After the poor weather across the nineteenth and final round of 2018 MotoGP in Spain, Red Bull KTM were able to count on sunnier and brighter conditions for their first work towards the 2019 FIM World Championship with a host of new riders, including two that have made the jump across from Tech3 Yamaha machinery to the KTM RC16.
Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director
“Today was the start of a new phase for us in MotoGP and it was impressive and emotional to see four KTMs pulling out of the pitlane these days. We had a great end to 2018 and the work did not stop on Monday to get everything and everyone ready for Tuesday and today. It was another special moment to see the Tech 3 guys warming up those RC16s and making their first steps with us. It was a big effort to put it all together for these two days so thanks to everyone involved. On the track we went about our work. Pol carried over his confidence from Sunday while Johann came into the team and started to learn the bike and the guys around him. The same could be said for Tech 3. We’ll keep pushing now until next week and then come out strong when we can run on the track again next year.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager
“It was quite an interesting test. We brought Johann into the team and we’d been looking forward to that for quite some time. The target of the test with him was to get him familiar with our bike and how it works and reacts. He tried many different things with the settings. He also has a new Crew Chief and some other team members so it was a good start. He crashed today but luckily nothing big and it showed him some limits and understanding. We’ll make some analysis this week and hope to make another step in Jerez. Pol gave some good feedback about the new parts we had for him and we have some exciting potential for a new direction. The job these days was firmly towards 2019 and overall we’re happy.”
Pol Espargaro, still elated after his run to a brilliant third position in the Valencia rain, notched 35 laps on Tuesday (before more untimely showers cut the afternoon short) and 47 on a dry Wednesday to focus mainly on electronics and other key points of the ’19 KTM RC16. The Spaniard showed top ten pace when pushing for a quick lap.
“It has been a positive test: you can always take the positive parts of whatever you do. We tried many, many things, especially electronics. We had a nice test, even if we had a problem going for a really fast lap in the end. The team is happy. We still have much to do but we have Jerez in a few days. Last year we were quite good there with a test after the race. I have good memories. The bike has changed much since then and we still have some changes to make. It is good to have more fast riders on the bike like Johann, the test riders and the young guys at Tech 3. They just need time and experience.”
Across the garage Johann Zarco made his eagerly awaited Red Bull KTM debut and spent both days feeling his way around the motorcycle and altering the characteristics to suit his style. The former double Moto2 World Champion and 2017 Rookie of the Year clocked 86 laps in total. He suffered two small crashes on Wednesday but otherwise profited from his initial taste of the Austrian machinery.
“I wanted to improve my lap-time more today but we could not do it. I can really feel the potential of the bike but we still need to get the speed. It was a shame to have two crashes but I didn’t have any injuries and it helped to understand things about the bike and what I might have to change with my riding style. Step-by step. I’m building up this adventure. We are working on corner entry feeling and to find a direction but we improved and I felt I could play with the bike. I’m already thinking about what changes I need to make. Anyway, it was pretty nice to get on that bike and something so different that I’ve discovered in MotoGP until now. Even all the colours, the suit: it was exciting!”
Another significant sight in Valencia was the all-black KTM Team Tech 3 KTM’s of Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira. The Malaysian is beginning his first full MotoGP pre-season while the Portuguese is one of four rookies in the premier class for 2019. Both were also busy with their acclimatisation.
“Overall, we had a decent test. I didn’t look at the lap time these two days, but tried to feel good on the bike, to get used to it and to understand the electronics. On the first day, we didn’t touch anything on the bike but this afternoon we changed some things on the front and the rear, which was positive. Later today, it was quite cold and we used the medium tyre. I had a small crash in turn 10, but I was in a good shape and had a good rhythm to understand the bike. We try to continue working hard. I hope we have some great weather in Jerez and aim to improve with every session.”
“We did much more laps than yesterday and just continued to work on the bike. Toady we started to touch some areas after we had the same bike throughout the day on Tuesday. Now we were able to make some changes. Because everything is new, it took the team a bit of time to make these changes and also to adapt my comments from what I wish to have from the bike, so it’s a learning curve for everyone in this particular situation. So far, it has been positive.”
MotoGP will now move further south and to Jerez to continue testing on Wednesday 28th and Thursday 29th November and the last track days before the winter period.
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