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Pol Espargaro: “KTM’s progression is unbelievable”

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing took another top ten and another double points finish in Malaysia

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took KTM into Q2 once again at the Malaysian GP, and it made for a good omen on Sunday despite the weather changing for the race. Moving up from P12 on the grid to complete the top ten, the rain-soaked marathon certainly felt like just that to the rider from Granollers, but Espargaro says he felt good in the race – and battled Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) early on.

“It wasn’t easy,” explains the former Moto2™ World Champion. “These wet races here are quite long, at times feeling like they’re never going to finish, but I felt good at the start battling with Rossi early on even if I maybe lost a bit of time fighting with him. Then I got my rhythm and got into the top ten.”

Espargaro ran as high as seventh during the race, and was on for ninth by the chequered flag until getting attacked on the final lap. “My target was ninth but Viñales overtook me...but hey, just saying ‘Vinales overtook me on the last lap’ means we were fighting against someone of that level and that is something I’m proud of.”

It was also a great race at Sepang for teammate Bradley Smith, with the Brit launching himself from P16 on the grid into sixth by Lap 2 – not quite able to hold onto it as the amount of water on track lessened, but encouraged by some big steps forward of late.

“The start was good fun as I took chances trying to overtake as many as possible, using the best of the softer rear tyre that I had while it was wet,” describes the Brit. “Then I wasn’t quite able to make the final steps to defend that great start as the track didn’t quite dry out but just got ‘less wet’. But I was as close to the winner in terms of time today as I have been in the wet so we’re going in the right direction for that kind of set up for the coming races. It’s been a great three weeks of racing and I’ve really enjoyed getting back into a normal place that I believe I should be.”

#MalaysianGP: Multi-OnBoard Start

From the first forays of the season to their first points scored, first bike in Q2 and first top ten results, it’s been an incredible journey for KTM in their debut season so far. Pol Espargaro has a simple word for it: unbelievable. “Obviously, we want to improve but it’s been a long way since we did our first race in MotoGP with KTM. I think the progression we are doing is unbelievable, so this is another result for the team and the factory in Austria before we go to the last race in Valencia.”

And once the final curtain falls at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, it’s back on track soon after for 2018 to lay foundations for an even more impressive sophomore season.