The long awaited official word came today that Troy Lee Designs had signed a multi-year deal with KTM. Starting in 2015, and beyond, TLD will be Orange. It was an expected move, but one that has more layers. We called on our own David Pingree (who once served as TLD team manager), Jason Thomas (who currently works with the BTOSports.com KTM team), Steve Matthes (who worked at KTM in their initial factory effort) and Jason Weigandt (who owns an orange Jeep).
David Pingree: This collaboration is going to be great for both sides. KTM is going to get a team with a history of winning races and even championships (Supermoto), with arguably the best looking bikes and setup in the pits. Troy, Maki and the TLD design team staff are amazing when it comes to making something stand out. Troy’s team is getting the technical support of the most experienced staff in the sport. You might scoff at that and mumble something about the history of the other manufacturers and maybe even throw in a curse word or two and something about Bob Hannah. Look, KTM have hired the very best manager, mechanics and technicians in the sport in recent years and if you look at their learning curve and success rate you would see they are a brand with a rocket strapped to their rear ends. Their credibility, combined with their technical and monetary support, are going to take TLD to the next level. No more back seat to GEICO Honda as the second support team; TLD is now going to be KTM’s factory 250cc racing effort (starting in 2016). That means the Orange Brigade feeder system finally has a perfect place to send their young stars like Alex Frye, Mitchell Faulk and even their newly signed guys like Sean Cantrell. Troy is moving his race shop from Corona to Murrieta to be closer to KTM headquarters and both sides are excited about what the future holds. Bottom line: It’s a good time to be underneath an orange tent.
Jason Thomas: I think this will be a positive move for the team overall. I assume that KTM's level of support was a step above what Honda was able to provide, hence the switch. Honda already has the GEICO team as their official 250 team, so this switch would make TLD the main KTM 250 satellite effort. Along with that comes factory parts, technology, and financial aid as well. For private teams like this one, those are huge benefits. All in all, a good move for both parties. The only real loser here would have to be Honda, but with GEICO already being the main focus, this was bound to happen as the team gained success.
Steve Matthes: There are many reasons why I wish I had a time machine. Number one would be to tell the Toronto Maple Leafs to NOT trade Tukka Rask to the Boston Bruins for Andrew Raycroft. I think the second thing I would use it for would be to go back in time to the mid 80s and tell long-time KTM privateer John Finkelday or our own Davey Coombs (two years as a KTM support rider) that one day, KTM would win titles and have a lot of the top riders in the sport.
Surely these two would not believe that the Austrian company would one day be so prominent in supercross and motocross. After those two riders told me I was nuts maybe I would get back into the machine to 1991 and tell KTM star Mike Fisher the same thing. After Fisher called the cops on me I would zoom back to the present day and look at the combined 450SX/MX points and see KTM riders first, second and fourth overall on the year.
As a member of KTM’s initial factory effort in 2000 I’m constantly amazed by how far they’ve come. The news today that they’ve picked up the Troy Lee Designs team for what I believe is the 250SX West Region and 250MX this year and then 250SX West and East next year (along with 250MX) is great. TLD was never going to be number one in Honda’s eyes as long as the GEICO team was around and with this, we now have four OEM 250 efforts out there (one raised eyebrow at you, Suzuki). This is a much needed boost for TLD to keep going racing for years to come.
The Troy Lee Designs team does things a little different than a lot of others out there and I hope with “the man” coming in (that’s KTM as “the man” and not Roger DeCoster) they keep that atmosphere around the truck. All the guys there seem to be having some fun at the races and with the riders they have, they also get results. Jessy Nelson looks to be on the upswing, Shane McElrath is improving, they’ll probably have Darryn Durham, who if he stays away from crashing can win races, and this amateur kid Cantrell is supposed to be great.
All this and I can’t wait to see what TLD can come up with in terms of shades of orange for their bikes. What a program KTM is building here with their own team, the BTO guys and now this.
Jason Weigandt: I don't have much to add here except that orange is my favorite color (not because of KTM, but because of the “Dukes of Hazzard's” General Lee car, which looks fantastic and pre-dates orange KTMs by about 20 years). TLD is traditionally one of the most stylish teams in the pits, and I'm very, very excited about what this team will come up with to fit the new color. Otherwise, just listen to the other guys for the real info.