Ominous improvement of KTM set to be a big threat to Ducati

“I know that KTM have some strengths with their machine to fight the opposition.”

Jack Miller, Portuguese MotoGP, 23 March
Jack Miller, Portuguese MotoGP, 23 March

KTM have been praised for the lack of weaknesses to their bike, as demonstrated at the Portuguese MotoGP.

The manufacturer which entered 2024 aiming to be Ducati’s biggest competitors, underlined the threat that they pose in Portimao.

Tech3 GASGAS’ Pedro Acosta was on the podium, ahead of factory duo Brad Binder and Jack Miller.

Although the Ducati GP24 remains the best bike in MotoGP (Pramac’s Jorge Martin won in Portimao ahead of factory Ducati rider Enea Bastianini), KTM are making their presence felt.

“I still think that KTM are, overall, in a good position,” broadcaster Simon Crafar reported from the paddock.

“There will be some tracks, like Qatar, where they suffer. Maybe Thailand, with rear grip.

“But they’ve made a big step in a lot of areas.

“Maybe, by the time we get to Thailand, they will have fixed that small weakness.

“They didn’t look to be a lot of weaknesses, at all.

“I know that KTM have some strengths with their machine to fight the opposition.”

Teenage rookie Acosta has stolen the show this season so far.

He became the third-youngest rookie to finish on a premier class podium in Portimao, after a race where he overtook the two factory KTM riders plus Marc Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia.

“Two years ago he was stood on the podium with Remy Gardner, who had beaten him,” Crafar remembered.

“It was a great podium! In his rookie season in Moto2.

“But he was filthy. People gave him a hard time about not being happy with his first podium in Moto2.

“I went to his debrief, and he was saying all the right things which his team had told him to say, I think.

“But he wasn’t happy. He was filthy. I loved it!

“Because he wants more. I smiled and went ‘that kid wants more’.

“He won’t be happy until he’s winning.

“It’s plain for everyone to see. He’s a winner.”

Acosta might yet prove to be the ace up KTM’s sleeve.

They rejigged their rider line-up to accommodate him when he demanded the step up from Moto2, which he won last year, meaning Pol Espargaro was demoted from his race seat.

Acosta is already applying pressure for a factory KTM seat in 2025 when a rider merry-go-round is anticipated.

But Binder is second in the MotoGP standings after two rounds, behind Pramac’s Martin.

And Miller - whose future was under intense scrutiny, particularly after a desperate 21st-placed finish at the season-opener in Qatar - has restored confidence in his own ability after a strong Portimao round.

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