On the podium for the fifth time this season, Pol Espargaró was ecstatic at the finish of the Valencia Grand Prix. Forgotten the tense period he experienced during the summer, when he saw what he thought to be chances of success escaping him that would not come again: the Spanish rider is now savoring the end of his adventure with KTM by collecting the rewards after four years of hard work.
“Nine races and five podiums, it seems unreal!” he admitted after the race. “We were hoping for a top 5 this weekend, and we are on the podium, the fifth of the season after taking pole position. It’s amazing how much effort is paying off in these last races of the season. I am really proud of this project, of these people and of the work we have done. “
Already third in the first race weekend in Valencia, Espargaró felt that the other manufacturers would easily catch up, he who had optimized a limited running time in the dry and benefited from the tests recently carried out on site by Dani Pedrosa. And finally, the performance was indeed there a week later, even if it was no longer preceded by the two Suzuki but this time by a Yamaha and a Ducati.
“I really have the impression that we are dreaming, after four years of such difficult work. To achieve this is just unreal, we feel very proud, and especially in these back-to-back races where everyone can get the best out of their package and their bike. The riders know the track in different conditions and everyone is absolutely at the limit. So getting our best results in these back-to-back races is super important to us , because beyond the fact that we have a good package, it means that we work well and that we do good things. I am therefore very proud of what we achieve. “
Thanks to his result, and also taking into account the fall of Takaaki Nakagami who was trying to steal third place, Pol Espargaró will approach the last Grand Prix of the season this week with real claim to the championship. He occupies seventh place, now with 17 points ahead of the Japanese and no longer one, and ten points of margin over Jack Miller, who is inserted between them. And it is also interesting in front of him, since the KTM rider is only five points behind the fourth classified (Maverick Viñales) and 16 on the top 3!
“There is still one race, in Portimão, where nobody really knows what will happen. We have a good position in the championship, not far from the leaders, and not far from Jack, against whom we will have to fight again. “, he observes, hoping one last time to be able to count on the teamwork carried out at KTM …
… And, with this in mind, Espargaró observes with a very good eye the presence in the group of the only Portuguese driver on the field, Miguel Oliveira! “The good thing about Portimão is that, at KTM, we have Miguel who will be at home and who will be strong from FP1. He has done a lot of laps there and he knows the track well. Even though it has been resurfaced it has been doing a lot of laps there so he will be strong from day one and we can collect data of his riding style and I will be carefully watching what he does. to get a good position, and to try to secure this place that we occupy in the championship and which is very good. It’s clearly what KTM has done best, which makes me very proud. “
Watch out for Binder next year
The other stake of the Grand Prix of Portugal will concern the constructors and teams championships. In the first city, KTM can still claim third place, currently occupied by Yamaha with 13 points ahead. And in the second, the official Mattighofen team remains mathematically in contention for second place, provided the race turns into disaster for Petronas. More likely, she will try to defend the third position just taken in Ducati, having achieved Sunday her best harvest of points thanks to a double top 5 offered by Espargaró and his teammate. Brad Binder.
“I also feel super proud to see my teammate, Brad, who is a super talented young guy, perform well on the bike”, stressed the Spaniard to the official MotoGP website, “and the team occupy this position in the championship, the plant achieve success after the tireless work put in the past four years. I’m glad for the people involved in this project, they deserve it.”
Particularly aware of the potential of an RC16 that we have seen twice in pole position this year and especially seven times on the podium, including two on the top step, a machine that he has greatly contributed to bringing to his level current, Pol Espargaró is already anticipating a 2021 season where the Austrian clan will be formidable, while he will move to the HRC.
“The [Honda] is performing well, I don’t know which bike Taka uses and which bike the official team uses, but it’s something I’ll find out next year during the preseason. I will try to give it my all, but I am 100% sure that Brad in particular, knowing that he has shown incredible performance in some races this year, will be one of the tough riders to beat next year with this bike. , which will clearly be even better. I hope there will be a good fight between me and KTM next year. If we fight for the victory, it will be incredible, I will love it! “