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After collecting their best dry result last time out in Le Mans, it seems like Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Pol Espargaro have picked up where they left off in France after the Spaniard took P4 on Friday at the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley.
KTM knew coming to Mugello was going to provide a real test for their RC16 machine but so far, Espargaro seems to be enjoying himself in the Tuscan hills as he finishes Day 1 just 0.234 from P1 and just over a tenth from the factory Ducati of Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati).
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“Yes, I’m pretty happy to be where we are because Mugello is a special place where it is really difficult to be fast, especially as there are a lot of Ducatis on the grid and they have the perfect set up here,” reflected the younger Espargaro brother, who will be aiming to consolidate a top ten place and gain automatic entry to Q2 in FP3 on Saturday morning.
“They’ve always been fast and to be in front of some of them today it’s been really interesting,” continued Espargaro, talking about Ducati. “There’s still some problems we need to improve for tomorrow but I’m feeling like a little bit flying after Le Mans. We are pushing exactly the same as we have done in the past, but our results are much better. So super comfy with the situation.”
KTM gave Espargaro a new engine for Le Mans and he’s using it again here, along with teammate Johann Zarco, with top speed always important at Mugello. And Pol has heaped praise on the “amazing” package that KTM have at their disposal, with new parts being tested every weekend.
“I’m not sure the carbon swingarm gives us too much here, in the fast areas sometimes the bike is a little too nervous on the rear and we need to try to improve that for tomorrow. But the package is amazing, look what we are doing; it’s unbelievable. A few races ago we weren’t even in the top ten and now we are where we are. It’s just the second practice but coming from Le Mans, this feels really nice.
“We have the same package from Le Mans. We’re using a new engine because this track speed is important. We are using exactly the same as Le Mans and we are trying to squeeze it to get the best.”
Can Espargaro and KTM keep up their nice little run of momentum and seal their place in Q2? It’s sure to be a feisty FP3 as big names try and get themselves into the all-important top ten – don’t miss a single lap! The action begins at 09:55 local time (GMT+2) for the premier class on Saturday morning.
1 year ago