Bastianini : KTM “Closely Challenging” Ducati this year in MotoGP

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Ducati’s Enea Bastianini thinks KTM is now “very close” to the Italian brand in MotoGP, especially after Brad Binder’s dual podium finish at the Qatar Grand Prix.

The upgraded Ducati GP24 seemed to be significantly ahead of the competition during pre-season testing last month, with reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia setting record-breaking speeds at both the Sepang and Losail circuits.

Ducati continued its dominance into the opening grand prix of the season, where Bagnaia charged to victory from fifth on the grid. However, Brad Binder’s second-place finish provided a glimmer of hope that the Italian brand might face stiffer competition in the 2024 MotoGP season.

Aprilia also showcased impressive pace at various points during the Qatar weekend, especially with Aleix Espargaro demonstrating the speed of the RS-GP with a third-place finish in the sprint race. Unfortunately, tire issues hampered his chances of repeating that performance in the main event.

Bastianini, who observed the performances of various bikes from his fifth-place position at Losail, believes KTM has narrowed the gap to the front with the revamped RC16 for 2024.

“Ducati is now the benchmark for all factories, and KTM is really close to Ducati now, as we’ve seen Brad competitive in both the grand prix and the sprint,” said the Italian.


“I think the KTM factory, along with Aprilia, could be our rivals for this season.”

In Q2, Binder was the sole non-Ducati rider to clock below the 1m51s mark, securing fourth place just over a tenth behind polesitter Jorge Martin.

Continuing his impressive form, he then claimed a solid second place in the 11-lap sprint, crossing the line half a second adrift of Martin’s GP24.

Binder managed to outpace the Pramac rider over the full-distance race last Sunday but was unable to mount a significant challenge to Bagnaia, who crossed the finish line with a 1.3s lead over the South African.

When asked about KTM potentially competing at Ducati’s level, the 28-year-old was cautious in his assessment, suggesting that both Martin and Bagnaia had more pace in reserve during the Qatar weekend.

“I think the level is similar to last year. We are extremely close,” he remarked. “But I’m not entirely sure we’re there yet.

“I feel like I’m pushing close to 100% all the time, whereas I believe they have a bit more in reserve, maybe a few percentage points.

“I’m waiting for that last little bit of assistance, and then we’ll give it another go.”

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