KTM is yet to beat the best race result of its rookie MotoGP season, but the factory insists it is 'not panicking' and will eventually reach its victory goal, no matter how long it takes.

"The second year is always tougher than the first," said KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, adding that Pol Espargaro's pre-season accident at Sepang had been a factor, "but overall I think it's step-by-step progress.

"Like everything we do, we want to touch the podium and finally be top of the podium. It doesn't matter how long it takes, we will do it," Pierer declared.

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Ninth place for Espargaro in last year's Czech Republic and Australian rounds marked the high-point of KTM's impressive rookie campaign.

Hopes of continuing the upward trajectory in 2018 have so far been dashed with a peak of tenth place, but that doesn't necessarily mean the RC16 has dropped further from the top.

"We are not panicking, we know what we are doing and all the steps are coming," said KTM Motorsports Director Pit Beirer. "The difficulties in this class were expected and when things went too good [last year] we always said 'wait, there will be hard days'. 

"So now we get them, but the only sad days for us are when riders get injured. Having difficult competition in MotoGP is not making us sad or panicking, that's the thing we are going to fix.

"It looks on the results sometimes not much better than last year, but we have more than double the points of last year at this time. 

"In every race until Brno we were closer to the winner than last year - in some races significantly, up to 40 seconds like in Assen. Finishing 20-seconds behind a guy like Marc Marquez at his best is not a disaster. 

"So everything is okay but the competition is unbelievable strong and everything is so squeezed together. One-second in qualifying can sometimes mean you are in 18th position!

"We know we need to do another step to really be in the spotlight and not just participants. So we want to go further forward, but no panic."

'Road Racing is 75% brand awareness'

Unlike its rivals, KTM has no 1000cc production sport bike to directly market as a result of the new MotoGP programme.

"I think the Supersport segment is a very small segment and we think a bike with that power should go on a closed course," Pierer explained. "Road Racing for us is 75% about creating brand awareness and not just in the developed markets, but especially in emerging markets. 

"So we are so happy that Herve [Tech3] has a rider from Malaysia, which is a very important market for us.

"We are going racing because we want to sell motorcycles. That's the reason. So far it works and that's the reason that we decided to step into the most expensive, difficult and competitive segment; MotoGP. In the last two years, we can already see the result."

'The steel frame is an advantage'

Pierer also confirmed that the factory has no plans to abandon the steel trellis frame and join its MotoGP competitors in using an aluminium chassis.

"The steel frame is an advantage compared to the aluminium frame. I can tell you," he said. "We can see in every segment from offroad to Moto2, why we are getting quicker at the end of the race is caused by the frame and you will see sooner or later similar things in MotoGP. That's our advantage. 

"We have a unique position. We are the market leader in steel frames and we will stick to that. We are the most experienced."

KTM has scored 41 constructor points - and is ahead of Aprilia - after the opening eleven rounds of this season, compared with 29 points at the same stage last year. 

It's top-ranked rider, Pol Espargaro, is 15th in the riders' standings (32 points) despite missing the last two rounds due to injury, compared with 19th (21 points) last season.

Johann Zarco will join the factory team in place of Bradley Smith in 2019, when the Tech3 team will raise the number of RC16s on the grid to four machines.

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