Pol Espargaro takes 6th in Spanish GP, teammate Brad Binder 13th
Temperatures hovered at 55 degrees across the asphalt of the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto for the first of thirteen rounds in 2020 MotoGP and the opening episode of two ‘closed-door’ events at the compact Spanish circuit. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 showed increased competitiveness and excellent speed with the KTM RC16 after 25 intense laps of MotoGP’s return to action.
Pol Espargaro finished 6th and was less than a second from 3rd position. The Spaniard fought inside the leading group from the first moments of the race and strived to overtake Jack Miller and Andrea Dovizioso. A final corner attempt to snatch 4th position meant he allowed Franco Morbidelli just enough space to sneak through. Esparagaro was 6th at the finish line. The difference was just three tenths of a second from 4th.
Espargaro was joined in the opening laps by excellent rookie Brad Binder. The South African ensured that the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing bikes formation-flew in the midst of the top ten. A mistake under braking on lap seven saw the Moto3 and Moto2 race winner run off track and lose time down to last place but he then set a fiery pace to work his way back to 13th.
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira banished some tricky moments in practice and qualification to ride steadily and effectively to 8th spot: equaling his highest MotoGP ranking yet, set at the 2019 Grand Prix of Austria. Teammate Iker Lecuona was also on the fringes of the top ten but suffered with heat exhaustion and had to withdraw from the last quarter of the race distance.
“It’s been a very good day and I’m happy with the result but you always want more! We were just one second from the podium: very close. I needed to be closer to the guys in front to pass but the front tire temperature was growing like crazy-fast in a few corners. We normal struggle at Jerez so to take this result and in these temperatures is very good. We are happy and now we are convinced we can get push for better in the short-term. All four KTMs on the grid are powerful and strong, especially on the race pace. We are in the game now.”
“In general, it is not too bad. I’m super-happy with the way the bike is. I need to say sorry to my team because today we could have done a good job and taken a good result but at the end of the day we live and we learn. I made a mistake and I won’t do it again. I knew I could be there in that group with the guys, I didn’t know I would be able to sit there quite comfortably. That was a bit of a shock for sure. I’m really happy that my training in the off-season worked because this is a whole new ball game. I must be happy. The whole package is working so well so I must say thanks to KTM for all their work and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the next races. Let’s keep our heads up and keep this work ethic going.”