KTM Hopes For Top Five At Sepang. Ends Up On Bottom Five.

Pretty motorcycles. At least they look fast. Wolf Jay Flywheel

Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team back in action at Sepang Test
MotoGP IRTA Test 2018 – Sepang International Circuit (MAL)

Sepang hosted the opening MotoGP test of the year and saw the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team back on track for the first time in 2018. A crash ruled Pol Espargaro out of action for the final of total tree days but the test saw plenty of positives for the team with Bradley Smith and Mika Kallio able to work through an extensive testing programme.

Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP): “This was a good test and there are a lot of positives. It was a shame that Pol crashed because it was a small mistake that had a big impact on our week. Anyway we have been able to do some basic work and it looks as though it is easy to set a fast laptime and to be able to keep a constant rhythm. The potential of the bike leaves us positive because we have been able to set some fast times but we know that there is still work to be done to be competitive at the start of the season. Our target is to be ready for Round 1.”

Pol Espargaro: “I feel lucky because I had a big crash on Day 2 and I hit the wall at more than 250 kmp/h. I’m happy not feeling too bad physically but I’m in pain from rolling through the gravel. I had some x-rays and nothing is broken but I have pain when I move so if I am still in pain when I get home I will have some further checks. Even though I couldn’t ride on the final day it was still good to be with the team and able to work with them in the background. It’s a shame to miss Day 3 and not to be able to test what we planned but Mika was able to ride my bike. It’s good because I trust his feedback 100% and it means we were still be able to get a lot of work done here in Sepang.”

Bradley Smith: “Obviously it’s a busy test schedule here in Sepang and after Pol’s crash it has meant that myself and Mika have had to work through a lot. It’s been a chance for us to evaluate a lot of different things and to give us a direction on what to do. On Day 3 the grip was a little less and that means that it’s good conditions for us to test in. Usually when the track gets grippy and hot we struggle a little bit so it’s been good to have these conditions. I’m generally quite pleased with what we’ve tested because I think that we’ve got a good base to work with at the Thailand tests in a few days time.”

Mika Kallio: “The biggest job for me was to compare the 2017 and 2018 bikes. We have both here so I was able to back to back both bikes. I was working mostly on the electronics and new WP front forks this week. Conditions were quite good this week and even at the two day private test just before I was able to get a lot of work completed. In the official test I crashed twice so it was more difficult for me. I crashed in the heavy braking zone twice and that’s unusual for me so we need to analyse the data and see why I have a slightly different feeling on the new bike compared to the previous model. We will go through the data to understand carefully what is the next step for the development of this bike because Pol and Bradley had similar comments about the feeling from the front.”

Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “Our target for this test was to compare the baseline specification 2018 bike to what we finished last season using. The new bike has some areas that work quite well and we were able to get more comfortable with the bike. The conditions in Sepang are always a little difficult because you have to adapt to the weather and change your test programme each day accordingly. It was a good test and we found some positive direction that we can work further on. This test is almost seen as a double header for us with the Thailand test and it will be very useful to be able to compare the feedback from Sepang and Thailand. To have two different tracks to compare the data on is always good.”

The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team will be back at track with both factory riders middle of February for another three-day IRTA test on Chang International Circuit in Thailand, which is new in this years MotoGP calender.

Combined Results MotoGP IRTA Test Sepang International Circuit 2018
1. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP), Ducati, 1:58.830 min, 109/130 laps (Day 3)
2. Dani Pedrosa (ESP), Honda, +0.179 sec, 121/170 (Day 3)
3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR), Honda, +0.222, 94/141 (Day 3)
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Ducati, +0.339, 83/118 (Day 3)
5. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati, +0.516, 98/123 (Day 3)
17. Pol Espargaro (ESP), KTM, +1.432, 46/61 (Day 2)
18. Mika Kallio (FIN), KTM, +1.634, 112/122 (Day 3)
19. Bradley Smith (GBR), KTM, +1.690, 82/158 (Day 2)

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