Acosta’s ‘mess’ laid bare an unacceptable KTM situation


Pedro Acosta's exit from the French Grand Prix was the first real blot on his MotoGP championship record, and he was just millimeters away from being a major blot at that – as the crash of his Gas Gas-badged KTM RC16 only threaded the needle between Alex Espargaro and Fabio di Giannantonio.

It was a fairly typical incident for the rookie to make his first non-scoring of the season, making his 10th career MotoGP start.

“Digia and Alex were getting into a fight in front of me, and might even come to it [Turn] 8 were also on the right [side]”They were hitting the brakes too early to, let's say, turn left,” Acosta explained.

“And when they realized they were too slow, they started releasing them [the brakes] – And that was the moment when I came very quickly.

“In the end, I didn't want to hit Alex and ruin the guy's race. I tried to stop the bike, and then I locked the front.”

Espargaro – as big a fan of Acosta as he is among his rivals – rejected the suggestion that he was hitting the brakes unduly early, and a cursory glance at the incident is certainly a harsh look at Acosta, even if it has become at least somewhat more understandable. After several replays.

and Acosta – who crashed on lap three while in the battle for third, leaving him feeling that “the potential was really high” and that it was “the first day of the entire season that the bike was really competitive to fight for.” Something big” – he was not entirely ashamed of his responsibility.

He described the situation as a “mess” of his own making, and said that having another crash at Le Mans after colliding with two Moto2 cars was establishing a “tradition” that was “crushing my balls”.

But the exact nature of that mistake and how serious the penalty was for Barcelona's grid – these things are at KTM's worst secondary concerns, and perhaps not real concerns at all as its new talisman learns the ropes. What should upset the bosses of parent company Pierer Mobility Group much more is that when Acosta made his long-awaited rookie mistake, their weekend was ruined.

The other three riders – a trio who all contributed to KTM's second-best manufacturer finish in MotoGP last year – didn't pick up the slack. A quarter of the season later, this has become an unacceptably regular theme.


Points after five rounds

2023

Notary – 81 points

Miller – 49 points

Fernandes – 30 points

2024

Binder – 67 points (-14)

Miller – 24 points (-25)

Fernandes – 13 points (-17)


Acosta's Tech3 teammate Augusto Fernandez has been the less surprising contender, his French Grand Prix heroics from last year now a distant memory as he continues to struggle with the RC16 and its new carbon chassis.

There was a change in setup, more in line with what Acosta runs, which dominated the weekend, and some positive signs initially, but not actually enough to establish a particularly convincing trend to make tangible progress.

But for the works KTMs, it looked like a weekend of downhill.

Brad Bender more or less torpedoed the French Grand Prix by crashing three times on Friday. He lamented spending “a lot of time on the back of the scooters” and said the scooter riders who were taking him to the pits “were riding better than I was” – and were unable to make up for that in Q1, through a combination of an electronic glitch, yellow flags and a foul. On the only proper lap that counted.

He certainly wouldn't be the last on the grid if he got a better break. But despite all this misfortune, self-inflicted or otherwise, the evidence that the pace was there to get to Q2 through any of the available methods of doing so is actually shaky at best. Those laps he lost in the first quarter to yellow flags? It didn't look like they were going to get him to Division Two anyway.

Bender's weekend was never going to recover from that, and it didn't happen. For teammate Jack Miller, Friday was more structured but there was a sprint in which Acosta held his number despite being overtaken at the start, and a Grand Prix in which he sank like a stone before crashing.

“I didn't do anything different, I stopped in the same place, and it was a kilometer per hour faster than the previous lap, not the fastest I went there,” Miller said of the front lock collision that took him out of the race. This was confirmed by his team, with team director Francesco Guidotti insisting that Miller “did nothing wrong.”

But whether I made a mistake or not, the accident was not the problem. It probably cost Miller five to six points in the same race that Acosta felt he could have won. A baffled Miller admitted that it took “all the stars aligning” to even once reach the 1 minute 31 second range where all the front runners operate.

Neither rider was shy about the fact that they were not very fast on Sunday. Binder, who posited that KTM was consistently finding less grip “in every race” compared to previous sessions of the weekend, went so far as to possibly link that to rubber from new supplier Pirelli being discontinued by Moto3 and Moto2 (who had previously run on Dunlops). Miller didn't think that was the answer, but he couldn't focus on a clearer explanation.

“It's definitely a difficult moment,” he said.

This is it. The problem for Miller, Bender and Fernandez is that as the sample size grows, there are two main explanations for what's going on here, neither of which is great.

The first explanation is that the 2024 KTM, which has also been battling unwelcome rear chatter issues not unlike the Ducati (but perhaps worse), is a less competitive offering for one reason or another, but has been elevated by a super talent in Acosta, who is keeping things respectable For the Austrian company.

The second explanation is that KTM is generally where it was last year, but everyone not named Pedro Acosta has performed extremely poorly.

If this trend continues for even a few races, the Pierer Mobility Group bosses – and the rest of the MotoGP team – will inevitably gravitate towards one of two things. the clarification.

This would obviously not be an acceptable situation for the passengers involved, and certainly not for the people signing their checks.



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