Austrian bike manufacturer KTM has recently publicized its plan of supplying bikes to a satellite team for the upcoming 2018 MotoGP season. KTM is also making its full-time MotoGP premiere class debut this year, following the company's extensive testing program last year and a single off-race appearance.
KTM said that it will field Pol Espargo and Bradley Smith for this year's MotoGP season. The company added that it is also aiming a wildcard start for test driver Mika Kallio. KTM chief executive officer Stefan Pierer said that the company is poised to expand its presence in the MotoGP scene this season.
MotoGP promoter Dorna and teams have finalized an agreement to have a 24-bike grid this season. Six bike brands will fill up the grid with each brand fielding two work bikes and two satellite bikes.
Prior to this year's new rule, Aprilia, KTM, and Suzuki only field their own work machines. On the other hand, Ducati accounts for eight of the 23 bikes. According to Motor Sport, these eight bikes are fielded under Ducati's own banner and three other teams which are Aspar, Avintia, and Pramac.
In a statement acquired by Auto Sport, Pierer said, "We are focusing on the factory team in the first year. We have a five-year contract with Dorna, we already have agreed that in the second year we are also providing material and bikes for a private team."
KTM will field the brand new RC16 bike for this year's MotoGP season. Both riders, Espargo and Smith, debut under the KTM banner during the test drive at Valencia in November 2016. The two drivers were also at Sepand and Phillip Island early this year. Before the upcoming MotoGP season opens, KTM will have another drive at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar on March 10.