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Pol Espargaro embarks on a new challenge in 2017, joining Red Bull KTM Factory Racing as the Austrian factory go for glory in the premier class. After the first appearance for the all-new KTM at the season finale of 2016 in Valencia when test rider Mika Kallio participated as a wildcard, the team now prepare for the first testing of 2017 at Sepang International Circuit on 30th January, and the 2017 season. In the winter break ahead of getting back on track, Espargaro sat down with motogp.com to talk about this new stage of his career and the project ahead.
Espargaro looking forward to KTM challenge
Pol Espargaro: “I’ve learnt a lot of things both on the bike and off the bike and I think all of them will be used with KTM – but I’m still young and I have a lot of things to learn. I hope I’ll keep learning until I retire.”
After moving up to MotoGP™ as the reigning Moto2™ Champion at the end of 2013, joining Red Bull KTM Factory Racing sees Espargaro on a factory bike for the first time – eager to improve and move forward, but aware of the project’s infancy.
PE44: “KTM have big ideas. Where they go, they win. So they’re confident of their potential, but it’s still a very young project. So we need experience. But I’m quite positive. From the first race we need to keep improving, until the last one. We’re here to try, and show that KTM can do it.”
KTM have been testing with a host of different riders since inception, and has already made big leaps forward. Now the Austrian factory steps into the MotoGP™ limelight full-time, some key differences to their competitors will be eyed with interest.
PE44: “We’re using different front forks than no one is using – I don’t know if that will be a problem or an advantage, but it’s certainly different. The tubular chassis is the most worrying thing – not because it’s bad; because it’s new. Nobody has tried it. KTM uses it everywhere else they race – but it’s really different to what MotoGP is used to. So we’re going to try it!”
Alongside Espargaro in the all-new KTM box will be Bradley Smith, his former teammate at Monster Yamaha Tech 3, but the Spaniard explains a big change in dynamic as the two join this new challenge with KTM – collaboration, to get to the top as soon as possible.
PE44: “Your teammate is the first person you need to beat but for sure we need to help each other next year. Especially because we have huge amounts of work to do, together with the team. We need to start from the base, step-by-step, and work together. When we’re on top, if we get there, then we’ll fight each other. But until then we have to help each other!”
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