How do Motorsport companies deal with COVID-19- insight on actions by KTM Director Pit Beirer

Courtesy of Sharon Cox

Motorsport around the world was brought to stand-still amid crisis of COVID-19 not only disrupting event calendars but also putting companies on lock-down from generating financial income.

KTM Hall of Fame taken in 2016 on visit to KTM HQ

KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer holds responsibilities of sustaining a company which as a Manufacturer of Motorcycles with 3 Brands: KTM, Husqvarna and Gas Gas, Pit oversees management of 50 plus athletes whose performance across varying Motorsport disciplines has earned the company total of 307 World Championship Titles.

Directness of action has been key ingredient to the company’s success with Pit Beirer undertaking many challenging decisions on maintaining forward momentum not just on the track gaining results, but also amongst a vast array of departments whose role satisfies KTM’s mission of ‘Ready to Race’.

It was Pit’s keen attention to detail and quick assessment of accumulating effects COVID-19 was registering in China that prompted warning signals to KTM’s personnel. As expressed in KTM press release by Pit:

Pit Beirer KTM HQ taken on visit in 2016

‘“Contrary to my nature, I was worried relatively early. I warned my most important people early on. Everyone looked a bit astonished. In motorsport, I understood relatively early on that it was not about trying to force a race through somewhere, but driving down the effort and costs immediately to give the company air”‘.

Preventative measures put in place by closing KTM Motorsport department in Munderfing followed by KTM Production in Mattighofen mid-March put equal emphasis on calling halt to racing.

As Pit states: “‘When do you decide to pull the ripcord?”‘

“‘At many events, I informed FIM early on that our people would no longer travel, whether motocross in Argentina or the rally in Abu Dhabi. I had our people logged out before the decision was made that the races would not take place”‘.

At heart of KTM’s principle is sustainability but not at the cost of overall health and well being of staff which makes up total of 4,200 jobs world-wide. And so to for riders and racers who have gone from 100% performance on the track for 2020 MXGP World Championship to MotoGP pre-season testing in February- now no race calender confirmed until further notice.

KTM Motorcycle Time-line taken on visit to KTM HQ in 2016

So, how does Pit deal with the pressure, the uncertainty of when will race calenders resume and in what capacity? For certain, KTM Motorsport Director has sheer will power, force of conviction and dermination that priorities are kept firmly in place.

Pit on decision to safe-guard staff and minimise company’s financial loss during lock-down: ‘You can’t just tell people that you are staying at home for four or five weeks and then we’ll have a look. It is our responsibility to properly look after our people”‘.

All of which brings the company’s founding principle full circle- having remained true to the evolution of the Brand from when it all started way back in 1934. Starting off as a pre-WW11 business as fitter and car repair shop by Austrian engineer Johann (Hans) Trunkenpolz in Mattighofen, development came about through first manufacture of prototype motorcycle in 1951.

Hans Trunkenpolz and Ernst Kronreif Mattighofen 1951

By 1953, businessman Ernst Kronreif became a sizable shareholder of the company which was renamed and registered as Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen (KTM). Notwithstanding  the remarkable R@D growth within KTM company with race performances surpassing highest of expectations over decades since, the adherence to the founding work ethics on production of Motorcycles as the fore-front of business remains true for today.

History aside, Pit Beirer has bought certainty of direction to Brands progression- actions that have achieved highest regard on and off track. Standing firm in times of challenge, resolute on forging paths to move forward, not comprimising on health and well being of KTM people, to be ready to race when time comes. Such a mantra has sustained productivity and performance to date- and for the future.

Header photo: pit-board of thanks to Pit Beirer by Antonio Cairolli. Photo taken 2016.

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