From an article published to FreshDirt.Com in 2002, A look at Litz Racing's hand in the emergence of KTM as one of the major competitors on the racing scene.
Both Players (McGrath & Team Pro-Circuit) are
Talking Seriously with KTM
KTM, always considered the "other bike" by the Japanese aficionados, is in the news and they are playing hard ball. Imagine that it has always (for the past couple decades) been the "BIG FOUR" in motocross, meaning Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha. It was never the "BIG FIVE" as KTM was never considered that big a player, despite the awesome riding of such riders as Mike Fisher and Cliff Palmer, when they were shaking up the established factory riders' status quo. Riders such as Rony Amaradio and others also gave it a shot and attempted to make a dent on the circuit aboard these bikes.
Until Steve Litz of Moto Planet stepped onto the scene with riders like Jim Neese, Robbie Horton, James Povolny and others, and actually put some KTM125s on the podium, they were never truly considered a threat.
After the groundbreaking team that Steve had put together, people started to realize that these bikes and this company have potential. Where does that lead us? Evolution...
The most powerful satellite team in motocross is and has always been Mitch Payton's Pro-Circuit. They have more titles and trophies on their mantle than all the other satellite teams put together. The most famous man in Supercross/ Motorcross is without a question of a doubt, Jeremy "Showtime" McGrath. Sources say that KTM has made a big push to get Pro-Circuit's Mitch Payton to take on the KTM 125 team in 2003. This same source says that this very well could happen.
No disrespect to Kawasaki, but their bikes have been dog slow for the past decade and if Mitch can make them haul, imagine what he could/can do with a KTM engine that boasts it nearly works like horsepower numbers. Horsepower in the 125 class is king. You can have semi-bad suspension, but if you have an engine - you can have semi-bad handling, but if you have an engine - you are a threat to win. The KTM does not handle badly and its suspension is not too far off from the top Japanese bikes. Mitch and his side-kick Bones have more expertise in designing, repairing, re-designing and making suspension work than just about anyone out there. With that said, we are sure that the PC crew could turn the already awesome KTM 125 into an AWESOME thoroughbred! So can and will this happen? If KTM can reach deep enough into its pockets, anything is possible.
Editor's Note (Here is a neat side note that occurred to me): MXUK, a former hot mag from England, test rode the KTM250 four-stroke and reported that it was an enduro bike engine at best. They reported that it could never compete with a YZ250F in its current state of tune. That that being the case, imagine what would happen with this bike if Mitch Payton got his hands on it. It could possibly turn into a top fuel dragster and be more than capable of running with any other 125/250 on the track (250 four stroke that is). Maybe this is part of what KTM is after - Mitch Payton's R&D ability!
McGrath - Here is OUR version of the BOMBSHELL... Right now, as we reported two weeks ago, KTM has a huge offer on the table for Jeremy McGrath. They are deadly serious about acquiring the multi-time champ's services. KTM is making the push, and sources say that if MC has a team, he is going to offer a ride to Kevin Windham. While it was first believed that KTM was a dark horse or only had an outside shot at being MC's new ride, sources now say that there is a VERY GOOD possibility that "showtime" might be sporting team KTM colors next season. Is there any foundation for this talk? Only time will tell, but FreshDirt.com can 100% assure you of this: McGRATH IS TAKING THIS OFFER SERIOUSLY. That is all we can say at this time - so take that for what it is worth and all that goes with it.