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24 days ago
By motogp.com

Pol Espargaro: "Painful" to finish so close to podium

A career-best equalling dry result for KTM and in the podium hunt for the entirety - but it was almost so much more for the Spaniard

The Gran Premio Red Bull de España was hugely promising for KTM. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was able to scrap with the podium runners for the entire race, eventually having to settle for P6 – just one second away from spraying the bubbly for the second time in his MotoGP™ career.

Spanish GP: MotoGP™ race highlights

Throughout the weekend, the Spaniard was very pleased with how the RC-16 was performing. Espargaro admitted after Friday’s running, especially in the FP2 heat, that he expected the bike to perform worse than it did. Earning a Q2 place and then sticking in it P7 signalled a successful Saturday, and Sunday would also prove to be a great success. In conditions some riders described as tougher than Thailand and Malaysia, Polyccio was able to fight the likes of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) for the whole 25-lap combat.

Finishing sixth behind three Yamahas and two Ducatis, six seconds from the win and one from the rostrum is proof of KTM’s improvements. But the Spaniard admits is painful finishing so close to the podium, despite both he and team doing a very good job.

 

“We did a good job today. But when you’re so close to the podium, just one second away, you’re happy but at the same time in hurts a little because it’s just so hard to be there, when you’re that close, it’s painful,” began the 29-year-old. “But I tried so hard to overtake Dovi. I think I had one chance in the straight, but he overtook me back again with just pure power. I couldn’t do anything to stay in front of him for just two corners.

“I think the race would’ve changed a lot of us if I could’ve stayed in front of him for a while just to cool the front tyre or to get some air, I spent the all the race behind him and it was pretty hot. At the end, that sixth position feels very good. I was fighting for fourth, I lost out in the final corner so I took sixth, but we have another race in a few days and we’re going to fight there.”

Espargaro continues, talking about the 2020 KTM package: “The potential of the bike seems quite high at the moment. In that race especially, it wasn’t an easy one for us with hot conditions we normally struggle but actually we’re all quite surprised by the result. We were strong, good performance all weekend and we’re in Jerez, so we still have to go to the places that we’re faster at like Le Mans or Austria so I’m really looking forward to the year.”

 

Fellow KTM rider Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) also showed the potential of the RC-16 is high, the Portuguese rider equalling his best MotoGP™ finish with P8 in Jerez. It was an impressive display from the sophomore who will be taking Pol Espargaro’s seat next season, with the latter moving to Repsol Honda. Talking of HRC, Espargaro shared his thoughts on Marc Marquez’ huge crash.

“We knew that Marc all weekend was very fast with his race pace, he showed all weekend an amazing rhythm. But the conditions were very tricky and to crash was very easy. He was close to crashing once and he crashed at the second time. We were all dealing with problems and were trying not to crash and finish the race and finally, he couldn’t. But I really hope he’s okay and comes back as soon as possible.”

 

The Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucia provides KTM with another chance to fight for their first dry podium. With conditions looking like they’re going to be similar, can the Austrian factory finally do it? We don’t have to wait long to find out.

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