6 months ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: KTM Images

With Daniel Milner bidding farewell to KTM last year to take up an opportunity to race the EnduroGP Eorld Championship with Fantic in Europe, it fuelled a heap of rumour about who would fill his vacated seat; arguably the plum seat in Australia’s off-road paddock. Would KTM be able to entice Josh Strang or Lyndon Snodgrass or Mason Semmens back from America? Could young guns, Korey McMahon or Kyron Bacon, step up and fill the role? Had Beau Ralston done enough in recent years to warrant an offer? Would Josh Green or Michael Driscoll be convinced to jump ship from Yamaha? Could KTM manage to lure Matt Phillips or Scott Keegan or Luke Styke out of retirement? Or was there a suspicious story behind the late-2021 social media announcement from off-road racing power couple, Stefan Granquist and Emelie Karlsson, that they’d parted company with Yamaha after many years but didn’t mention where they were moving to?

Yep, in the absence of any official announcement, there’s been all sorts of speculation – most of it based on little more than a hunch. All except the Granquist and Karlsson theory, that is, with reports in recent weeks of them both being spotted aboard KTMs fuelling expectations that an official KTM announcement was imminent.

Well, this week, KTM finally put all that speculation to rest when they confirmed their new-look enduro racing team line-up. Here’s the full press release about their off-road racing team line-up for 2022…

An all-new KTM enduro line-up has been uncovered ahead of the upcoming 2022 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) season, with new riders Stefan Granquist and Emelie Karlsson ready and eager for the stopwatches to start.

Granquist and Karlsson have been regulars in the Australian off-road scene ever since 2011 and consistently feature towards the top of the timesheets. The pair will also contest the Australian 4-Day Enduro (A4DE) and Hattah Desert Race this year.

The past two years have seen Granquist solidify himself as a competitive racer in the E2 category. In 2020, the experienced 35-year-old finished sixth in class despite entering the shortened AORC season with a broken hand. Last year, he went 5-6 at Golden Beach’s opener, before the series cancellation.

For 2022, the Port Stephens local will ride the powerful KTM 500EXC-F within the E3 class in the AORC and A4DE, as well as the Hattah Desert Race. Granquist is gunning for glory in E3 and a top-five Outright at both the AORC and A4DE, in addition to a podium target at Hattah.

Over the past two years, Karlsson has proven to be a tenacious racer in the Women’s All Powers class. She underwent surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome just before the opening round of the 2020 AORC series and, despite having no seat time in the lead-up, finished second in the three-round championship.

In last year’s AORC rounds at Golden Beach, the former Australian Women’s champion finished a gritty third in class, despite injuring her shoulder in a crash. Karlsson will be equipped with a KTM 350EXC-F for 2022 and will settle for nothing less than the overall victory in her class.

The season will commence with the opening rounds of the 2022 Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) to be held at Cherrabah, Queensland, between 19-20 March.

Stefan Granquist: “It’s definitely an honour to ride for KTM and it’s something I’ve always been striving for. I’m motivated to put in the work and get some good results. I tend to have a smoother riding style and being able to use the torque of the 500EXC-F is something that really suits me. I’m feeling really good on the bike and I’m excited for the season ahead. Nothing beats being at the races and I can’t wait to get back out there and see how all the work over the past year has paid off.”

Emelie Karlsson: “It’s exciting and a breath of fresh air to have signed with KTM. It’s been a good change and it’s super-exciting to race a different bike and capacity, to have access to the KTM factory resources, such as suspension testing. The 350EXC-F has significantly more power than 250Fs I’ve ridden in the past and I’m finding I can use the torque of the motor more without having to rev the engine as much. That style of riding really suits me, as I always focus on being a smooth rider rather than an aggressive one.”

Kyle Blunden (KTM Group Australia Motorsport Manager): “We’re excited to welcome both Stefan and Emelie to the KTM brand and are very much looking forward to working with them in 2022. Both racers have shown a burning desire to be successful in their respective classes and have a keen eye for detail when it comes to their presence at the track. As a group, we have chosen to approach this season a little differently, however, the goal is still the same. Both riders are partnered with Choice Suspension, who had them feeling comfortable on the bikes right away, and to say we have high hopes for our racers is an understatement. We look forward to supporting both Stefan and Emelie as they pursue their goals for the season.”

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