KTM Sportmotorcycle USA, Inc. will field a two-rider National Championship dirt track race team for the 2003 and 2004 seasons. The KTM National Dirt Track Race Team will consist of 2000 AMA Grand National Champion Joe Kopp and Kenny Coolbeth, the 2002 AMA Grand National Championship third-place finisher.
Both Kopp and Coolbeth will campaign KTM Racing four-strokes on either the 450 SX or a slightly downsized 525 SX for both the AMA 505cc GNC series events and the 450 SX for the Formula USA-sanctioned K&N Filters Pro Series.
Both Kopp and Coolbeth will also be involved in the testing and development of the new KTM LC8 V-Twin cylinder engine during the 2003-2004 racing seasons. According to KTM Dirt National Dirt Track Race Team Manager Mike Rosso, the team will start out with "an American-built brand of V-twin that has traditionally have done very well in dirt track racing" before making the switch to LC8-based KTM twins.
"Our original plan was to have the LC8 ready by Springfield, but that timetable was a bit optimistic," Rosso told Cycle News. "As soon as the bikes are completed, Joe and Kenny will begin testing them, and we will let them decide when they are ready to debut them."
Kopp's motorcycles will be maintained and tuned by former Chris Carr assistant mechanic Travis Smith and Coolbeth's by former AMA road racer Andy Fenwick. Both race mechanics will be based out of Darrell Jones' Jones Power Sports KTM in Columbia, Missouri. Jones, a long time dirt track and road race sponsor to both Kopp and Coolbeth, will act as crew manager.
KTM's engine development in the U.S. will be handled in-house by KTM USA's Sean McLaughlin and Rosso.
According to the team's official release, dirt track racing is the cornerstone of American motorcycle racing and can trace its roots back to 1901. The extremely close competition of firt track and the need for superior power characteristics are great development tools for KTM Racing four-stroke products.
According to the release, Kopp and Coolbeth, with their world caliber riding abilities, development skills and great personalities are the perfect team for KTM and for the showcasing of KTM’s "ready-to-race" four-stroke line of motorcycles.
In addition to KTM Sportmotorcycles USA, Jones Power Sports KTM, WP Suspension and Wiseco Pistons will sponsor the KTM Dirt Track Team.