Pol quick, comfortable on KTM's carbon-fibre swingarm

'I’m riding comfortably on the limit and it gives you something else when you need it' - Pol Espargaro on KTM's new carbon-fibre MotoGP swingarm.
Pol quick, comfortable on KTM's carbon-fibre swingarm

Pol Espargaro gave KTM's new carbon-fibre swingarm a promising grand prix debut by featuring near the front on his way to the seventh fastest lap time (+0.495s) during Friday practice at the French MotoGP.

However it's not one-off flying laps where Espargaro feels the new swingarm offers the most advantage, but over longer runs on older rubber.

"We were testing it in Jerez on Wednesday because we did not want to show it so much on Monday [at the official test]," Espargaro said of the new part. "We had a good feeling with it, especially with a used tyre and you have seen how fast we can be with a medium tyre."

While the aggressive character of the KTM remains, the swingarm offers more 'comfort' on the limit and is also lighter than the previous aluminium version.

"The carbon is lighter. Not so much, but to lose this weight from my body is difficult!" he said. "On the bike it helps in different places, like the change of direction, so it’s better."

The composite "doesn't change the character of the bike and this is nice because I like the character of the bike. I’m riding comfortably on the limit and it gives you something else when you need it, like when the grip is not so nice… like today with the medium tyre.

"It stops the spin earlier and then when we pick-up the bike it is going a little bit faster on the back straight. It is not something very different but a small detail that helps give you a feeling you can push a bit more.

"It is like a cycle where everything improves, like the [lower] weight so then the change of direction [is easier] and you can turn it in a different way. It is not just the swingarm but because other parts are working well with the swingarm also.

"This is what we need. We know we normally don't have so much grip on the rear so we were looking for something to help us on the race weekend, especially in low grip and at the end of the race when is where you can make most time."

Espargaro fell twice during the afternoon, but said the second incident was "a technical problem after the first crash. I took the risk and something like that can happen."

Team-mate Johann Zarco also tried the swingarm during testing in Jerez, but didn't seem to feel a clear advantage and said he didn’t want to make the change during his home grand prix. The Frenchman was 17th quickest (1.146s) on Friday.

Ducati and Honda also currently use carbon fibre swingarms, with Aprilia experimenting with the technology last season.