Herve Poncharal says his new-look Red Bull KTM Tech3 squad will push throughout the 2019 MotoGP season to close the gap to both the factory KTM riders and the rest of the grid as he anticipates a fresh start for his team.

The Tech3 team grabbed headlines last year by ending its long-standing Yamaha partnership to start a new collaboration with KTM, becoming the Austrian brand’s new satellite squad from 2019, and has spent the winter getting up to speed with the RC16.

While Poncharal expects a debut season of learning with the Austrian manufacturer, he is relishing “a new chapter” and opportunity in MotoGP.

“Finally, we are in Qatar and the 2019 MotoGP season is going to start,” Poncharal said. “A new season beginning is always something very exciting, but clearly for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team this year is even more thrilling than the previous because we are opening a new chapter, we will commence a new adventure, we have a new motorcycle manufacturer working with us with KTM, a new title sponsor with Red Bull and a new oil partner with Elf, so it seems we are almost starting from scratch.

“Of course, we were working really hard during off-season in Spain, Malaysia and Qatar, but we are also very eager and impatient to see what is going happen in first race. Clearly, we are not in a position at moment where we can challenge the top, but the mission this season is to reduce the gap to the fastest riders.”

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With rookie Miguel Oliveira joining Tech3’s ranks alongside Hafizh Syahrin, with Johann Zarco stepping up to the factory KTM squad, Poncharal has made his demands clear for both riders and sees 2019 as a key year to build momentum with KTM which starts in Qatar this weekend.

“I believe with Miguel Oliveira, we have an incredible rider with a huge potential and the strong desire to be part of this project and making it moving forward,” he said. “Hafizh is in same spirit, he still has to forget a little bit about what he was doing on last years’ machine, but I think they get on very well together and they understand the importance of MotoGP for KTM.

“They can witness the level of commitment from the engineers in Austria, they can feel they are factory riders with a racing department behind them with evolution coming almost every test and this is what makes this new season very entertaining.

“Our target is to be as close as possible to the full factory KTM MotoGP riders and of course all together to race the level of performance of our KTM RC16 machine and the whole team is 100% dedicated to this mission. We can’t wait to start on Friday night in Losail.”

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