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MotoGP: Tech 3 pair playing catch-up in Austria

No test means Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith start on the back foot this weekend in Austria.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith head into this weekend's Austrian MotoGP with little experience of the Red Bull Ring, returning to the calendar for the first time since 1997.

Tech 3, like Repsol Honda, missed last month's private test - although Smith was later able to salvage some track time on a World Endurance-spec R1.

But Espargaro has been in much more glamorous R1 action during the summer break; successfully defending Yamaha's Suzuka 8 Hours title. But the Spaniard will be among the least prepared of the riders this weekend, having done no prior laps of the Austrian track.

"At last, the summer break is over and I can't wait to get back on my Yamaha as I want to continue my quest to complete the year as the top satellite MotoGP rider," said Espargaro. "It has been a busy few weeks for me because I flew to Japan for the Suzuka 8 Hours event after Sachsenring.

"Of course, I am delighted about my work there with Alex Lowes and Katsuyuki Nakasuga in the Factory Yamaha Racing Team, where we succeeded in winning the event for the second consecutive year. It was even more emotional than last year, as it was my final Suzuka race for Yamaha, but this performance has given me more determination to push harder on my M1 in MotoGP.

"The Spielberg track looks really fun to ride with its fast flowing nature and elevation changes. However, I think it will be very competitive GP due to the straights and no doubt, the Ducatis will have a slight advantage there. Nevertheless, we aim to give it everything we've got in order to leave this race with a good result. I am looking forward to the challenge."

Smith and Espargaro are both moving to the factory KTM next season - and will be out to impress their future employer, which will complete demo laps in front of the home fans this weekend.

While Pol is sixth in the world championship, Smith starts the second half of the season just 16th in the standings.

"This year has been tough at times, yet I am confident that I can turn it around, just like I did in 2014, and close my final year with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 in a positive way," he said.

"I am certain that our good fortune will start in Austria, even though I think it will be very tight in the race, I am highly motivated for the battle. I have done a lot of preparation for this track and with the fast flowing corners, it will be fun to ride on my M1. The GP will be long with 28 laps, but I am excited to sample the track on my MotoGP bike after sampling the layout on a Yamaha R1 recently."

Smith is rumoured to be entering the final round of the World Endurance Championship, for YART, on August 27.

Tagged as: Smith , Espargaro

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August 09, 2016 5:49 PM

TH: Does anyone know why they missed the test?
Don't know for sure...maybe Bradders and Pol were gearing up for other commitments - e.g. Pol at Suzuka, or maybe because they're both going to KTM next year... Hard to say with the Repsol team...

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