2019 has seen Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have a hugely positive start with Pol Espargaro and during MotoGP™ FP2 at the Gran Premi Monster Energy de Catalunya, KTM Motorsport Director Pit Beirer stopped to have a chat with motogp.com pitlane reporter Simon Crafar to chat about their continuing progress, Johann Zarco and Dani Pedrosa’s input after the two-day private Brno test last week.
“I’m very happy that we took another step in the project, which basically happened around Jerez,” said Beirer to Crafar, commenting about the steps forward the Austrian factory is making this year. “We had the parts there, we didn’t use them in the race but in the test after the race. We made a good step forward but then with the test results, you’re still nervous. You want to prove it in a race, so we can see we made a step forward, then we went to Mugello, which was a terrible track for us last year and we could show some highlights on the Free Practice days; the Friday and Saturday.
“Still the race was not easy but we became closer, so overall we made a step in the project but everything is still super… for us because when you find something, you put things and when you find something you want these parts for everybody immediately but they are not there because you cannot prove everything 20 times, just in case it’s good. So, it’s still thin ice for us, I would say, but now we understand 100% more what we want and want we need to deliver to make it better and more confident and that’s great to see. We try to give him (Pol) whatever he needs to try to improve more and bring all the material to the other boys.”
Beirer than discusses Zarco’s ongoing struggles with the RC16, with the German confirming the Frenchman has the carbon swingarm and other small modifications to try at the Catalan GP this weekend.
“It’s still a big challenge for us to make him happy and we try every week to give him something that can give him more confidence. This will still need a little bit more time but I promise you that we won’t give up on that one. Pol knows the bike better, so he’s asking for clear things for testing, Pol likes them, but Johann doesn’t know really, so we produce for Pol. But, once you see in the race, now, how Pol can use the advantage of these parts, it’s necessary that we bring them as soon as possible to try.
“Johann’s always one step back in material but not because we don’t want to give it to him, it’s really Pol who asks for these directions and they work well for our bike. I think some of these parts will work for testing also for Johann and let’s see. We made another step today, bringing him the carbon swingarm and some other small modifications too. We need to keep pushing and we need to get Johann better, that’s clear. We need to give him something to make it easier for him to ride the bike. It’s clear to see that’s what we have to do.”
And what about KTM’s MotoGP™ Legend test rider? Pedrosa completed his first test with the Austrian factory in Brno last week and Beirer sang the praises of the three-time Champion when speaking to Crafar.
“This is, for us an unbelievable value,” affirmed Beirer. “You wouldn’t believe how precise this guy is. I knew him a lot before and he’s always super nice but we didn’t know what to expect, really, from him as a test rider. I think Mike Leitner knew but he didn’t really promote him in the company because he didn’t want to say we must take this ex-rider to improve the project but I’m so happy we have him because after two days riding with him, and the comments he gives on the bike and clear requests to the technicians, it’s so good. He doesn’t talk a lot but in two or three sentences he’s on the point and the technicians clearly understand what to do.”
A P4 for Espargaro on Day 1 aboard KTM’s new bike again confirms more progress is being made, but can they keep up their positive pace in Barcelona on Saturday and Sunday? Time will tell…