Red Bull KTM Factory rider Pol Espargaro was ecstatic after securing a sixth place finish, KTM’s best dry result in MotoGP, during today’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
The Spaniard had shown good speed all weekend, despite qualifying in twelfth position after a crash. Espargaro had a fantastic start and quickly found himself in sixth place, holding onto the position for the remainder of the race.
“From FP1, fighting against these guys and around these guys, they just have good bikes,” said the 27-year-old.
“If we are able to make a good bike, a good KTM, we can be fighting with them and beating them as we have done today.
“Just five seconds off an HRC Honda after less than two years and a half, this is unbelievable. This means we have a good package, and that they’re not unbeatable.
“When I was doing 32.9-32.8s, I felt I couldn’t continue doing that because I was so on the limit, especially in the first corner I had big lock at 300 kph. Also I had some arm pump from moving the bike from one side to the other because I was simply on the limit, every lap.
“But I could do it, it means the bike can do it and even on the limit you can still continue doing it. I am so pleased with that.”
Espargaro spent the first three years of his MotoGP career on a Yamaha and today was chasing the Yamaha of Valentino Rossi and holding off the Yamaha of Franco Morbidelli. It gave the Spaniard the opportunity to compare his RC16 to the M1.
“Our stop and go was faster than Yamaha,” he explained.
“In some corners our acceleration was a little bit better because our corner speed was lower so they were catching me in that place, in corner seven like Petrucci. It was the only way they could overtake me, by corner speed.”