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Red Bull KTM Factory Racing wrote an important bit of history for the Austrian manufacturer at Termas de Rio Hondo, as both riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith crossed the line in the points to open KTM’s account in the premier class.
Despite never having ridden or tested at the track with the RC16, Espargaro crossed the line in P14 and Smith just behind his teammate, with the 'Bull' able to battle with Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing) and Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) for the first time.
Pol Espargaro, P14: “What is the most important for the guys and the whole team is that this is the first time in history that KTM has taken points in MotoGP. We must be happy. But on the other side, I think we had the opportunity to do a little more. We are missing some speed in the straight to overtake the two guys I was fighting with, (Hector) Barbera and Tito (Rabat). It was a shame because I felt faster and we were faster today. We could have been in front of them at the end of the race, but it was impossible to do it. We still have some weak points, but on the other side, I congratulate the guys, they are doing a good job. We are making steps, for sure we are still far away but we are starting to see the light.”
Bradley Smith, P15: “Today was a great day for us as a team because we scored our first points with both riders. We made a good step forward from Qatar because there we weren’t able to fight with the group ahead of us. Here we could both stay with Barbera and Tito for most of the race, so we improved by another 3-4 seconds. I was really pleased with my race. All weekend I was struggling to do one minute 41 (lap times) but then in the race they were all mid to low 41s so I was happy with that. Of course we need to continue to improve but right now we have to be happy with what we are doing race-by-race. The next one in Austin (USA) is going to be tough for us. We have no data or information, there are 22 corners and it’s quite a technical layout so it’s going to be difficult.”
Mike Leitner, MotoGP Team Manager: “Everybody should take all these positive things from what has happened here, and I think the company especially should be motivated because we clearly see that there is a future. If we do the correct things, we will have more interesting races where we can fight with the other manufacturers and riders. This is what was super positive about today because for the first time Pol was directly fighting with other riders. He could see the strong and the weak points of the bike even better and the lap times were acceptable. This was a brand new track for us, and we have to be realistic. A lot of tracks we go to now will be new for us. We can only take the positives with us and try to learn, and to improve. Then next year when we come back to these places we will have already reached another level in our package.”
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