KTM sign Lüthi and De Puniet to test new MotoGP machine
In an effort to maximize their development ahead of their MotoGP debut in 2017, KTM have signed Moto2 star Thomas Lüthi and former Suzuki test rider Randy de Puniet for 2016.
The pair will join current test duo Mike Kallio and Alex Hoffman as the testing duties on the new RC16 MotoGP bike. Kallio and Hoffman have already given the RC16 numerous tests in Austria at the Red Bull Ring.
Lüthi and de Puniet will now join the duo in giving more opinions on the new bike, with a chance of a wildcard for the final round of the season, with KTM’s Head of Motorsport Pit Beirer announcing this week that they’re hoping to race the bike competitively for the first time at the end of 2016.
Beirer and KTM have decided that they want to test the bike in private and come to the paddock being competitive in a bid to replicate the success that Suzuki have enjoyed, rather than testing during races, with the struggles that Aprilia have suffered surely factoring into their thoughts.
Lüthi will get his first taste of a MotoGP machine after being in the intermediate class since 2007. The 2005 125cc World Champion will hope that an impressive showing will aid his bid for a full time MotoGP ride in 2017.
De Puniet joins KTM after his impressive stint as test rider for the Suzuki team as they were planning their come-back in 2014. Before that the Frenchman had been in MotoGP for eight years riding Kawasaki, Honda and Ducati’s before spending last season in the World Superbike paddock with Suzuki.
Whilst the bike won’t be seen on track competitively until November, KTM will be giving the bike it’s public debut during this seasons Austrian MotoGP.
There had been speculation that KTM were going to try and lure current Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa to join them in 2017, however earlier this month, HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto hinted that Pedrosa would be given a contract extension once his current deal expires at the end of this season.
Photos via KTM Racing