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When it comes to Enduro, KTM is the brand that instantly comes to mind for thousands of customers and fans all over the world. Let's look at the facts: 24 years after Joachim Sauer won the company's first European title riding a 350 ccm 4-stroke machine made in Mattighofen, the company has picked up no less than 42 World Enduro titles. Now KTM has responded to the challenge and is presenting the new generation of EXC bikes, including the revolutionary new 350 EXC-F Factory developed with input from KTM's E3 World Champion 2010, David Knight.
David is going to compete the new 350 EXC-F works machine in some pre-season races before the bike will see its first serious action on the World Enduro Championship circuit with the 2009 World Champion Johnny Aubert.
True to its reputation as the world market leader in sports motorcycles, KTM has thrown down the gauntlet and with this new generation of bikes, underlines the company's ongoing commitment to the sport of Enduro. The bikes are ready for the 2011 season and so is the KTM Factory team, which continues to field a blue ribbon line-up of talent: 4-times World Champion David Knight from the Isle of Man; Frenchman Johnny Aubert, 2-times World Champion and recent dominator of the 2010 ISDE and young stars and emerging talents Italian Thomas Oldrati, Cristobal Guerrero of Spain and Eero Remes of Finland. This KTM squad will attack the Enduro World Championship with podiums and titles on their minds.
Added to this quality line-up of factory riders is the king of Extreme Enduro, Poland's Taddy Blazusiak. Taddy will be on the starting grid for every race that boasts the title of "tough". He will also be out to retain his titles in the World Indoor Enduro, the US Endurocross and the notorious Erzberg Hare Scramble. And when his schedule permits, he'll also be on the start of the WEC.
For the company that is always "Ready to Race", there has never been a better testing ground for the development of their pure-bred factory racing machines than the world's toughest offroad challenges and the World Enduro Championship series - because the experience gained on the track is directly translated into the production of the series models. For decades KTM motorcycles have all carried the company's racing DNA and this has never been more evident than with the new generation of bikes. The KTM R&D team from Mattighofen are tireless in their efforts to constantly improve on what is already good. Every bike that rolls off the production line is an example of the experience gained on the track-tested bikes of the company's own factory team. This dedication has allowed KTM to absorb a market share of almost 50% but the story doesn't stop there: the new 350 EXC-F Factory is the perfect example of the "Ready to Race" Orange spirit and absolute proof that when i t comes to development, KTM never stands still.
REVOLUTION AND EVOLUTION
After a very successful Motocross season last year with Tony Cairoli winning the MX1 World Championship on the 350 SX-F factory machine in its first year of competition, KTM is now ready to make its mark on the Enduro segment with the same style and flair. The revolutionary new 350 EXC-F Factory is the bike that is about to turn the world of Enduro upside down. This is a completely new Enduro racing machine that will represent the new benchmark with its light-weight chrome-moly PDS chassis, the most modern bodywork and a new PDS rear suspension combined with the compact and powerful new 350 EXC-F engine.
The result: playful handling, minimal weight and perfect Enduro engine characteristics.
When compared to the 350 SX-F, this is a new DOHC power house that has been especially developed for Enduro. It features a new configuration of the cylinder head (valve timing, reduced compression ratio), heavier and stronger generator, new crank shaft with more inertia, a 6-speed Enduro transmission, clutch unit with an internal damping mechanisms and diaphragm spring. It also has a kick starter as well as the electric starter. Last but not least, the 350 EXC-F Factory is the first bike in the enduro competition range that is fitted with a new engine management system (EMS) made by Keihin, which features a 42 mm throttle body for the EFI.
The light-weight design of the engine is extremely compact with almost the same size as the KTM 250 EXC-F. 350 cc deliver a very broad and tractable power band and a very dynamic engine characteristic. With a peak performance above 45 hp at 10,000 rpm the 350 EXC-F will be powerful enough to beat any 450 in the E2 class.
INTERVIEW WITH KTM MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR PIT BEIRER
Pit, after the fantastic success on Motocross in 2010, KTM puts new efforts in the Enduro. What is the strategy for this 2011 WEC season?
The strategy is very clear. We want to prepare ourselves as good as we can to compete in all classes and fight for the world title. After we had such a great success with our new Moto Cross bike, we can't wait to see the new Enduro bike on the track.
Together with Stefan Everts, you have been part of the development of the 350 SX-F, from the first draft, until the fantastic MX1 world title won in 2010. Now the project "350" goes on Enduro and Johnny Aubert: this will be the pair to beat in 2011?
Absolutely, we learned a lot from the bike development together with Stefan. We used the same philosophy and knowledge to make a strong Race bike for enduro. No compromise, a bike must have an easy handling, must be stabile on fast sections and you need a lot of power with good control.I am sure the new 350 will fulfil this request and Johnny Aubert together with this bike will be a strong package.
The 2011 Enduro Factory Team: champions like David and Johnny are together with young talents from Spain, Finland, Italy, like Cristobàl Guerrero, Eero Remes and Thomas Oldrati. Do you think the young guys are ready to fight with their older team mates already?
Since many years we have brought up young talents who nobody knew and years later they were World Champions. Thanks to Fabio Farioli we have always this lucky hand to find these great guys.There is always the question can the young and wild generation beat the experience of the ``legends``, but for us it is a pleasure to work with these athletes and the mix of both.The young guys they bring in the speed and the unbelievable motivation and the older ones use their experience. The whole team gets stronger this way.This is the great part of Racing, nobody knows before the season what is coming up, we just need to prepare our self very well.
What is the future for KTM in the offroad motorsport in the medium term?
During the recent years we managed to put ourselves in a great position in the offroad world. We won all the titles which were important for us. I would say, now the difficult part will start for us, we need to keep ourselves in this leading position. But thanks to a great board of directors and an unbelievable group of engineers in the R&D department, I can tell you KTM is fully committed to offroad and we will take every single title fight in the offroad world very seriously. In short and medium term KTM will be brand to beat...
INTERVIEW WITH FABIO FARIOLI, DIRECTOR OF THE KTM ENDURO FACTORY TEAM
Fabio, a new 2011 season full of things to do and expectations. You are the one with the closest contact with the riders and the team so what are your feelings and expectations looking ahead to this season?
This 2011 season is like a new life for us, we have the new generation bikes and also some new riders so in some ways we'll be making a fresh start. But what I can say is that we all have a lot of enthusiasm and if it was up to the riders, they would like to start the season even earlier. They can't wait to compete on their new bikes! 2010 was good for us. We won one of the top titles and we had all the riders on podium. Now this year, like every year, we start with the aim of winning all the titles!
The Enduro Factory Team will be developing the new EXC generation on the race track, and especially the new 350 EXC-F Factory. What are your first impressions after the pre-season test?
It's a completely different bike from the last one. We've made a real step into the future with this bike. All the riders were very happy after just a few minutes on the new bike. They already felt faster when compared to the past. Now we are still working, but I can say that we have already reached the next level!
Tell us a bit about the different characters of the three young riders of the team: Remes, Guerrero and Oldrati.
We have the three best young riders currently on the scene. I think they are the future of our sport. They have a different riding style and approach to the race and they also have a different lifestyle. Eero Remes is typically Finnish. He doesn't have too much to say but when he's on the bike it sings for him! He's incredibly fast on the MX tests and now he's much faster in the extreme tests. Cristobal Guerrero is our new rider from Spain. He has always ridden a Japanese bike so he's discovered a new dimension of the sport with our bike and our factory team. He's going to show us how fast he can ride. He's very impressive on hard terrain. Thomas Oldrati comes from Bergamo in Italy so he was born into the world of KTM Enduro. He's really strong on the extreme and difficult Enduro tests because he's used to working hard when he rides at home in Italy because that's where Enduro is really at home!
David Knight and Johnny Aubert are two top riders of different nationalities, extraction, physical size and riding style. Can you summarize the distinctive features of the two?
Both of them are great champions. Both are really talented and are extremely different personalities. I have never known a rider with more passion for motorcycles than David. He is always thinking about bikes and engines, it doesn't matter what kind, as long as they are the ones that use fuel! He has an aggressive style and he's a big physically powerful guy. He does a lot of training in all conditions (sun, rain, fog - even in the dark with a light on his bike and helmet!). And he's very, very fast, especially in a difficult situation. He comes from the Isle of Man, maybe this is the secret?
Johnny never seems to be under pressure and he never looks nervous. He has a smooth style of riding and this makes him incredibly fast in nearly all conditions, even though he might not look crazy on the bike! And he's from France so he knows all about riding in the mud and this makes him very impressive in slippery conditions.
David always works to improve something on the bike or suspension. When Johnny is happy with the setting and the bike he doesn't work on it anymore unless there's a problem. David likes to test the bike two hours before the race; Johnny takes it out five minutes before the start.
They might be very different but I am honored to have these two great champions in our factory team!
Your comments about the 2011 WEC: Which races will be the most important ones for the final result of the season?
When we talk about the Indoor championship, for sure it's Barcelona and the last one, in Portugal. This is where the title will be decided. In the WEC there will be top races again in Spain and Portugal at the beginning of the season. Obviously Italy is very important and there'll be a big show in France for the final races of the season. We also have two new races on the calendar this year, in Romania and Andorra. We are curious…