Three teenagers of eye-catching promise will form the nucleus of the squad: Rene Hofer (a 15 year old from Austria and already a World and European Champion in the 85cc division and 3rd place finisher in the final round of the Italian Championship in Ottobiano this year with the KTM 125 SX), Marcel Stauffer (Austrian, 16 this week and third place – as well as moto winner – in the MX2 Austrian Championship and coming back from most of 2016 with injury) and Mike Gwerder (14 year old Swiss and in just his second year of international racing, owner of four 85cc Swiss Champion victories and two podiums in the high profile ADAC MX Masters German national series).
The experience and know-how of Hannes Kinigadner and Didi Lacher will be crucial elements to preserve KTM’s renowned pedigree for spotting and developing some of the best Motocross prospects. The cauldron of competition that is EMX125, with it’s fully subscribed entry lists and reams of hopefuls looking to make the transition through two-stroke technology, means it is both a true and hard test of a rider’s potential. Lacher has been marshalling the team through almost thirty days of training time as a group and some small injury niggles for both Hofer and Gwerder (the latter missing out in Holland and will make his first appearance in Latvia on May 7th) but the line-up should be primed for the opening test of the season on the Valkenswaard sand.
“I believe we have the right set-up for the guys to show what they can do in EMX125,” Lacher commented. “The boys are attending sport schools; which means they have enough time for training and racing but they also follow an academic routine. All of their parents have jobs or businesses to look after so we provide them with all the support that we can. An example is that each ‘junior’ has their own physical trainer and a programme to follow; I co-ordinate the schedule with the trainer and we also look at the riding plan and the races we will do.”
“Rene and Mike have had some small problems but Rene will be fit for Holland and I’m very pleased with the work that we have done,” Lacher continued. “They started their physical regime in November and we had our first training block in Italy in December. We then accumulated another two-three weeks working in the sand and also a camp in Spain focussing on hard-pack tracks.”
Sixteen year old Jorge Prado is an ideal example of an aspiring athlete that can use the platform and resources of the KTM junior project and leap into EMX250 and then make the transition to make his mark on MXGP. Hofer, Stauffer and Gwerder will be striving for a similar trajectory.
“It’s an exciting time for us with this new project and our target is to bring through the next ‘star’ to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team and hopefully also one that is German-speaking!” remarked Hannes Kinigadner. “Didi and the riders have been through the right process to get everything set for the racing season ahead. The juniors will be using the capable KTM 125 SX motorcycles. With our best support and will for their progress…the rest is up to them!”