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Red Bull KTM Factory Racing made a huge leap forward in the Spanish GP, with Pol Espargaro finishing both FP2 and FP4 in the top ten - and Bradley Smith scoring yet more points in their debut season. Espargaro crashed out of the race, but the pace from both saw massive progress – as everything seems to be coming together:
Pol Espargaro: "I tried too much! I had a good chance to be inside the top ten today but you have to try to see if you can be there because we have the tools here at Jerez after the work that the KTM Factory Racing team has done with the engine. I was trying to reward them, give them some points and a position to be happy with, but I tried a bit too hard."
Bradley Smith: "It's been solid weekend for us as from Friday we made a good start in both the damp and dry conditions, but added to that was a positive Saturday with a great time in the morning that nearly got us through to Q2. Qualifying was solid but it was tricky in the race today as we'd never run with these kind of track temperatures with a hard front tyre, so it's still a learning process. With hindsight, we could have changed some things but that's what we learn as a team with this project...but what a step forward from the first three races and a great step to again look forward to at the next race at Le Mans."
Before Le Mans it was back on track for testing, however, with both riders incredibly positive about the extra track time and the leaps forward the manufacturer continues to make, ending the day in P16 and P17. Test rider Mika Kallio was also on track gathering data - and preparation for Le Mans
Pol Espargaro: "Today was a day to re-test the engine, try different settings and try something new with the chassis...just try something new and different that we couldn't do during the last three races. It was interesting, lots of information. It's always positive to test new pieces and re test things we've had in mind at other races. I'm happy at the end, we couldn't do the best lap time so we're a bit far but we know where we are and we're much better now...just testing the bike and step by step getting ready for Le Mans."
Bradley Smith: "We made some massive improvements in between the last round and this round, bringing the upgrades. I suppose today was more about finding what else we could bring to the party, so we didn't really do a lot of laps because we concentrated on quality rather than quantity. Tried to focus on different bits and pieces, geometry settings, bike balance, that sort of stuff to give us a general idea and reconfirm some stuff we did in winter testing with the old engine, to check if we can find anything positive with the new one. Overall it was a good day, there's always positives and negatives. We also learned a bit more with this harder front tyre, learning how to set up the bike with those type of things, and also practice starts - which sounds simple but it makes life easier if in the first few laps you can be a bit further forward. Putting the sprinkles on our cake, so to speak. I think we have to take everything with a pinch of salt because this track is a special one but we were working on stuff today for hard braking tracks like Le Mans. We took the opportunity at Turns like Turn 1, 2, 6... to try a few different ideas that could help us for Le Mans...trying to think a bit intelligently, and make sure we're ahead of the game next week. The fact we were testing at Le Mans last week is going to help us too. I also think the new tyre is a good direction, obviously the other one has very good positives on the side of the tyre, but the way MotoGP is going and the more we learn about the bikes and expect even harder braking, especially at tracks like Le Mans, and Mugello...I think the new tyre is going to be the better one for the future."
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