Guidotti to replace Leitner as KTM technical director

KTM MotoGP technical director Mike Leitner will depart the team, with Pramac’s Francesco Guidotti set to take his place in the role. 

Guidotti to replace Leitner as KTM technical directorListen to this article

The KTM team, which will enter its sixth season in MotoGP next year, is currently seeking to take a new step forward in its project which, after a successful 2020 in which the Austrian manufacturer secured its first victories in the top tier, has stagnated this past season. 

In order to get its MotoGP programme back on track, KTM has elected to bring Guidotti into the fold.

Guidotti, who has a wealth of experience in MotoGP, will depart from Pramac after nine seasons with the team.

As Pramac’s team manager, the Italian has worked closely with Ducati, the current bike of reference on the grid, and will be tasked with pushing KTM further up the order.

Guidotti had also rumoured to take over the role of team manager at Suzuki in 2022, which is currently seeking a new management structure following a disappointing defence of its riders’ title – in which 2020 champion Joan Mir was unable to secure a victory.

The out-going Leitner came to KTM after an extensive career at Honda-HRC, where he excelled in his role as Dani Pedrosa’s track engineer. 

The Austrian technician was recruited by KTM to lead the move into MotoGP, taking the RC213V model as the basis for its RC16 prototype.

However, the tables have turned on the MotoGP grid and the bike that now sets the competitive benchmark is the Ducati, hence KTM’s interest in bringing in Guidotti – who knows the bike and the working methods of the Borgo Panigale brand.

KTM broke its victory duck in the third round of the 2020 season, where then-rookie Brad Binder prevailed at Brno to secure victory.

The sister Tech3 operation snared two victories that year courtesy of Miguel Oliveira, who sensationally won at the Styrian Grand Prix with a last-corner pass on Jack Miller and former KTM rider Pol Espargaro.

Binder and Oliveira won one race apiece in 2021, with the Portuguese rider claiming the spoils at the Catalan Grand Prix following his move to the KTM factory squad, while Binder’s gamble on slick tyres on an ever-dampening Red Bull Ring circuit netted him victory in the Austrian Grand Prix.

However, the Tech3 operation struggled, with Danilo Petrucci’s fifth place at Le Mans marking the French team’s best result of 2021.

KTM will continue to supply the same equipment to both squads, with Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira remaining at the factory team, and Tech3’s line-up formed by two rookie riders, this year’s Moto2 champion Remy Gardner and runner-up Raul Fernandez.

On Thursday morning KTM confirmed Motorsport.com’s report by officially announcing Leitner’s departure from his current role – though confirmed he would remain in a consultancy position with the Austrian manufacturer.

“Mike has been a key figure in our mission to fight against the best in the world of road racing,” KTM boss Pit Beirer said.

“Together we created a MotoGP structure with the right staff and the right riders which achieved outstanding results at the pinnacle of the sport.

“We started building our RC16 and the whole plan from a blank piece of paper and under his guidance we put a great team together; one that took on the challenge of MotoGP.

“Now, after seven years together, we decided to reorganise our MotoGP leadership for the future, and I cannot express how much we want to thank him for all the work he put into this project.

“Mike pushed very hard to get us from the back of the grid to the front row and his dedication has played a major part in our success story.”

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