Rather than just send out a press release, KTM North America introduced its 2020 race teams in front of the media at its race testing facility, dubbed “RD Field” (in honor of the company’s Motosports Director Roger DeCoster), near its headquarters in Murrieta, California, Friday, October 11.
Cooper Webb Ready To Defend Supercross Number-One Plate
Headlining the event was the two-man Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team made up of returning riders Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin, the only real difference being Webb wearing the number-one plate in supercross next year. Red Bull KTM Team Manager Ian Harrison will again lead the team into battle in both supercross and motocross.
Also on hand was the KTM factory-supported Rocky Mountain ATV/MC—WPS—KTM Team. The two-rider 450cc squad sees Blake Baggett returning, as he is in a current contract with the team through 2021.
Blake Baggett Healed Up And Ready To Go
The Rocky Mountain KTM Team, however, had a tough decision to make as to who would be Baggett’s teammate in 2020—previous member Benny Bloss or Justin Bogle. Bloss started the 2019 season with the Rocky Mountain team but suffered an injury pre-supercross that kept him off the bike for much of the 2019 season and saw Bogle step in as a fill-in rider for Bloss, who returned at the High Point National. For 2020, the team made the tough decision to let Bloss go and keep Bogle, who is expected, team manager Forrest Butler says, to produce high results in 2020.
Bogle Lands Full-Time Gig At Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM Team
But the team with the most changes is KTM’s factory-supported 250cc team: Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM. There are big changes here.
Long-time TLD rider Shane McElrath already announced his departure from the team, setting the stage for what was a major overhaul for the TLD team. The 2020 four-rider squad will be made up of Brandon Hartranft, Pierce Brown, Derek Drake, and Frenchman Brian Moreau, who comes from the grand prix circuit.
At 21 years of age, Hartranft is the “old man” of the squad. Solid results in 2019 caught the attention of TLD Team Manager Tyler Keefe.
“Actually, I’ve been interested in Brandon since his rookie year, about a year and a half, two years ago,” Keefe told Cycle News. “He does a lot of good things on the bike. He’s been putting a lot of work in, and he just kind of has always been catching our eye. Cooper Webb is a big fan of his, as well, so he was kind of pushing for him, too. It just worked out.
Hartranft Has High Hopes On New Equipment
“So far it’s been nice having him [Hartranft already compete in last weekend’s Red Bull Straight Rhythm on the team],” said Keefe. “He’s been pretty consistent, really. The nationals this year and stuff, his name was always up there. He qualifies really well. I think with the right program he can turn some heads.”
Both Drake and Brown have already spent some of their recent amateur careers with the TLD crew. The 20-year-old Drake is a long-time member of KTM’s Orange Brigade program, and Brown (17) has been aboard KTMs since 2014 and is also an Orange Brigade graduate.
“Pierce has been on our amateur program,” Keefe said. “Originally, he was signed to do outdoors in 2020, and then he came up and did the Florida National. Roger and Ian were really happy with what they saw. They said, ‘hey, let’s get this kid going.’ They wanted to move him up to supercross.”
The acquisition of Moreau, however, is a bit of a surprise. Moreau is the 2017 European 125cc-class Champion.
Meet Brian Moreau
“Basically, in about May, I got a phone call from [KTM VP of Off-Road] Robert Jonas, one of the main guys at KTM in Europe,” said Keefe on signing Moreau. “And he basically said here is this kid, he’s been real high on him for about a year now, and that he was trying to get a deal for the ’19 season but wasn’t able to get it done with Brian’s current contracts. Then his contracts were up, and he wanted Brian on his team, but they didn’t have any room on his side. So, he called me and asked if I’d be interested. I said, ‘absolutely,’ so we got in touch with [Moreau], and it worked out. He’s 17 years old and has a lot of talent. He has a two-year contract with us [for both supercross and motocross].
“Basically he flew in Monday with his gearbag, knee braces, and clothes,” Keefe said. “Fortunately he’s been able to stay with [fellow Frenchman Marvin Musquin and his wife], and they’ve been a big help. We’re just trying to get him adjusted; he’s ridden two days now [here in the U.S.].
“The French have supercross background; he’s done Bercy and the Monster Energy Cup last year. He definitely has the skillset.”
Moreau, who finished fifth in the Amateur All-Star class at the ’18 Monster Energy Cup, will wear the number-104 plate in 2020.
“So it’s a lot of new faces,” Keefe added. “It’s a fresh start, so it should be good.” CN
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