Pol Espargaro has explained his reasoning behind a move to KTM's new MotoGP project in 2017, and cited the Austrian factory's success in all forms of two-wheel sport as a reason to believe he can match his ambitions of finishing closer to the front in the premier class.
The Catalan used the pre-event press conference to announce that he would be swapping Tech 3 Yamaha colours for KTM at the end of the current year, and soon after he stated that having a an entire factory working behind you would signify the best chance to compete with MotoGP's leading lights.
“Life is for the adventures and for the ones who trust in something that is not working. It's a matter of spirit, winning spirit,” said the 24-year old. “For sure it's more comfortable to stay where I am but I have a spirit that says, 'You have to win and catch the front guys because you can.'
“I did it in 125s. I did it in Moto2. The guys that I was fighting and beating some times, now they're beating me by 20 seconds. At the end I want to show that I can do it. The best way is to go to a factory bike. We'll see if it's good or bad but we don't know.
“Firstly the other offers I thought weren't as good as this one. It's also a factory bike and I will have the full support of a factory. It's one that is winning everything in dirt, everything in Moto3.
“Everything they do, they do amazing. For sure it's going to be hard to arrive in the top ten. They show that they have intelligent people working for them. I trust in them and we will see.
“The people are working for you. They'll give you their skin and their life to see you winning. They do everything for. In Tech 3, all the guys give me the best they have. But sometimes this is not enough. We need something more and the factory, they have this something else and we are fighting for small details, which are so important at the end of the race.
“They are intelligent. I spoke with Bradley and he told me that when he arrived in the factory in Austria, he looked really small. Physically and psychologically. He said you look at the people they seem so intelligent. OK, he didn't try the bike but when you see a team like that you trust them. All of them are working for me and this is huge.”
On expectations for 2017, he added, “Without doubt it will be difficult, for sure. It was difficult for Suzuki. They were already some years here and when they come back they struggle so much with the engine and the power. But nothing is easy in this life. Even less so in MotoGP. If we want something we have to fight for it.”
Espargaro will join current team-mate Bradley Smith in the KTM squad next year, a rider with whom he won the Suzuka 8-Hour in 2015. It was this success, aboard Yamaha's R1, that underlined the ability of Espargaro and Smith to develop a winning package.
“Definitely it will be much better because we know each other. We have a good relationship. In a team, when one team-mate is good and another is bad, you don't care. But when both riders are slow and you have a bad relationship you can't improve.
“With Bradley we have a good relationship. We develop an amazing bike in Suzuka in two or three days of test. Then we won the Suzuka 8-Hours by some distance. It means we are able to develop a bike like we did in Suzuka. We have two very different styles but we can get a good bike and we will try to do the same with KTM.”
Asked what he expected to be the biggest challenge for KTM's new machine, Espargaro believes the unique tubular frame – unique to the MotoGP class – to require the greatest level of development.
“We need to check if the tubular chassis works. The engine, sooner or later, you improve. We saw that Maverick and Suzuki are faster than us now on the straight. If the tubular chassis is not working we will struggle so much. I prefer a slow bike that is good in the corners than a fast bike on the straight and impossible to manage.
“I think it [the chassis] will be harder than we are used to do with Yamaha. It's a different system. I think that we are young and we didn't try many bikes. We will see. I think these tubular chassis is difficult to put in a good setting but it has much more settings than normal chassis.”