MotoGP: KTM pleased with progress despite positions

1 of 1

The KTM duo of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaró have come away from the second of MotoGP’s three pre-season test pleased with the progress made on the new RC16 machine, despite the timing screens perhaps failing to show just how far they’ve come.

Improving from four seconds off on the opening day to finish just one and a half adrift, project leader Mike Leitner says he’s happy with what they’ve achieved.

“I’m quite happy because at the end of these three days our riders put in good lap times. This is really promising because the start here is very special and unique, so it isn’t easy to come here and put in good lap times. We did a lot of test and setup work, and the team did a great job. They pushed hard and put in long nights. Also a big compliment to all the people back in the factory. They’re working hard on all the material that we’re testing. We have to keep pushing because it will still be a long way for us to get to a very good level. But both riders are working well, and we’re going in the right direction.”

Smith echoed his thoughts, also adding that it had been important to test at Phillip Island because of the different character of the track.

“It helped us to understand our complete package. As far as the electronics go, it’s important to have a good balance here because of the long corners and the hard drive areas. I’m generally pleased with the improvements. On days one and two the lap times were not what I expected, but by the end, I felt a lot more comfortable. I was pleased to do a +1.429 at the end of the session. That was 1.4 off, and about what we would expect. We’ll still work on the electronics, and the drive area because the acceleration phase is so important in MotoGP, and we’re always looking for a bit more.”

And with another test still to come in Qatar, Espargaró says there’s more to come.

“We’ve improved the pace quite a lot, and that’s where you earn the points. Being on the bike is much better and the lap times are quite close to the first guys. We were really close many times, and I’m very happy about that. The team is working hard, and I think we’re putting it all together. The engineers know what to do and how to do it, and they will do something great for Qatar, so I am very happy.”

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer