Red Bull KTM #motogp Factory #racing Team made clear gains in their efforts during the first two days of action at the #misanoworldcircuit Marco Simoncelli with #polespargaro returning to the fray on the KTM RC16 and further testing of new parts and ideas. #bradleysmith and Espargaro took 17th and 20th positions on the grid for the thirteenth #motogp of 2018 tomorrow. Turkish talent Can Öncü won the 2018 Red Bull #motogp Rookies Cup by taking the victory at #misano and with two more races to go.
After the false start of the rain-hit British Grand Prix, #motogp moved to warmer climes on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and for the second visit to the Italian mainland this season. The Grand Prix di #sanmarino e Della Riviera di Rimini was unsettled by some heavy stormy showers on Friday evening that left the track in mixed conditions for Free Practice 3 this morning: #bradleysmith hit the floor in the damp while pushing for a fast lap in the final minutes.
A drier FP4 led straight into Q1 for the Red Bull KTM crew. #polespargaro was back in the saddle of his #44 racebike after making a recovery from the collarbone injury and other complaints but was still not 100% fit and was struggling to get comfortable to push for rapid lap-times. Pol managed the 20th quickest chrono effort. Smith meanwhile continued to work with the latest set of ideas and modifications for the KTM RC16 and sat 17th at the end of Q1 with an improvement of 1.5 seconds compared to last year!
Smith: “We made a good step from yesterday – 0.8 on the best lap-time and another 0.5 for (race) pace – so for that I’m pleased. If we look at last year then we can say this is a ‘weak’ track for us so we actually turned it around to be a normal weekend, and this bodes well for the race. I’m still undecided about tyre choice. It will depend on the temperatures and we cannot foresee how the track will be after Moto2 but we know from previous races it is a bit of a struggle going after them. We’re busy in the pitbox and we are learning as we go. It is not easy to bring new ideas to a racetrack at the weekend so we are doing well. It is exciting going into the second half of the season and the remaining races and we can keep on climbing to the top.”
Espargaro: “It took me a while to find the feeling again and even make the same movements on the bike because of my collarbone so it has been tough. I don’t think I am even 70% in race condition because of my body position for braking and the left corners. Still, I’m improving every day and my position on the track and bike is getting a bit better. I don't know what I can do tomorrow in the race; if I can follow someone then this will already be good. I don’t want to make excuses but I’m glad we can go faster than last year and with a different bike.”
Sebastian Risse (Technical Director MotoGP): “We had a test recently and we are trying to implement some changes and modifications into the bike before the overseas races to have a stable situation with regards to the logistics and the components we are using. We will try to introduce some into the race but of course the situation was difficult with Pol coming back from injury and generally this track is also tricky for us. In the end I think we can be quite happy with where we are: it’s not great but it is not a disaster. It is definitely an improvement over last year. We’ll see how we get-on over the race distance tomorrow and tyre choice will key: let’s see who does it best.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder sits 5th on the Moto2 grid and is just half a second away from the Pole Position set by Francesco Bagnaia. The Italian’s title rival – and Binder’s teammate – Miguel Oliveira holds 9th place on his KTM Moto2 bike.
Binder: "Things hadn't gone as we wanted before my last lap, because I hadn't managed to set a fast enough time, but I took a lot of risks and luckily things went well right at the end. I still want to improve my feeling on the bike. We have to work on our race pace, so tomorrow in the warmup we will try to find something that will help us to be more prepared. I start every race thinking that I can get onto the podium, so let's see what happens this Sunday."
Oliveira: "It was a bit of a strange qualifying session, as we knew it was important to set a fast lap as early as possible. I wasn't able to put in an ideal lap; I struggled to string all of the sectors together and in the end we finished ninth. I would have liked to have been a little higher up on the grid, although we were less than a tenth off fifth. It's a shame not to have been able to get there. I am relaxed ahead of the race, and I know that if we get a good start we can be in the fight for the podium. It's also a challenge for us to keep in the fight for the title, so we will not let the opportunity to cut the gap in the championship get away from us."
In Moto3 RBA Boe Skull Rider’s Gabriel Rodrigo built on his positive showing at #misano by taking 2nd place in Qualifying Practice with his KTM RC250 GP. Series leader and local hope Marco Bezzecchi was also in the top ten (6th) and just ahead of countryman Nicolo Bulega.
Red Bull #motogp Rookies Cup
The Öncü brothers did the leading and the winning at #misano with Can Öncü taking victory and the Red Bull #motogp Rookies Cup for 2018. The 15-year-old Turks had to fight all the way with seven other KTM RC 250 RBs and while Deniz Öncü did most of the leading, a tiny error at the end left him crossing the line a furious eighth. Filip Salač, the 15-year-old Czech, took a super-close second ahead of Spanish 15-year-old Adrián Carrasco. For most of the race Can was not in a Cup winning position, with 50 points still on offer at the final round in Aragon he needed a decent finish as his brother and arch rival Deniz was heading the field. At one point Deniz managed to break away by almost a second but that lasted less than a lap with Salač leading Can and the rest back onto his tail.
C. Öncü: “I can't believe what a perfect day this is. To win the Cup by winning the race is perfect. It was such a tough race. Early on I was not so comfortable, I felt that the grip was not as good as yesterday and my front suspension was not perfect. So I calmed myself down and started to understand the situation. I realised that the others were not getting away but they were #racing so hard that they were using up their tyres. So I waited for the right time to push. Then I went for it. It was still a tough race but I managed to slipstream past Salač and win. It worked perfectly. A huge thanks to all the #people who work so hard to make the Cup work and to those who support us.”
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