Red Bull KTM team clinches 5th in MotoGP Constructors & score hat trick in Moto2
RACE 18th Rd. MotoGP 2017 – Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo (ESP)
KTM have written more history today as their debut season in MotoGP and Moto2 came to a crescendo with Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing clinching fifth in the Manufacturers title and the Red Bull Ajo Moto2 team brilliantly winning their third Grand Prix on the bounce after Australia, Malaysia and now Valencia. It is the perfect springboard for KTM to go into testing for the 2018 season that starts this very week in Spain with bikes from Moto3, Moto2 and MotoGP.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing had a target at the half way point of 2017 to get a top 10 finish in the second half of the season: They did just that at the very first race back from the summer break, and in total have been inside that target top 10 no less than seven times. Bradley Smith took 11th today and crucial points in the manufacturers championship to take KTM to fifth in the table of six top flight manufacturers who battle in the premier class of MotoGP.
Pol Espargaro had a rare tumble today as did Mika Kallio in the race, but they did so on a day when many had big offs. For Espargaro though, his highlight this year was a ninth in Brno and a sixth on the grid in Australia. Kallio’s best was a tenth in Spielberg during one of his four wildcard appearances while Smith’s racing best was tenth in Misano and Australia.
The team now has five days of testing at Valencia and Jerez with the KTM RC16 before the winter break and the resumption of testing next year before the first race in Qatar on March 18th.
Smith: “That as a special day and to be able to overcome Aprilia was very special for me. I went head to head with Aleix (Espargaro), giving it everything I could to ruffle his feathers a little and that seem to work. I did my job and I kept the pressure on. The race was good as I hit my marks all I could and hold a mid-32 lap time, then it was a case of survival as the tyres went away with others losing the front. Another very close to top ten finish today keeps our top 11 every race since Brno so roll on the work for the tests prior to the break; 2018 is not far away!”
Espargaro: “We must be proud and happy of what we have done this year. Overall we’ve had a good year as we finished much higher than where we started so the progression this year has been unbelievable. No one expected where we were going to finish so I’m so proud of the guys working here at the track and the team at the factory in Austria developing this bike. This is so important for us. Sure, we finish the season today but next season starts tomorrow with testing so we have new parts and new ideas to do and this makes everyone pumped up, so let’s go for 2018 and let’s aim for another step up.”
Kallio: “When we started the third lap going into the second corner and I braked normally but suddenly I lost the front without any warning. I’m fine but it’s sad to finish the season like this as I wanted to bring some points to KTM, so now we’ll enjoy the evening together. During the season the steps we did were amazing and when we started to come close to the top ten this was something some others in the paddock did not expect but it was then other teams started to look at us. Thanks so much from my side of the garage as this test team has been working really well testing and racing – it was not easy jumping into the race mood and race weekends but they did a great job without any mistakes so it was a pleasure to race with KTM again.”
Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP): “We all our proud of this first KTM MotoGP season, especially the second part of the year. I must say once more thanks to all the effort from so many individuals, especially the riders who’ve pushed hard but today it was Bradley who scored the points to get us fifth in the manufacturers championship. Of course it wasn’t great Pol had to start from the pit lane but that’s a reason of the pace of our development with the new chassis. Mika tumbled off but many others went down today so it wasn’t easy. Now we focus on a good winter test and look to 2018.”