Red Bull KTM riders lapped a damp and cool Jerez circuit in southern Spain to complete their second 2020 pre-season test this week and close a hectic third year of MotoGP action.
Less than a week after the initial run-out for 2020 MotoGP at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia both Red Bull KTM and Red Bull KTM Tech3 were both back on-track but further south in the Iberian Peninsula and around the curves of Jerez.
Throughout Monday and Tuesday looming clouds threatened poor weather conditions and although some good work and laps were achieved on the first day, the second was largely washed out due to the wet climate.
Pol Espargaro ploughed ahead with work on the 2020 configuration of the KTM RC16 and maintained a steady position in the top ten of the fastest times. The Spaniard tried a new aerodynamic package on Monday. Teammate Brad Binder took advantage of both the dry and wet state of the course to continue his acclimatisation to the MotoGP race bike. Fellow rookie Iker Lecuona suffered a crash on Monday but was also eager to circulate whenever possible to gather information. Test rider Dani Pedrosa missed Monday through illness but logged some mileage at Jerez on Tuesday.
2019 preparations for KTM’s fourth season in the premier class are now complete and MotoGP enters a testing ‘blackout’ during December and January until the engines are started again at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia in early February.
Pol Espargaro: “The last test of 2019 and we were not so lucky with the weather which mean we could not work as much as we wanted. Fortunately, we did some laps this morning when we felt quite good and we were just three tenths away from the top guy with ten laps on the tyre, which was important for consistency. Overall the pre-season has been very good. We did a lot and tested a lot of new stuff at Valencia and we have been fast. Now it’s time for the winter and after healing a little bit I will try to work harder than I did last year to try and come back in better shape. I’m already looking forward to trying the 2020 RC16 again in Malaysia.”
Brad Binder: “We decided to do a couple of laps when it was a little bit wet just to get the feeling of the new bike and that was really awesome. I'm glad I got a chance to experience that. It's been difficult these last two tests. It hasn’t been easy to adapt to the new bike but I think I've got a lot to think about now in the off-season and hopefully we can try to make a step in Sepang. I think I just need to improve my riding; my feeling with the front a little bit and just being able to have confidence to put the bike where I want to, especially on the entry to corners. I think once I get that right the rest will fall into place.”
Iker Lecuona: “It was my first time in wet conditions and to be honest it was quite strange. I need more laps but finally I went quite fast. I liked the feeling, although I didn’t find the limit in every point. I’m happy, but not too much with some sectors. For next year, I know I need to work on my riding, on the brakes and picking up the bike but finally in the wet it all went quite well and in general, I'm very happy.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “Our wish was for two full days of testing but we know at this time of year the weather can be difficult. Actually, we were still able to confirm a lot of things we tried in Valencia. Generally we are happy and we can send our riders into the winter break fit – which is very important – and the technical summaries we made were also good. Pol worked further on a 2020 direction and we saw today, especially in the wet, that Brad is starting to get the feel for the MotoGP bike. It was nice to see. Pol worked well and found positive points of the new material but we are still not at the point where we can say ‘everything is fixed’, we have to go to Sepang and work hard there but the important information has come across and we can plan for Malaysia and Qatar. We’ll go home and reload the batteries a little bit and then keep pushing for next February.”
Sebastian Risse, Technical Director MotoGP: “In Valencia we introduced next year’s package and we mainly focussed on this here with Pol and Dani in terms of the changes, the strong points and generally how it rates. We also had some more engine development going on with different specs, and we understood how this can work on different tracks and how it can be a universal package for next year. There were also some ‘aero’ ideas that were not ready for Valencia but we could try it here and we got some good data: we are going into the winter thinking about we will put it together. We’ll also need to think carefully about logistics because we will have four riders on factory bikes next year so it will be quite a challenge in the next month. We leave here quite happy even if the weather was not that great today and stopped us a little bit.”