Tricky and engaging fifth round for Red Bull KTM at Le Mans
Posted on May 20, 2018 by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
With a reasonable track temperature and the enticing promise of top ten potential at the iconic French facility (that first hosted a motorcycle Grand Prix in 1969 and has been a popular draw for MotoGP since 2000), both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro set off from the sixth row of the grid. The Le Mans asphalt counted out a number of names, riders like Andrea Iannone, Andrea Dovizioso and home favourite Johann Zarco, but #44 and #38 KTM RC16 diligently pushed for the best points and positions throughout the 27 laps.
Smith tried to relegate Franco Morbidelli to reach the top thirteen but was unable to defy the Italian in what would have been a ranking to equal his highest of 2018.
Bradley Smith (Factory Rider MotoGP):
“I’m pleased with the race. I lost a bit of time at the beginning with the battling on the opening laps. I was keeping stable with the guys by mid-race and then struggled to get back to them. 14th is another points-scoring position and I was having a good fight with Morbidelli at the end. We improved another fifteen seconds over our race distance last year so again KTM is making gains but the competition keeps getting higher and higher. Heads down now and thoughts towards the two-day test in Barcelona and we need to try the new surface. I enjoy Mugello and the bike has some good power and potential. It is always a favourite of mine on the calendar with the undulations and the crazy Italian fans. It’s a pleasure to ride there.”
Mike Leitner (Team Manager):
“A race team is a race team and we are always looking for targets ahead of us. At the moment we are stuck around these positions…but that does not mean it is easy to earn these positions! It is the limit we are hitting at the moment and everybody in the team and the company is working very hard to make a step on the technical side because we have to help our riders get into the top ten. That is the goal for the season and it will not happen overnight but we are pushing hard for it. I hope we can bring an update and start to beat our previous best results.”
Next Race: June 3, 2018 – Mugello (ITA)