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27 days ago
By Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

KTM: Espargaro and Smith only 0.011s apart over the line

Espargaro and Smith talk about Phillip Island – where they both came home in the top ten after a late duel

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith both had great weekends at Phillip Island, and took a double top ten finish for the Austrian marque as the fought it out over the final laps for ninth. Espargaro, a Moto2™ winner at the track with the biggest winning margin in the class’ history – 16 seconds – loves the Australian venue, and teammate Smith is another with a good record there, having taken his first premier class podium at the venue in 2014. It was far from easy for the two in 2017, but both brought home yet more points for KTM - and showed yet another incredible leap forward.

“It was a tricky race because the grip was a lot lower than previously,” says Espargaro, despite the stunning result. “I struggled a lot to keep the rear tyres safe and the top group at the beginning were making a big gap and I wasn’t able to continue with them.”

#AustralianGP: Multi-OnBoard Start

The tyres, around the demanding Phillip Island track, were also a concern for Smith: “To be honest I would say the first half was good and then when we had a drop in the tyres it was more difficult to maintain the high pace of the front guys, but if we look behind us then there were a lot of guys that were at a high level.”

“It was a good battle between Pol and I in the last laps,” says Smith. “I didn’t manage to keep him behind us, but nevertheless to have this result in the dry isn’t something that I’ve done all season, so it’s a good positive.”

“It was a good battle between Pol and I in the last laps,” says Smith. “I didn’t manage to keep him behind us, but nevertheless to have this result in the dry isn’t something that I’ve done all season, so it’s a good positive.”

#AustralianGP: MotoGP™ Full Race

It is, with yet more incredible progress made for the Austrian factory in their first season who, Espargaro says, are now constantly exceeding their initial expectations from the start of the season.

“This is a team job and we achieved another Top 10,” beams the former Moto2™ World Champion. “We keep improving and the Top 10 was the target at the beginning of the year in maybe one race, and now we are constantly there. But we need to keep checking the problems so we can improve them.”

Next up is the challenging Sepang International Circuit, with the goalposts moved once again. The Austrian factory arrive on a high after their Australian GP – with MotoGP™ a success and Moto2™ having seen them take their first ever 1-2 with Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder at Red Bull KTM Ajo.

Binder: "I'm happy about the 1-2 finish for KTM"

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