KTM MotoGP happy with progress at Phillip Island

Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing on Friday wrapped up three days of official IRTA tests at Australia’s Phillip Island circuit, which allowed the team to further advance in their development program ahead of their debut in the premiere class of the MotoGP World Championship.

Pol Espargaro - Image by AJRN
Pol Espargaro – Image by AJRN

The team came away satisfied that they had made solid progress after three long days and nights of intensive work, both on and off the track in preparation for the first season in MotoGP. It was also the factory team’s first visit to Phillip Island and a chance to test in very different track conditions to what they have experienced on other circuits. Senior team officials and the two factory riders, Pol Espargaro (ESP) and Bradley Smith (GBR) all confirmed they had been able to further advance the development program with the KTM RC16 MotoGP bike.

Bradley Smith started to get somewhere today, dropping almost two-seconds off his previous best to finish the test ahead of Redding, Abraham and Lowes.
Bradley Smith started to get somewhere on the final day, dropping almost two-seconds off his previous best to finish the test ahead of Redding, Abraham and Lowes.

Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP)

“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.”

Pol Espargaro - Image by AJRN
Pol Espargaro – Image by AJRN

Wednesday saw temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius, with the track registering about 40 degrees, and a strong wind. Factory rider Pol Espargaro tested a new frame and put in 59 laps, with the quickest in lap 54 when he was 1.703 off the front pace. Espargaro had a low-sider in the afternoon, but both rider and bike were okay. Teammate Bradley Smith tested a new front fairing on the first day and gave the team positive feedback.

Pol Espargaro - Image by AJRN
Pol Espargaro – Image by AJRN

Pol Espargaro

“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.” When asked what the team hoped to gain before the next tests in Qatar, Espargaro said he felt there were still gains to be made in the engine and the electronics. “The engineers know what to do and how to do it, and they will do something great for Qatar, so I am very happy.”

Pol Espargaro - Image by AJRN
Pol Espargaro – Image by AJRN

Temperatures dropped by 10 degrees on the second day, and there was also a little bit less wind. Both riders resumed testing a variety of options and provided good feedback to the team. Espargaro’s had a small crash around midday and was not hurt, but there were some repairs necessary on the bike.

Bradley Smith - Image by AJRN
Bradley Smith – Image by AJRN

Bradley Smith

“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.”

Bradley Smith – Image by AJRN

The third day saw similar conditions to day two and both Espargaro and Smith improved their lap times right at the end of the day. Espargaro rode his best lap in his 62nd, his last of the day, to finish overall 17th in the combined timesheets to be +1.308sec off the pace. Smith was 19th overall on the combined sheets, and like Espargaro, clocked his best time in his final, his 73rd for the day.

Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP)

“Once more we saw how we could develop when we come to a new track. We tried a lot of new things, mainly on the chassis and the electronics, and with a lot of success. I think that when it finally comes to putting down lap times, the riders are very happy. Both pushed hard, and we can be pleased with these results. We can also see the progress in the pace, and when it comes down to it, we can put in a good lap time. We have quite a good picture of what is still missing, and we’ll try to work on this as much as possible between now and the next test.”

After the official team presentation next Monday in the new KTM Motorsport Building in Munderfing, Austria, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team heads towards Losail International Circuit in Qatar for the final MotoGP IRTA Test starting on March 10, 2017, before the season really kicks off at the same venue two weeks later.

 

Day Three Times

  1. Maverick Vinales 1m28.549
  2. Marc Marquez 1m28.843
  3. Dani Pedrosa 1m29.033
  4. Jonas Folger 1m29.042
  5. Cal Crutchlow 1m29.101
  6. Alex Rins 1m29.103
  7. Andrea Dovizioso 1m29.248
  8. Jorge Lorenzo 1m29.342
  9. Jack Miller 1m29.358
  10. Aleix Espargaro 1m29.361
  11. Valentino Rossi 1m29.470
  12. Andrea Iannone 1m29.547
  13. Danilo Petrucci 1m29.615
  14. Johann Zarco 1m29.670
  15. Hector Barbera 1m29.791
  16. Pol Espargaro 1m29.857
  17. Loris Baz 1m29.977
  18. Bradley Smith 1m29.978
  19. Alvaro Bautista 1m29.984
  20. Scott Redding 1m30.005
  21. Sam Lowes 1m30.200
  22. Karel Abraham 1m30.452

 

Day Two Times

  1. Maverick Vinales 1m28.847
  2. Marc Marquez 1m29.309
  3. Cal Crutchlow 1m29.325
  4. Alvaro Bautista 1m29.411
  5. Andrea Dovizioso 1m29.483
  6. Aleix Espargaro 1m29.501
  7. Jonas Folger 1m29.664
  8. Valentino Rossi 1m29.674
  9. Alex Rins 1m29.802
  10. Jack Miller 1m29.838
  11. Johann Zarco 1m29.880
  12. Andrea Iannone 1m29.947
  13. Karel Abraham 1m30.142
  14. Danilo Petrucci 1m30.150
  15. Jorge Lorenzo 1m30.197
  16. Dani Pedrosa 1m30.245
  17. Hector Barbera 1m30.352
  18. Scott Redding 1m30.435
  19. Pol Espargaro 1m30.645
  20. Loris Baz 1m30.852
  21. Sam Lowes 1m30.895
  22. Bradley Smith 1m31.704

 

Day One Times

  1. Marc Marquez 1m29.497 Honda
  2. Valentino Rossi 1m29.683 Yamaha
  3. Andrea Iannone 1m29.926 Suzuki
  4. Maverick Vinales 1m29.989 Yamaha
  5. Cal Crutchlow 1m30.065 Honda
  6. Danilo Petrucci 1m30.262 Ducati
  7. Dani Pedrosa 1m30.281 Honda
  8. Andrea Dovizioso 1m30.410 Ducati
  9. Jack Miller 1m30.426 Honda
  10. Jonas Folger 1m30.578 Yamaha
  11. Jorge Lorenzo 1m30.631 Ducati
  12. Alvaro Bautista 1m30.770 Ducati
  13. Hector Barbera 1m30.771 Ducati
  14. Aleix Espargaro 1m30.802 Aprilia
  15. Johann Zarco 1m30.867 Yamaha
  16. Karel Abraham 1m31.179 Ducati
  17. Pol Espargaro 1m31.200 KTM
  18. Loris Baz 1m31.249 Ducati
  19. Alex Rins 1m31.432 Suzuki
  20. Scott Redding 1m31.755 Ducati
  21. Sam Lowes 1m32.307 Aprilia
  22. Bradley Smith 1m32.690 KTM