Three hot and demanding first test days of the 2024 MotoGP season saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing plough through a wide range of ideas and parts at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. Brad Binder and Jack Miller registered the 7th and 14th fastest lap-times respectively at the Grand Prix venue but also filtered through the vast catalogue of work for the 2024 spec of the KTM RC16 and the 21-race campaign ahead.
- Acclimatisation, electronics, aerodynamics, base setting and data-gathering fill the roster of duties for the factory team and the test team at a steamy Sepang as MotoGP 2024 gets in motion
- Brad Binder ranks 7th on combined times after three days at Sepang. The South African hovered near the top of the screens for long moments and as the pace moved beneath the circuit record
- Jack Miller starts his second year on the KTM RC16 with further refinement of the 2024 package. The Australian was 14th quickest
- Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have one more test to finalize homologated aero and engine configurations for the year. The next outing will take place over two days in Qatar in just over a week
KTM’s potent testing team and crew consisting of Dani Pedrosa and Pol Espargaro fired ‘START’ on 2024 MotoGP with plenty of laps and analysis during the shakedown test in Malaysia, and before the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing outfit parked in pitlane to assess the main options for both Brad Binder and Jack Miller from Tuesday to Thursday this week.
The South African and the Australian, together with their hard-working staff and plenty of support from KTM engineering experts both at the circuit and back at KTM Motorsports HQ, tallied almost 350 laps in the three days to shred through a comprehensive job list. The goal was to chisel the first competitive shape of the KTM RC16 for the 21-GP (42 races, including the 2024 Sprints) calendar. The workload involved most aspects of the bike but perhaps most significantly the new theories the factory had for aerodynamics and to improve aspects of the 2023 machine that proved to be so competitive at the final round of the season in Spain. The pace was particularly hot with lap-times well under those recorded at Sepang for the Grand Prix last autumn.
Now onto the Lusail International Circuit on February 19-20 where the team will make their critical decisions for the opening part of the racing year and also focus on the first round of the championship at the same circuit on March 8-10.
Brad Binder, 7th: “Probably one of the best pre-season tests I’ve ever had. We have still not put everything together to see the full potential but we tried so many different things and once we have the time to select all the best parts then we’ll be in a position to make a step. I’m quite happy. The last day was about combinations, and I had a little go at a time attack. We are better than the time sheets look and once we back-check everything then I’m sure we’ll be stronger. We made progress with our electronics and the engine braking feels better, traction control also. In general we made decent headway and the guys at the factory can understand a lot more.”
Jack Miller, 14th: “A good test. A lot of different items and things on the block. The boys have done a fantastic job during the winter and the bike is working really well. I have a couple of areas I would like to improve personally with set-up but the main goal of the test was to understand the items, understand the combinations and try and build the RC16 for what will be our race bike for the 2024 season. We’re pretty close. We didn’t have the full package ready for the time attack this morning and I’m not ecstatic with the lap-times but it was the first time in the 1min 57s for me. We still need to pull our finger out. I’m looking forward to getting home, reflecting on these days and then going again in Qatar.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “Busy days, starting from the shakedown right up until the final laps here it has been intense. Happy with the work but not yet with the speed. We have some more ideas to improve, and we were getting better each day. Everyone could see our aerodynamic work, but we also did a lot with electronics, the engine and also the frame. We did a 360 job with the bike and it takes time to get up to speed between the setting changes. We are satisfied and we know the speed will come.”
Sebastian Risse, Red Bull KTM Technical Manager MotoGP: “We had one big testing program here with the test team working some things out and then the race team riders coming in to confirm those findings, make the compromises and their choices for the season. There was a lot about aerodynamics and the engine because these need to be homologated and to be honest it would be easier to ask me what we didn’t touch on the bike! We worked on almost every area: electronics, chassis stiffness, technical solutions and conceptual work. Everything was focused on what we can race this season and we are really happy with the progress we made, and for some things we were already able to understand the full potential and in some others we see the potential but need to find the right compromise in set-up. So now we are looking forward to the Qatar test and to then get ready for the first race.”
Sepang official test final combined times
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 1:56.682
2. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati +0.172
3. Enea Bastianini (ITA) Ducati +0.233
7. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:57.307
14. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:57.851