Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, the new outfit for 2017 MotoGP, has unveiled the RC16 — its contender for the maiden season. Mattighofen, the Austria-based team, is stepping to elite class of FIM motorcycle race after years in 125cc Moto3 series.
The new machine has been unveiled by its riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro along with KTM's riders in Moto2 and Moto3 at its base in Mattighofen. Both Smith and Espargaro raced for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 in the 2016. Espargaro, the Moto2 world champion in 2013, will compete with racing number 44. Smith, a MotoGP podium finisher, will opt for number 38. Both the riders are also former Suzuka 8H winners.
KTM announced its plan to enter MotoGP in September 2014. The RC16 made debut after a year. The outfit's test-rider, Mika Kallio, raced the machine in Valencia, Spain, in November 2016. However, he couldn't finish the race due to technical issues.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing confirmed Smith as its first rider for the 2017 season at last year's Qatar MotoGP. In June 2016, the team announced the arrival of Espargaro. Espargaro and Smith were tied for 21st (+1.970s) during the opening pre-season test in Sepang, Malaysia. At the just-finished Phillip Island test, Espargaro was at the 17th (+1.308s) and Smith at the 19th (+1.409s) position.
What left before the first round of the season, the Grand Prix of Qatar on March 26, is the final test on the same track on March 10. Other major teams such as Movistar Yamaha, Repsol Honda, Team Suzuki Ecstar and Ducati Team have already revealed their riders and bikes for the new season. With the KTM unveiling, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini is the only team left to unveil a new livery for the 2017 season.