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12 days ago
By motogp.com

Espargaro: "KTM will be the biggest challenge in my career"

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider discusses his MotoGP career to date and his aspirations for the future - on a factory KTM.

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Espargaro: “KTM will be the biggest challenge in my career"

After a great rookie season for the 2013 Moto2™ World Champion upon his arrival in MotoGP™ in 2014, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Pol Espargaro suffered a more difficult second year in the premier class the following year. 2016 has seen a big turnaround for the Granollers native however, with the Spaniard sitting sixth in the title standings as the top independent team rider. Next year will see Espargaro go one better as he begins a new adventure in MotoGP™, having signed for the brand new factory KTM effort as the manufacturer prepares to line up on the grid.

“After a bad season you learn a lot, and my first season in MotoGP was really good,” says Espargaro of his MotoGP™ beginnings. “But last year I struggled so much - with the Bridgestone tyres, on the rear tyre especially, and I didn’t have good results. But this year we’re coming back.”

After an improved 2016, the coming season will see the younger of the two Espargaro brothers join current Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith in the new KTM team, with both the independent French outfit’s current riders making the move from satellite team to factory effort.

“I think it’s the biggest challenge in my career,” says the former Moto2™ World Champion of the switch. “It won’t be easy, the first year we will suffer a lot, but I’m 25 years old. If there is a moment in my career that I have to do something like this it’s now; so I’m going to try it. The problem at Tech 3 is that they can’t give me more than what they are giving to me - they are giving me everything they have. That is the main difference with a factory. When you struggle in one factory team you know that the factory makes everything for you to try to improve and in the end, you improve.”

The key motivation for the Catalan rider in making the move is definitely the factory support, with Espargaro targeting wins and a firm believer that challenging at the front on a regular basis means having a factory bike - with full factory support. With the exception of EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller, who took victory in Assen this season, all premier class races since Toni Elias won at Estoril in 2006 have been won by riders on full factory machinery.

"If there is a moment in my career that I have to do something like this, it’s now." Pol Espargaro

“To win, you can’t do it as a satellite rider in a satellite team,” affirms the Spaniard. “You have to be a factory rider in a factory team, because we saw on the last races on the last years that the ones who win are just factory. When I sat down with KTM I felt some positive energy around me. And I said ok, I have to go there, I have to try, I have to put everything I have on the table to try to improve this bike and maybe one day I’ll be fighting with the top guys. And if we could do that, my feeling will be bigger than with other manufacturers.”

Espargaro will be back on track on his YZF-M1 at the Red Bull Ring – Spielberg in Austria first, as the former world champion makes the most of his last year as a Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider and fights to stay on top of the independent standings – with the challenge led by Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera.

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