Should KTM keep 'screamer' engine?

"We're learning how to tame it and get it in the right working area, because it does have its own power band!" - Bradley Smith.
Should KTM keep 'screamer' engine?

With Honda switching to a 'big-bang' style engine next season, the new KTM is set to be the only MotoGP machine powered by an even-firing 'screamer'.

While Marc Marquez took the RC213V to this year's title, he and the other Honda riders battled corner-exit wheelies throughout the season. Taming the aggressive power delivery also made the bike exceptionally physically demanding.

On Thursday at the private Jerez MotoGP/WorldSBK test, spoke to KTM test rider Mika Kallio and new race rider Bradley Smith for their thoughts on the screamer vs big bang debate.

Given the 'hold on and hope' corner exit character sometimes seen with a screamer, Kallio - who gave the new RC16 its race debut at the Valencia season finale - was asked about any issues when the power is unleashed.

"This is something of course we are thinking about, which is the best [engine style] to use," the Finn replied.

"It seems that many bikes - if you compare how the engines were in the past - now they try to use more the bottom power, the torque and acceleration. Try to keep the tyre life better and then also find the grip out of the corners, with this [big bang] engine strategy.

"It's hard to say exactly which is the best. At the moment we are struggling to find grip, but I think it is not really the engine. It is more just the combination of the chassis and swingarm and linkage.

"It's not my decision what they will do [with the engine] for next year. For the next tests they will do some engine development, which will be interesting, but at the moment the problem is more from the chassis side than the engine."

Have you ever tested a big-bang version of the RC16 engine?

"Not really. Earlier in the season we tried little bit different engines, but basically so far what we are using now was the best and most of the testing was done with this kind of engine."

Smith, who has joined Pol Espargaro in moving to the new factory KTM project from Tech 3 Yamaha, said he is not concerned with controlling power from the 'screamer'.

"If Jerez is the most slippery track we go to - and I believe it is one of the most in terms of wheel spin - and seeing what grip we have, at the moment I'm happy," said the Englishman.

"We're learning how to tame it and get it in the right working area, because obviously it does have its own power band!

"I think it's quite different for me and Pol, because we've come from Yamaha; a super smooth inline-four engine. But it has strengths as well as weaknesses and if this is the most slippery track we go to, and we can get our head around it here, we'll be fine everywhere else.

"So we'll continue with our progress, because there are plenty more things to work on right now."

KTM, Honda, Ducati and Aprilia use a V4 layout, while Yamaha and Suzuki use inline four-cylinder engines. As well as the firing interval, KTM's RC16 is unique in using a tubular steel frame (instead of aluminium) and WP (instead of Ohlins) suspension.

"If it was something different and the company had all of its information using something else, I'd be worried. But the DNA of KTM is a tubular steel chassis and WP suspension," Smith said.

"People who said you could never win on WP have been proven wrong in Moto2 and Moto3. In Moto3 the chassis is probably even more important and Brad Binder dominated this season. So I know these guys are going to do a fantastic job, what they have done already is a great step and hopefully with my input we can make it even better."

By Peter McLaren

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