14 September 2016
Moto3: Red Bull KTM confirms Niccolo Antonelli for 2017
"I'm very happy to join Red Bull KTM Ajo because it is a dream come true" - Niccolo Antonelli.
Niccolo Antonelli will join the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team next season, in place of Brad Binder.
Binder, the runaway 2016 title leader, is moving up to Moto2 with the new KTM Ajo project, with Antonelli joining the retained Bo Bendsneyder.
Antonelli is in his fifth Moto3 season, having won three races and finished a best of fifth overall in last year's world championship. The 20-year-old Italian is currently tenth in this year's standings for the Ongetta-Rivacold Honda team.
"I'm very happy to join Red Bull KTM Ajo because it is a dream come true," Antonelli said. "This is a team that has produced several World Champions and that has always fought to be at the top, so I want to learn a lot here next year. The aim is to fight for victory in every race, or at least be on the podium when that is not possible.
"I want to improve on what I've done in the last two years in the World Championship and will fight as much as I can to do this. It is exciting to ride a KTM again. I'm sure the bike is very different compared with that I rode in 2014 – even better – and I can't wait to try it out."
Bendsneyder, who achieved his first grand prix podium at the British Grand Prix, has scored points in seven of the 13 races contested so far in his rookie season.
"To be on the team one more year is a great opportunity," said the Dutch teenager. "I want to thank Aki [Ajo] for trusting me and also Red Bull, KTM and the other partners. Now we have to concentrate on finishing this year well, and then we'll think about next season. I am convinced that we will do a good job. We have to keep our feet on the ground and work hard every day.
"It will be nice to work with a new teammate. I've felt very comfortable with Brad [Binder] and I'm sure I will also be so with Niccolo [Antonelli]. I'm looking forward to working with him. This team is like a family and I really like that. Everyone is very sincere, they always say things directly and work to improve as a team. This is the most important thing.
"Next year I will do my best and see if I can be at the front, but first I want to concentrate on finishing this year well."
"Because of his work and perfect attitude at all times, I am very happy to continue having Bo in the team," declared team boss Aki Ajo. "I am, of course, very pleased with the rider who will occupy the place Brad has left behind as he moves up to Moto2. Niccolo [Antonelli] is the right person for the job. He is a rider who has a method and a way of working that are very similar to Brad's, and to many of the riders we've had on the team in the past. I'm sure that they will form another great team. I do not want to miss this opportunity to thank Red Bull, KTM and our other partners for their confidence in Ajo Motorsport."
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