Red Bull KTM rider Pol Espargaró’s British Grand Prix came to an ignominious end on Sunday when he was lucky to escape a high speed crash after he had already taken the chequered flag!
The Spaniard only just missed out on a third consecutive top ten for the Austrian manufacturer in eleventh, but was caught out when he rolled off the throttle after crossing the line and the RC16 cut out, locking his rear wheel and throwing him from the bike in a straight line.
“We’re discovering things with the bike – and some problems. The rear wheel locked up straight away, but in a way I’m happy because we had crossed the line with no injuries and almost finished in the top ten.”
But despite being glad to have escaped unscathed from the crash and finish the race, Espargaró admitted that he wasn’t delighted with his finishing place after showing much stronger pace throughout the weekend at Silverstone.
"Maybe we started with the bar set a little bit too high following a great Brno, Spielberg and then a great first run in qualifying at Silverstone but we didn't expect these conditions to be so hot and that maybe hurt us a little. At the start of the race I could follow the top guys and do some good laps but step by step the rear tyre dropped a little bit as the hard compound didn't help us so much.
“But, no excuses. At the start we could fight when full grip was there and we've learnt more as a team to eventually be only 30 seconds off the winner whereas in June at Barcelona we were much more. We are improving, but we remember these improvements don't come easy and that is why the team and the guys at KTM Motorsport in Austria are on it."
However, it was another disappointing day for British racer Bradley Smith at his home race, after coming home dead last in 17th – a result that won’t do his case any good as he potentially fights to keep his ride with the Austrian squad for 2018.
“I had a great start and was very aggressive in the opening laps to get myself up the order. Then as the race progressed, maybe the tyre choice wasn't the best but with this temperature being a little higher than before maybe we looked at what the others were doing too much. Should we have taken a risk with another tyre? That can then be the recipe for 'hero or zero' so one has to be careful.
“We've learnt a lot this weekend and felt that we have found some good pace to hold in there until the halfway point but I lost the grip and confidence that I needed to make the front work. Obviously it's heartbreaking to finish a British GP like this but the intent was there from me and all of the boys in the garage but now we focus on Misano where we had a day's testing last week."
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