Pol Espargaro charges to seventh on Spanish GP grid, Brad Binder to start from 12th
A Q2 appearance and a third row slot for the first round of 2020 MotoGP represented a bright start to the season for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro. The Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto fried in midsummer temperatures but the 29-year old was able to take his KTM RC16 to within 0.7 of a second of Pole Position for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España.
Jerez boiled in July sunshine and with track temperatures that reached the mid-50s for the first Qualification run of the delayed 2020 campaign. Espargaro missed the direct cut to the Q2 session by fractions of a second but edged his way through Q1 with a confident time attack with his KTM RC16. His last push of the day delivered the lap that would guarantee KTM’s slot at the peak of the third row. Espargaro was just four-hundredths of a second from 6th place.
Teammate Brad Binder made considerable improvements to his feeling in the braking zones around Jerez’s compact 4.4km layout. The South African rookie almost squeezed through Q1 but was content with 13th; and is elevated to 12th on the grid and the last slot of the fourth row due to Alex Rins’ non-participation on Sunday.
“It was better than what we expected We missed everything today by milliseconds, but I think we must be happy. We were a bit worried because these high temperatures are very tricky for us. I think the bike is turning a bit better and for whatever reason this tire is adapting a bit more to our bike. The race pace especially is quite consistent and doesn’t drop as much as last year with these hot temperatures. For tomorrow’s race let’s see with the asphalt after the Moto2 race and the temperatures together with the different rubber. I will need to risk a little in the beginning, but we are in a good position to be in the second group.”
“To be completely honest it has been better than what I could have asked for. If I think where I started at the end of last year – or even the beginning of this one – then I think to be 12th in Jerez with the lap-time we did we have to be happy. We made a huge step in reducing mistakes. Also, with the bike’s performance in the braking zones, especially in the heat and with general comfort just by making the front a bit harder. I need to be realistic, for my first grand prix we are learning a lot and still have a hell of a lot to learn. I realize that every time I go out. I think there is margin there and opportunities for us to make good steps forward. Tomorrow will be part of that learning curve for sure.”