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2011 MX: Red Bull KTM Preview

MX World Championship

In 2010 the Red Bull Factory Racing team gave KTM their best ever MX World Championship season with titles in MX1, MX2 and WMX.

That looks like a hard act to follow but all indications are that this team of top talented riders is "Ready to Race" and read to deliver a stunning line-up of results in 2011.

Any KTM factory rider is quick to point out that riding for this racing stable means being much more than a team member; it is a true family affair. That is why an essential part of the pre-season preparation was the joint training session at Benicasim in Spain at the MX training facility owned and run by team boss Stefan Everts and his father Harry, both multiple MX champions.

This was an occasion for the entire KTM offroad factory contingent to get together when KTM's Enduro riders joined Tony Cairoli, Max Nagl, Jeffrey Herlings, Jeremy van Horebeek, Stefan Everts, Pit Beirer, head of the KTM Racing Department and selected media representatives.

Ken Roczen, the final member of the factory squad has been competing in the AMA SX West Lites series with the US Red Bull KTM Factory Team and rejoins the team in time for the first GP in Bulgaria.

As well as working out on- and off the track, the team took care of media presentations and photo and video shooting activities. But a major part of this now traditional pre-season get-together was team building and solidarity, elements that lay the groundwork for good cooperation and dedication during the season.

There was also time for some pursuit of personal interests – Tony and Jeremy went fishing and Jeremy took a swim in the ice cold sea water, illustrating perhaps the same courage as he shows on the track!

In MX1, reigning champion Tony Cairoli of Italy will be out to capture yet another award to boost his trophy collection and if he succeeds in securing another title, it will be his fifth at world championship level.

Tony is very much at home on the 2011 edition KTM 350 SX-F, the revolutionary and agile MX machine developed and launched in 2010 on which he stole the world title against the bigger 450 ccm bikes in its debut year.

Tony has been training in the USA, Spain and Italy in the winter and got down some impressive pre-GP track practice at the Italian MX championships.

Tony is again joined in MX1 by Max Nagl of Germany, a rider who is well known for his attacking style and brilliant starts. This year Max swaps his 450 SX-F for the 350 SX-F . A seasoned member of the Orange factory team Max picked up his first GP win in Italy in 2008, was MX1 vice world champion in 2009 and in 2010 finished a very creditable fourth after being forced to miss two races in France in the middle of the season.

Meanwhile in MX2 all indications are that there will be some amazing track action from the two most junior members of the factory lineup, Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings. Since joining the KTM family in January 2011, Ken has captured a lot of attention by delivering some thrilling performances on the AMA SX Lites track.

He has also had two rides in the SX Open class on the 350 SX-F proving he can more than hold his own in both classes. Ken turns 17 in April and that means 16-year-old Jeffrey Herlings is the youngest of the lineup.

The Dutch teenager is fit and ready to race after shoulder surgery that corrected the injury from the Czech GP that sidelined him for the final races in the 2010 season. But as a mere 15-year-old, he also turned many heads last year with his performance on the track in the first half of last season.

Now a year older and physically more developed, he is an absolute podium contender. Ken and Jeffrey are joined in the team by Belgian ride r Jeremy van Horebeek, also new to the full factory team in 2011. Jeremy is no stranger to KTM after having raced with the Jackie Martens KTM-supported team in 2009.

In the women's competition, WMX world champion Steffi Laier continues as a full factory rider for Red Bull Teka KTM and in pre-season races looks the favorite to retain her honors. Steffi had two stunning wins in the opening races of the Dutch WMX Championship in Gemert, taking the second moto by well in excess of a minute.

As Steffi wants to up her game, she has opted for another pre-season ride in Genk, Belgium this time together with the MX2 riders. She has been testing on a range of tracks and surfaces in the pre-season period and reports that she feels 100% in tune with her KTM factory bike. This year the women's GP season opens in Bulgaria with the men's but then follows the MX3 competition schedule.

All the Red Bull Teka KTM team are primed, fit and ready for the 2011 season but as Pit Beirer says, striving for perfection means there's always plenty of work to do. "We had a sensational season last year but that has set the bar very high. No doubt we have a lot of work to do to maintain that high standard. We're fortunate that we have plenty of talent in the team and we are working with excellent bikes. Now all we have to do is to go out and win races," he said.

MX GP Calendar 2011

10 Apr 2011 GP Bulgaria Sevlievo

25 Apr 2011 GP Netherlands Valkenswaard

15 May 2011 GP USA Glen Helen

22 May 2011 GP Brazil Indaiatuba

05 Jun 2011 GP France Saint Jean d'Angely

12 Jun 2011 GP Portugal Agueda

19 Jun 2011 GP Spain TBA

03 Jul 2011 GP Sweden Uddevalla

10 Jul 2011 GP Germany Teutschenthal

17 Jul 2011 GP Latvia Kegums

31 Jul 2011 GP Limburg (BEL) Lommel

07 Aug 2011 GP Czech Republic Loket

21 Aug 2011 GP Britain Matterley Basin, Winchester

04 Sep 2011 TBA

11 Sep 2011 GP Italy Fermo

18 Sep, 2011 Motocross of Nations France Saint Jean d'Angely

Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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