The 2023 MotoGP season begins at Portimao next weekend and Red Bull KTM team manager Francesco Guidotti has provided an honest analysis of the situation at the Austrian manufacturer.
The four KTM riders spent the majority of the test last weekend near the bottom of the timesheets, with only Brad Binder’s “insane” lap moving the South African up to eighth.
Newly signed Jack Miller was 17th (+0.941s), followed by the GASGAS bikes of Pol Espargaro in 18th as rookie Augusto Fernandez placed 22nd.
“We are not happy. Of course we are not where we want to be,” Guidotti said. “We face some unexpected issues… So we really have to understand this strange behaviour and solve it quickly because we really are far.”
“We know we couldn’t close the gap in one winter, but then we miss maybe more and we have to understand better,” continued Guidotti.
“The rider feeling from Miller’s side is not too bad, but is still slow… He’s getting confidence and speed run-by-run but of course it’s still not enough.”
“For Brad, it’s a big surprise for him because it’s not the bike he was used to riding and the feeling is completely different.”
“We don’t have enough time to maybe solve everything, but for sure we have to solve something and give the riders a better package.”
Miller, a former Ducati race winner, maintained that he is becoming more at ease with the KTM day after day, but Binder believed that the RC16’s rear grip has suffered as a result of the bike’s improved turning ability.
“My feeling with this bike has been the same since I rode it for the first time at Valencia,” Binder said at Portimao.
“We’ve tried a lot of set ups and different things. Some things have helped me have a bit of a better feeling but I have one issue… we need rear grip.”
“The bike is spinning a lot and when we brake we don’t have a lot of contact. It’s something that has been quite difficult to solve at the moment.”
“The guys did a great job finding some of the things we’re looking for [for 2023]. The bike’s lighter, it turns a little bit more. but it came at the expense of a lot of rear grip.”
A solution to the rear grip problems won’t come from set-up tweaks alone as hardware is also needed according to Binder, who was getting ready to leave Portimao.
The same Portuguese track will host the 2023 season’s first race next weekend.