KTM found a number of positives at the Sepang test, despite Pol Espargaro missing the final day due to a horrible crash on day 2.
The Spanish rider crashed when braking at Turn 4 and hit the wall at over 250 km/h. Fortunately he escaped without serious injury, but he missed the final day as a precaution. After undergoing x-rays in Kuala Lumpar, Espargaro was given the all clear that nothing broke. He had pain from the crash and falling through the gravel trap, but no broken bones. The Spanish rider was in the pit box during day 3 to provide feedback, but did not ride.
Until that crash however, Espargaro had continued the development of the RC 16 bike as KTM prepare for their second season in MotoGP. In his absence, KTM test rider Mika Kallio took the place of Espargaro to continue the test schedule.
Busy final day for Smith
As a result of Espargaro missing out, team-mate Bradley Smith had a busy schedule on the third day. The Englishman declared himself happy with the outcome of the test. He was particularly pleased with how the bike performed when there was less grip on the track. This was a scenario in which they struggled during 2017 so a key area to improve.
Speaking to motogp.com, Smith said:
Day 1 and Day 2 seemed to go very well. Unfortunately with my teammate getting injured it meant I had to do all the work on Tuesday so it was a very busy day. So I had to sacrifice going for a lap time a little bit, and work more for the project. But I’m pleased with the first three days, we learned a lot and I got up to speed quickly, which made me happy. Tuesday was one of those tricky days where the track conditions weren’t quite as good, but I think in general we managed to get through most of the test program and we’ve done a good job for the engineers.
KTM will be hoping to confirm their findings when the paddock gather in Buriram, Thailand for the second pre-season test beginning on February 16th.