1 month ago
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After a quiet weekend at the San Marino GP, it seems KTM have found and rectified the issues and are back on form at the Gran Premio TISSOT dell'Emilia Romagna e della Riviera di Rimini, with three of their riders finishing in the top eight on Friday.
The fastest of them all is Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who sits 0.002 ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) on Day 1 and 0.071 faster than teammate and fifth fastest Pol Espargaro. The times at the top are ridiculously close in the premier class, but the Austrian factory seems to be back to the form that we’ve become accustomed to seeing in 2020.
Espargaro, Binder, Miguel Oliveira and Red Bull KTM Tech3 teammate Iker Lecuona finished P10, P11, P12 and P14 respectively in San Marino, with P10 the worst finishing position of the lead KTM rider this season. However, it seems – with the help of Tuesday’s test – that the orange army have been able to find some added speed for the second weekend at Misano. Binder’s fastest time in FP2 was just a couple of tenths shy of Maverick Viñales’ (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) outright lap record.
Styrian GP race winner Oliveira sits P8, but the Portuguese rider is just three tenths shy of Binder’s benchmark. Lecuona is P14 after the opening day of action at the Emilia Romagna GP, but the Spanish rookie is just 0.6 off the pace. All four riders have shown good pace on Free Practice Friday, and there’s every chance that they’ll all be heading straight into Q2 after FP3 on Saturday morning.
Speaking after Friday's action, Day 1 pacesetter Binder admitted that last weekend was really tough – and the test on Tuesday also wasn’t easy. But he and his team have found something in FP2 to leave the South African smiling.
“Yeah it’s been tough so far (at Misano), last weekend was really, really tough for all of us. The test was also really difficult for me, I struggled to find that little bit extra that I needed. But the second exit in FP2 we made some changes and I felt way more comfortable on the bike, and it’s the first time I’ve actually been able to actually stop. It helped a lot, hats off to the guys for sorting that one out. So let’s see, the bike worked great but I only did two fast laps so let’s check tomorrow. FP3 will give us an opportunity to go out and give us an opportunity to do a race simulation, and see where we’re really at,” said Binder.
KTM rolled out a new chassis at the test, but are the riders using it this weekend?
“No, we did try a new chassis but it was to get more information to the guys at the factory going forward. We’re back to where we’re were, we’ve played quite a lot with the balance of the bike, little bit with the springs and whatnot, all normal stuff. I’m a lot happier now than I was last weekend and even in FP1, I’m really glad we found this little thing and I hope it transfers into good race pace so let’s see tomorrow.”
The next step for KTM? Qualifying. Automatic Q2 entry will be the first protocol – something none of the riders were able to do last weekend – which looks promising, on paper. However, Espargaro was the highest-placed rider on Saturday at the San Marino GP in P11 – something that can’t be repeated if KTM fancy a crack at the rostrum, or better, this time around.
Tune in for MotoGP™ FP3 at 09:55 (GMT+2) to see how the four KTM stars get on ahead of FP4 and qualifying.
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