KTM’S new en­gine trans­forms race pace

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON MO­TOGP RE­PORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

The Red Bull KTM duo of Bradley Smith and Pol Es­par­garó had a sig­nif­i­cant break­through at Jerez af­ter ma­jor changes to their RC16 ma­chine saw them rad­i­cally slash the gap to the lead­ers.

De­but­ing their new ‘big-bang’ con­fig­u­ra­tion V4 en­gine in a preJerez test at Le Mans, they be­came the last of four man­u­fac­tur­ers to make the switch from a tra­di­tional ‘screamer’ en­gine – and chose to use it in the race.

“It felt more like the en­gine that I had last year,” ex­plained Smith. “It’s still dif­fer­ent but it’s go­ing in the right di­rec­tion and that is the di­rec­tion that ev­ery­one else is head­ing in, so it makes sense that we’d do it.

“We’ve al­ways been work­ing on

more torque from the very be­gin­ning – it’s some­thing Pol and I re­quested from the very first test in Jerez. It’s al­ways been the aim and it’s some­thing that we’d im­proved even with the other en­gines – but this is a big step to­wards that idea; we just need more time.”

De­spite it still be­ing very early days for the KTM project, Smith says that it made a big dif­fer­ence in Sun­day’s race as he took his best ever re­sult for KTM, fin­ish­ing 14th.

“It’s been a solid week­end for us,” he said. “From Fri­day we were able to get a good start in the wet and in the dry. Satur­day was pos­i­tive, and we had the chance to go through to Q2. The race was tricky, be­cause we’ve never rid­den the bike with those sort of track tem­per­a­tures so it’s still a learn­ing process.

“There are a few things we could have done bet­ter. But what a step forward we’ve made from the first three races – and I still be­lieve that we can make even more steps be­fore the next race at Le Mans.”

And while Smith’s 14th place was im­pres­sive in it­self, the race could have been even bet­ter, with Smith’s team­mate Pol Es­par­garó bat­tling for a top ten fin­ish when he crashed out.

“We tried too hard,” he told MCN af­ter­wards. “We had a chance to be at the top, but you have to take chances some­times to see if you’re able to be there. But to fi­nally be at that level shows that the KTM fac­tory have done a very good job, and I was sim­ply try­ing to re­ward them by giving them some good points – but I tried too hard!”

‘I be­lieve we can make even more steps forward be­fore Le Mans’ BRADLEY SMITH

Es­par­garo was set for a top-ten fin­ish... un­til he crashed out

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