Red Bull KTM Factory Racing once again convened at the Sepang International Circuit and in the hot and sweaty Malaysian climate to increase the intensity of their preparation work for 2023 MotoGP. After the three-day official test, Brad Binder rested 14th fastest while new recruit Jack Miller was 18th as the team diligently threaded through an analysis program of setup for the ’23 KTM RC16.
The two-and-a-half month MotoGP winter break ended with engines refired in the sweltering pitlane of Sepang; host of the nineteenth round of 21 on the 2023 schedule. Although the threat of rain showers was typical for this time of year in Malaysia Red Bull KTM were able to give racers Brad Binder and Jack Miller plenty of work and food for thought as the crew waded through configuration options for the KTM RC16 and before the homologation window closes for the season.
The KTM Factory Racing test squad had already been busy for three days in the ‘shakedown’ test prior to the arrival of the Grand Prix race teams but both Binder and Miller had many options and evaluations to make through Friday, Saturday and Sunday where they accrued over 300 laps of the varied circuit.
The South African ended the overall session 14th fastest and less than a second from the top spot, while Miller continued his adaptation to the KTM RC16 and was close behind, only a few tenths from his new teammate.
KTM and the rest of the factories will now have one month to fabricate the second round of components and possible solutions for the 2023 settings. The final test of the MotoGP pre-season will take place at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal on March 11-12.
Brad Binder: “We got through a lot of different of things, a lot of different parts and on the last day we had something new every time we left the pitlane. So, we accumulated a lot of information going forward and data for the engineers to go through. I think we narrowed down our options quite a bit and we are getting closer to our package that we’ll start the season with. My goal in Portimao is to continue that process and I want to start the first Grand Prix with the best possible combination from all the new material we’ve tried so far. The boys worked hard here to get as much done as we can. We had good track time and so far, so good.”
Jack Miller: “By the last day we were at a point with the bike where we were making good steps with the setup and we were looking how I could get more comfortable. We continued to tweak the geometry and the last adjustment allowed me to feel decent with used tires. I was very happy with the new engine and I’m getting much more understanding of the bike and what I need from it. That’s the process. We’ll continue with that in Portimao and I think we ticked as many boxes as we could here in Malaysia.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “We did a massive amount of work here and everybody involved made an incredible effort. We collected all the information we could and we need to continue working as hard as we can in the next weeks to find the next step for the second test in Portugal. We’d like to find a few more tenths of a second. We had enough tires here to work on bike setup but not so much on bike development as we were restricted to quite short runs and the weather didn’t help so much, especially on the second day. Anyway, we are full gas to give our riders the best possible package, so we are happy but we know we can still do more.”
Sebastian Risse, Red Bull KTM Technical Manager MotoGP: “A very productive test here where we had many new ideas, new riders and new staff! Overall, I think we did a really good job. The bike has made a step forward and we have a clear idea of where to go now. We now need to check how the package works on what will be quite a different track and in quite different conditions in Portugal. We have more work to do in the next month but we’ll be ready for the first race.”
Sepang Official Test final combined times
1. Luca Marini (ITA) Ducati 1:57.889
2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.080
3. Maverick Viñales (ESP) Aprilia +0.147
4. Enea Bastianini (ITA) Ducati +0.260
5. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +0.315
14. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.923
18. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.012