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Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completed Day 3 at the Qatar Test in seventh place after setting a 1:54.770, finishing 0.562 off Maverick Viñales’ (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) P1 time.
To be half a second off and P8 on the combined timesheets is something that impressed Espargaro when reflecting on the three days, with the Spaniard upbeat with KTM’s potential this season.
First look: KTM colours on track in Qatar
“I’m impressed with the potential of our bike and what we have done here,” said Espargaro. “This is normally a track we struggle at in previous years and yeah, to see us half a second off every day in Qatar… the first day I didn’t expect to be there, the second day, and it happened today. But yeah I’m quite impressed, we did a good job, a good lap, a good rhythm. The bike feels good and we’re in the top ten, even a little bit better. So yeah, quite nice.”
Over 31 seconds separated the nearest KTM to last year’s Qatar GP race winner Andrea Dovizioso in 2018, but with the strides forward seemingly being taken on Espargaro’s side of the garage, does the number 44 rider think he can keep up his top ten pace and stay closer to the leaders this time around?
“Well I don’t know in one week everything can change. The track conditions change, we can race a little earlier on at seven. But yeah, what’s happened in this test, I mean it’s quite positive and we have a good target for the race. We need to go slowly and take care of what we are doing, but what we are doing is good and we are doing our job.
Decision time at the Qatar Test
“We have a few problems with the front of our bike with the soft tyre,” continued Espargaro, when asked what the main focus is between now and the race. “Maybe also the conditions…there were a lot of crashes. Everyone is suffering with those conditions, and yeah we need to do the best we can to try and have a good performance in the race but also safe so we don’t lose those first points of the season.”
A top ten at the end of the Qatar Test is a sure sign the KTM are heading in the right direction. But can they take home a good haul of points from the opening night in the desert? Find out on 10th March!
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