Best qualifying for Red Bull KTM’s Bradley Smith on the KTM RC16 in Texas MotoGP

Courtesy of KTM Racing

Bradley Smith & Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

Red Bull KTM MotoGP Factory Racing Team on Sunday will contest the team’s third MotoGP race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, another new and difficult track for the debut factory team. Bradley Smith (GBR) will start from the sixth row of the grid for Sunday’s race, but factory teammate Pol Espargaro (ESP) will start from the back after crashing out in turn two in the last minutes of the qualifying session. Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Miguel Oliveira  (POR) was seventh fastest Moto2 qualifier but was just 0.938 seconds off the fastest time. Fastest KTM Moto3 rider was Niccolo Bulega of the Sky Racing Team VR46.

The long, sweeping American circuit has 20 corners and both free practices and qualifying sessions were peppered with action and multiple crashes among riders of all three classes of the competition.

Bradley Smith KTM RC16 Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

Bradley Smith: “The pace in the front is fast and here we always knew it was going to be difficult for us. We’ve done a lot of work this weekend but finally at the right moment I think we were where we needed to be. I didn’t do the perfect lap, but it was my best of the weekend so we have to be happy with that. Tomorrow we’ll have to see what the weather is like and that will help us make the right decision about tire choice. Obviously, it’s more critical with the rear tire because at the moment it is quite cool conditions. I feel good that we can at least push on tomorrow and see what we can do. It’s going to be a long race and we know that tire degradation here is always the most difficult part. But I know the KTM is quite easy on tires, so fingers crossed Sunday will bring us even better performance, just like in the other two rounds. It is going to be 21 hard laps.”

Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

Pol Espargaro: “This morning was not bad. We found a good setting for the bike and a good balance and it looked like we had everything ready for the qualifying. Actually, I did the first lap quite fast then some riders spoiled my lap. I thought we were too slow in that lap so I pushed, and I crashed. I had a good feeling on the bike and I thought I would be able to improve the lap times much more. In the end what counts for tomorrow is that we have to start from the back. It will be more fun because we will have to fight a little bit more. Anyway, I’m happy because we have a good balance on the bike and we will fight tomorrow.”

Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “For sure this track is special and it has many corners that need different things from the bike. So you need to compromise. To find this compromise you need experience, and you need kilometers on this track, so we are learning. You can see we are improving but we are not improving enough to be as close to the top in terms of lap times as at the other race weekends. But okay, I think we are going forward, we need to continue to move forward, and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”

Moto2
Miguel Oliveira, who took Red Bull KTM Ajo’s first Moto2 podium place in the second round in Argentina, continues to look very strong on the track. Oliveira was also fourth in the first round in Qatar and his qualifying lap time indicated he would be a strong contender in Sunday’s race.

Miguel Oliveira KTM Moto2 Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

Oliveira: “The qualifying session here in Austin went quite well. In the end, with this seventh position we are a little bit further back than we were hoping to be, bearing in mind how the Free Practice sessions went. Nevertheless, we were able to ride at a good pace, completing more laps in the 2:10s. I am happy with how the bike is behaving, but we can still continue improving some details to make it easier for the whole race. Tomorrow we will try to make a good start and hold on in the top positions. I think the second half of the race will be very important, because it is a very physical circuit.”

Spanish rider Ricky Cardus, the team’s test rider for the Moto2 project is replacing Brad Binder this weekend. The South African is recovering from corrective surgery on an arm fracture.

Ricard Cardus KTM Moto2 Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

Cardus said there were some places on the circuit that they were losing time. “We know where they are and what we have to work on,” he added. “I am fully confident in this team for tomorrow, because every time we go out on track there is a giant step forward with the bike. Tomorrow we will be ready to fight.”

Moto3
Top Moto3 qualifier for Sunday’ race in Texas was Italian Nicolo Bulega of the Sky Racing Team VR46 who was fourth fastest, 1.171 seconds off the fastest pace of Aaron Canet. Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) registered eighth fastest to start tomorrow in the middle of the third row. Teammate Bo Bendsneyder (NED) was tenth fastest. The first 15 riders were within two seconds of Canet’s fastest time, setting the stage for a thrilling race on Sunday.

Nicolo Bulega KTM RC250 GP Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

Bulega: “Compared to yesterday we did a great step forward. I was able to feel my bike, to ride as I wanted and I’m very happy with this fourth place. I could improve a little bit more my lap time, but in my last attempt, I was fighting with Mir, Oettl and Antonelli and lost something. I am confident about the race, it will be crucial to choose the right tyre.”

Niccolo Antonelli KTM RC250 GP Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

Antonelli: “Today went well. We improved our best times by a lot in each session, and we took an important step forward. I’m a little short of finding the perfect traction to get the best angle, because I still can’t do it consistently. Let’s see if in the warm-up we can finish defining it. We’ll see what happens in the race, but I think we can fight for the podium.”

Races: Sunday, April 23, 2017 – Moto3 18:00 | Moto2 19:20 | MotoGP 21:00 CET

Bradley Smith & Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library


Results Qualifying MotoGP Circuit of the Americas 2017

1. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda, 2:02.701 min
2. Maverick Vinales (ESP), Yamaha, +0.130 sec
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Honda, +0.932
4. Dani Pedrosa (ESP), Honda, +1.125
5. Johann Zarco (FRA), Yamaha, +1.187
Other KTM
18. Bradley Smith (GBR), KTM, +3.517

21. Pol Espargaro (ESP), KTM, +4.860

Results Qualifying Moto2 Circuit of the Americas 2017
1. Franco Morbidelli (ITA), Kalex, 2:09.379 min
2. Mattia Pasini (ITA)), Kalex, +0.167
3. Alex Marquez (ESP), Kalex, +0.242
4. Takaaki Nakagami (JAP), Kalex, +0.581
5. Thomas Luthi (SUI), Kalex, +0.601
Other KTM
7. Miguel Oliveira (POR), KTM, +0.938
10. Ricard Cardus (ESP), KTM, +1.038

Nicolo Bulega & Staff Box Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

Results Qualifying Moto3 Circuit of the Americas 2017
1. Aron Canet (ESP), Honda, 2:14.644 min
2. Joan Mir (ESP), Honda, +0.987 sec
3. Romano Fenati (ITA), Honda, +0.997
4. Nicolo Bulega (ITA), KTM, +1.171
5. Jorge Martin (ESP), Honda, +1.277
Other KTM
8. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA), KTM, +1.416
10. Bo Bendsneyder (NED), KTM, +1.640

Bo Bendsneyder KTM RC250 GP Austin 2017
Copyright: © Gold and Goose KTM Media Library

www.motogp.com | www.redbull.com
www.ktm.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.