Pit Beirer interview
It’s been a very successful season for the Red Bull KTM Factory efforts. Be it in America, Europe, Africa, on supercross, motocross, enduro, rally, moto3 or even MotoGP, the success and participation has been what we have come to expect from this very stroung Austrian company.
We caught up with KTM Sports Director, Pit Beirer and asked him about the sensational 2016, and where the company is going in 2017.
MXlarge: Pit, it’s been a big year for KTM, victories in so many different categories, from Supercross, Motocross, Enduro, Rally, Moto3, MotoGP. Is there a highlight for you?
Beirer: There are many activities at KTM for highlights. What should I tell you now. There were a few. Supercross title with Ryan Dungey, MX2 title for Jeffrey Herlings and entering into MotoGP are the three highlights for me.
MXlarge: KTM entered into MotoGP this year, and I can imagine MotoGP is a class that is really tough to move forward in. How quickly do you think that is possible?
Beirer: For me, it wasn’t a surprise or something negative so far, because I knew the challenge we are looking at. All the motorsport department, the board of directors, we are all realistic, and we are entering a new world, where all the other factories are pushing so much and so crazy, that you can’t just pass them and skip 20 years or experience in that class. It’s a huge effort and we are at the bottom of the grid, and we know that, but we also have a strong commitment and we don’t want to stay there.
MXlarge: I am not a massive MotoGP fan, but obviously KTM moving to MotoGP is interesting for the MX fans, but how has the interest been from MotoGP fans and media?
Beirer: That has been pretty overwhelming. The media requests and the interest from the fans, but also just people in the street, or even in my area. They all talk about MotoGP, because it’s still from all the motorcycle disciplines, the sport that is seen on television all around the world. So it you enter a class where Valentino Rossi rides, and everyone knows him, then it’s important for us. He had a lot more media requests than any other sport we are involved in. It is a very important class to be in, and it doesn’t mean our other sports are not important, but interest in MotoGP is very big.
MXlarge: When you have the amount of success, like the AMA Supercross, the MX2 title, the SMX title, the Moto3 title, and so many more in in Enduro and Rally. Clearly the most successful factory in two wheeled sport. Is it then possible to be disappointed with not winning the MXGP title?
Beirer: Absolutely not, and you remember my words in the past and I repeat them to you again. We are not checking in just for titles, and we can’t buy them, and we don’t want to buy them. What I want is all disciplines with 100% focus, the best staff, and the best riders together in a team. For my job it’s hard to keep track of all the disciplines, but for me it’s like a castle, and you need a clear leader and a strong staff. I ask my people to prepare as hard as we can and be prepared for the championship. That is what I push for, and I would be mad if we didn’t give it 100%. But if other guys beat us because they are better, or if we have bad luck with injuries, that isn’t disappointment, that is just reality from the highest level. But we will always try and bring as many championships to KTM as we can. I have zero disappointment in the 2016 season.
MXlarge: There is all the talk of the Stewart brothers, what they are going to do. I have talked to teams in Europe that have had contact with them, have KTM had any contact with the Stewarts and is there even space for them at KTM?
Beirer: There is no room, we made our plans some time ago, and we have strong riders in both brands, both with KTM and Husqvarna, so for us there wasn’t any big thought from our side.
MXLarge: So they didn’t contact you?
Beirer: No, no contact.
MXlarge: Jeffrey Herlings moving to MXGP, obviously everyone is excited about that. Watching the footage from the Red Bull Knock Out, this guy has so much talent. In my opinion I don’t see anyone doing what he is doing, not even Ken Roczen. Everbody does make the comment, he gets excited and he makes mistakes. How can he correct that and how do you think he will do in MXGP?
Beirer: You know, it’s no secret I love this kid, in fact he isn’t a kid anymore, he has grown up. The development of this guy as he works with us is outstanding to see. He was just a fast kid, sometimes crazy, sometimes not, but I see him as a very strong package for the future. He is so committed, and he works so hard, he spends so many hours on the bike, nobody knows the bike as well as him, and I don’t know any rider who rides as much as him. We all know the risk this sport has, and its nothing new, the sport has its risks. I see how well prepared he is, and I think the luck wasn’t on his side with some of his injuries. Three or four mistakes he made that he really had to pay a price. The 85cc crash was unnecessary, was nothing to do with mistakes on his factory bike. I think this year, the win in MX2, that gave him the perfect platform for MXGP. I think the win this year gave him confidence and peace inside that the job is done in MX2, and he can move to the next class. I want to touch wood and hope all my riders stay healthy and can compete for the championships in 2017.
MXlarge: What about Antonio Cairoli. Two years of injuries, and no championship, getting older. Obviously you are KTM and hope for success for him.
Beirer: He is at an age where every year, you have to decide if you can do it at the top level, or if it’s time to stop, all sportsmen of his calibre have to do. He is really committed to not give up, and he is highly motivated to show he is a winning rider. I am 100% behind him, and feel he can come back. It is also interesting for us to see if the wild, strong young boy, will beat the experience, the speed and the ability of an Antonio Cairoli. We still believe in Antonio, and he will give a hard time to the competition in 2017, I am sure.
MXLarge: Of course there are many riders in the MXGP class that can win?
Beirer: I want to say there isn’t just Jeffrey and Antonio, because the competition is so tough and I think it will see many different winners and with many different winners. That might help Antonio, and I am really looking forward to this 2017 MXGP season.
MXlarge: And the calendar?
Beirer: For me, I don’t spend too much time on the calendar. It is a world championship and if we do different countries I am happy to travel around. I see a very interesting and international calendar in front of us. We don’t waste too much time on the calendar.