Crash.Net MotoGP News

KTM beats F1 with secret KERS debut!

1 January 1901

KTM racing boss Harald Bartol has revealed that the factory raced with a secret Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) fitted to Tommy Koyama's motorcycle during the season-ending 125cc Valencian Grand Prix.

KERS, which stores energy during braking and releases it under acceleration, will be allowed in F1 from the 2009 season, but KTM looks to have beaten the four-wheel championship to the honour of being the first to race it in a grand prix.

Koyama shot from 15th on the grid to eighth within three corners, but then made a mistake and slipped back to 16th by the end of the first lap. The Japanese fought his way back up to seventh by the chequered flag.

Koyama's highest top speed during the race was 219.6km/h compared with 226.3km/h by Aprilia's Stefan Bradl - and Koyama was only the third fastest KTM rider - suggesting KERS did not make an overwhelming difference.

Nevertheless, Bartol has revealed that the system develops an extra 2kW (2.68hp) and was used by KTM's 2009 signing Marc Marquez at the recent (wet) Valencia test.

“It is a hybrid system,” Solo Moto quotes Bartol as saying. “Under braking some condensers [capacitors] are charged - we do not call them batteries because a battery would never charge so quickly in deceleration - and the energy is then released during the following straight. That gives us some 2 kW extra, although we only use it when the motorcycle is in third, fourth, fifth or sixth gear.”

Whilst using KERS naturally carries a weight penalty, this is balanced by the 125cc class having a minimum weight limit of 136kg for rider and bike combined (the 250GP and MotoGP classes only enforce a weight limit for the bike).

Bartol did not reveal how much the KERS system weighs, but Koyama and Marquez are two of the smallest riders in the field and need ballast to reach the minimum weight anyway.