Red Bull KTM Factory rider Pol Espargaro further highlighted the speed deficiencies of the factory Yamaha after stating that he overtook the Italian ‘like he was stopped’ during the opening day of MotoGP free practice in Mugello.
The Italian has been upset with the top speed of his YZR-M1 this year, pointing to the speed traps last time out in France, where he was the bottom of the list. An important test in Jerez helped Espargaro and the KTM improve in their top speed, leaving him inside the top ten through the speed trap.
The KTM man admitted he felt bad for Rossi - who ended the opening day down in eighteenth, nearly a second off the pace – with the speed in which he caught and passed the factory Yamaha man on the straight.
“In Le Mans the bike was fast on the straight,” said the 28-year-old. “Maybe not for example like the Honda and Ducati, but better than Yamaha, which is nice.
“Today I overtook Valentino like he was stopped. I felt a little bit bad, because their bike is not super-fast in the straight, and our bike is going good on the straight, which I’m super-happy about.
“It’s what you need here, that the engine works.”
Espargaro was happy with his Friday performance, building on his sixth place in Le Mans last time out. The Spaniard is happy with his one lap pace, but now knows he has to do it over 23 laps come race day.
“I did a 1:46.966 for one lap, so we have to repeat that performance tomorrow and then race for 23 laps on Sunday,” he said.
“But if we’re not just as fast tomorrow, we will have to go into Q1 and not straight into Q2. We must not be too happy, too soon, because the times are very, very close together. We have to be in the top ten Saturday morning after FP3.”