Blast off for KTM in Austin

Espargaro grabs initial Q2 spot, Smith also finds some solid pace

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) put in a storming lap at the end of Q1 to earn his and the KTM’s first Q2 spot of the season at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, and the Spaniard initially qualified P12 on the grid - but then received a three-place grid penalty.

Despite this setback, the younger Espargaro brother was confident he can put in a strong performance tomorrow – but was left feeling hard done by after being hit with a three-place grid penalty.

“I think we made an amazing effort to make Q2 and we were very happy but I think what happened afterwards was not fair. We checked the images and I was not in the middle (of the track) and it is not comparable with other incidents today. I don't really know what is going on but I don't think it is fair we have to go back by three positions. We will go strong tomorrow. We made some good steps and the bike feels much better.”

On the other side of the garage, Bradley Smith was also pleased with how qualifying and FP4 went, identifying that the KTM’s race pace is solid after what had seemed on Friday like a tough weekend.

“FP4 went great and the first couple of sectors were good but I did not leave enough space and did not expect to catch (Jack) Miller so easily. I made a couple of mistakes as well but I’m pleased with 15th and we're a team so it was OK for Pol to ‘use’ me a couple of times out there: it is about time that we got into Q2.”

Now of course, Smith will start one place ahead of his teammate and from P14 on the grid, is a first point scoring finish of the season on the cards for the number 38? He seems confident he and his KTM team can have a good race tomorrow.

“15th is my best qualification this year and on race pace in FP4 we looked solid. We just need to keep that up for tomorrow. I think the grip is coming on this race track and this meant we could push forward more.”

Watch both Espargaro and Smith go racing when the lights go out at 14:00 local time (GMT -5).