KTM launches road to Qatar 2017 at final MotoGP IRTA Test

Posted on Nov 16, 2016 by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

The KTM Factory Racing Team immediately started to prepare to officially join the MotoGP competition in Qatar 2017 right after following the first wildcard entry at the season’s final round last weekend. On Tuesday and Wednesday they took part in the official IRTA test in Valencia with the two factory riders Bradley Smith (GBR) and Pol Espargaro (ESP) riding the KTM RC16.

The test immediately followed the exciting race weekend so there was no chance for a break. On Monday two KTM RC16s on each side were brought up the latest technical standards and adapted for the new factory riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro. Conditions were very good on both test days with almost cloudless skies and useful grip conditions. It was rather cold in the morning for the season, and most riders only started their test programs shortly before midday. Despite both riders having one harmless crash, the team was able to put in a total of 238 laps and gather extremely valuable experience for the further development of the KTM MotoGP bike.

Bradley Smith (Factory Rider):
“I can’t ask for more. It’s been two very hard days and my head wants to explode. The biggest thing is I really enjoy working with people that understand and can implement what I am trying to achieve, and I think that’s the most exciting thing. They understand and they can change things and improve things. These last two days have just been information gathering from an electronics point of view or gearbox and gearing. To be aware which gear gets the maximum power from the engine at the right moment. That’s been the main focus. Its not basic stuff but its far away from working on chassis settings and suspension. We’re really at the beginning of our working process. I believe what we have achieved in these two days is very good. It gives direction for where we want to go.”

Tom Jojic (Crew Chief Bradley Smith):
“I was on Moto3 for the past three and a half years and I worked with Bradley before in Moto2. So when he joined this MotoGP project he requested that I come to be his crew chief. Today, this test was the first time for me to be crew chief for Bradley in this team. I came to the Misano test after Brno just to watch for three days and understand what was going on and what they were working on. It was my first time working with the motorcycle, and to try to understand how it works and how to fit it together with Bradley’s needs. He is quite confident on the bike and the two riders were closer than we expected, especially on the first day. The fact that we always improved on the bike was important. In general I am quite happy for this first test.”

Mike Leitner (Team Manager):
“We are happy because this was the first time where we had to perform under pressure, so no excuses when the others are here. But there are no question marks. Everything is clear. We know where we are and we know what we have to do, and this is super important for the next steps. Actually the riders’ impression was not so bad but we have to make the steps and we have to improve the lap times. We are in a high competition and the other manufacturers are so long here and have so much experience. The riders are quite happy with the bike’s ability and the braking. Of course the speed is a key factor in MotoGP for every manufacturer. You cannot pick up in two days what the others have achieved in a whole season.”

Sebastian Risse (Technical Director):
“We now know where we are, what we can expect form the tires and what not and what the other motorcycles can do and not do. We can now concentrate on what we can improve and what is possible to improve. The biggest point in this test was the engine brakes but that was not a point that demands a complete rethink. Otherwise we had input regarding the chassis. What we can do in various steps and how we can step by step improve the development parts for the test in Jerez. There will be two focuses next week in Jerez, certainly to follow up on these impressions with Mika (Kallio) and to bring him to a point that he, as our test rider, can work on these critical points and can understand them like the (factory) riders.”

There will be more testing in Jerez from Wednesday to Friday next week, which will be the 14th and final private test on this year’s program. After that, no testing is permitted in December 2016 and January 2017. Due to still existing rider contractual obligations, Mika Kallio, the team’s regular test rider will take his place next to factory rider Bradley Smith at the Jerez tests.

Results Day 1 IRTA Test Valencia 2016
1. Maverick Vinales (ESP), Yamaha, 1:30.930 min (55/61 laps)
2. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha, +0.020 sec (11/47)
3. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP), Ducati, +0.122 (53/60)
4. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda, +0.172 (33/53)
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Ducati, +0.201 (45/54)
19. Pol Espargaro (ESP), KTM, +1.638 (39/57)
20. Bradley Smith (GBR), KTM, +1.876 (36/52)

Results Day 2 IRTA Test Valencia 2016
1. Vinales, 1:29.975 min (66/76)
2. Marquez, +0.196 sec (58/78)
3. Dovizioso, +0.468 (33/61)
4. Andrea Iannone (ITA), Suzuki, +0.624 (47/51)
5. Dani Pedrosa (ESP), Honda, +0.711 (38/41)
17. P. Espargaro, +1.878 (33/70)
20. Smith, +2.563 (34/59)

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