Tough start to the 2018 MotoGP season for Red Bull KTM at Qatar

Posted on Mar 17, 2018 by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

The very first day of qualification for the Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team collective saw Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro secure positions on the seventh and eighth rows of the grid at a hot, windy and dusty Losail International Circuit for the Grand Prix of Qatar.

Adverse conditions with the temperatures, abrasive track surface, strong breezy air and the variation of sessions (that saw practice taking place in hot afternoon sun and qualification in a cooler climate in the evening) were some of the challenges of a first action-packed Saturday of MotoGP in 2018.

The crew improved markedly with their feeling and speed over Friday’s practice sessions on the KTM RC16. Bradley experienced a minor issue that necessitated the use of his second race bike but the overall lack of grip was a problem that prevented the Briton from improving over 20th in Q2.

Bradley Smith (Factory Rider MotoGP):
“We’re just missing some grip and that's all it comes down to. The track is slowly getting better and I have some confidence that it will be better tomorrow. In general the bike feels like it did in the test and we just need to try and tweak some things to improve in these conditions. We’ll keep focussed and see what we can pull out tomorrow.”

Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP):
"Compared to yesterday then FP3 was a bit of a relief. It was the first time that bikes felt normal and for sure it is down to how the tyres feel and are changing each session on the asphalt but we improved. Unfortunately in FP4 and Qualification we could not show more. We had a few technical problems. Of course when you have moments like this then it is hard for the rider to find a rhythm through losing track time. We need to understand what happened exactly and get ready for tomorrow. Hopefully we can continue with what we had in FP3.”

Races: March 18, 2018 – Moto3 14:00 | Moto2 16:20 | MotoGP 17:00 CET

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