Tech3: Pol's KTM result 'big boost for everybody'

'To finish so close to the winner was definitely a very big boost for everybody involved in this program' – Herve Poncharal, Tech3 KTM.
Tech3: Pol's KTM result 'big boost for everybody'

The Red Bull KTM Tech3 team heads to this weekend's Italian MotoGP at Mugello on the back of their first double-points finish of the season.

Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira were classified 14th and 15th in France, while the 'incredible result' of factory KTM rider Pol Espargaro has provided a further 'big boost' ahead of this weekend.

Using a new engine and carbon fibre swingarm, Espargaro rode to sixth-place at Le Mans, just 5.9s behind race winner Marc Marquez (Honda), which is the closest an RC16 has ever been to the top.

"Mugello is a special place, the circuit is beautiful and the landscape in Tuscany is a unique area in the world and we enjoy being there, racing there," said Tech3 team manager Herve Poncharal.

"Going there we also cannot forget what Pol Espargaro and the KTM RC16 have achieved in the French Grand Prix, which was an incredible result for all of us and a big motivation, that is showing the whole team and mainly the riders what KTM can do and how hard KTM is working.

"Clearly, Pol was having some evolution in the chassis department and also in the engine department. These evolutions were obviously a step. The race he did was amazing and to finish so close to the winner was definitely a very big boost for everybody involved in this program."

All four KTMs scored points for the first time in France, Syahrin reducing the growing pressure on his shoulders with a debut top 15 as a KTM rider.

But while rookie Oliveira (eight points so far) has already been confirmed as remaining at Tech3 for 2020, Syahrin's seat - alongside the likes of Ducati riders Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci - is yet to be decided.

"This is a very important time of the championship; races are happening every two weeks. We know this is the moment where you have to score points to position yourself in a good manner in the ranking," Poncharal said.

"We also know, that the few seats available are gathering a lot of interest and the riders, who have these seats are under a lot of pressure, so this is clearly a key moment of the season and we hope we can be there, where people are expecting us.

"We would like to be, of course and as usual, closer to the front. We would also like to try to be closer to Pol Espargaro and carry on working.

"I think the fact that KTM has got four bikes and four different riders in the MotoGP class this year with different riding styles, has helped the development to speed up and has helped to test different and new directions, maybe to be more extreme in the way we are using the setting and the bike."

Syahrin, who finished twelfth at Mugello on Tech3's satellite Yamaha last season, wants to at least match the Le Mans result.

"I’m really looking forward to Mugello after a truly good weekend in Le Mans, which gave me even more motivation and made me believe more in myself and my team, because we keep working very hard and as a unit," said the Malaysian.

"We know, that we need to improve small things, which can help us to fight for better positions in the upcoming races. I can’t wait to arrive in Italy. I know, this is going to be tough, but we are curious to find out what is happening there.

"I hope I have a better feeling directly from FP1, which should bring me one step closer to the rest of the field and should help me to understand the general situation even better. I wish that we can score at least the same result as in the last round and for sure we will try to improve further.”

Oliveira - tied on points with fellow rookie Joan Mir, just one behind Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) and 17 from Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) - is a Mugello winner in both Moto3 (2015) and Moto2 (2018).

"Mugello is a very special track for me, because it was where I got my first win," said the Portuguese, who lost out to Syahrin at Le Mans due to a 1.5s post-race penalty.

"The layout is quite fantastic and challenging and at the same time, I feel motivated to go on and discover this track on my bike.

"I think it’s going to be one of those weekends where we have to work hard to improve the feeling coming back from France and to try to fight for our target, which is again finishing inside the points. So, I definitively look forward to go to Italy and start this fantastic Grand Prix.”