factory, those in the pitlanes and the paddocks and the trucks, the whole operation needs a special focus to make it all work. When we can see the results of our job then this makes me very proud. We’ve celebrated this season but we’ve also had cause for tears and, at times, it has been very emotional. I just want to take this moment to thank everyone who has played their part and, as ever, we will look forward and give our best to be right at the front again when another racing year starts.”