Thomas Luthi has made his first appearance as part of the KTM MotoGP test team as the incoming manufacturer continues preparations for its 2017 return.
Luthi was first announced as part of a MotoGP test team that also included Randy de Puniet and Mika Kallio, but a two-day outing at the high-speed Mugello circuit marks the first time the Swiss rider has had a chance to ride the RC16.
Only his second-ever chance to ride MotoGP machinery, 11 years on from a brief test aboard a Honda in the wake of his 125cc title win, Luthi was delighted to get proper mileage on the board.
“After I won the 125 World Championship title in 2005 I was able to do a few laps on a MotoGP bike on a half dry circuit, but this was for me the first real tests on such a bike. And despite the power, which you immediately feel, it was unbelievable how ride-able the KTM RC16 was from the first lap.
“Even though the long straights and the hills and corners of this circuit are probably not the easiest for a MotoGP rookie, I was quickly able to be in Mika's range and learn a lot. My clear priority still lies with Moto2 but after these two days I'll be less nervous, and I'll look forward to the next tests side-by-side with the top guys in the premiere class.”
With Kallio continuing development of the RC16 alongside Luthi, the Finn was pleased to trial the bike on a different circuit to Jerez.
“It was good that we tested different setups on three very different circuits, especially here in Mugello we were able to gather more information about the chassis. This is very important for the factory engineers for the bike's further development.
“The feeling was best for me in Jerez, but here we again needed a different setup. We know where we have to improve and the data and information we collect helps us to move onto the next step. The short breaks between the last three tests made it easier for me as a rider to find my rhythm.
“The next test will again have a new character and it'll be cool to measure our progress compared to the others and to see where they are faster.”