Pol Espargaro has admitted that checking the progress of KTM's new MotoGP machine will be among his top priorities this weekend as the Austria factory rolls out the RC16 machine for the final race at Valencia.
Mika Kallio is set to wildcard this weekend as KTM makes a first appearance in the premier class in any form since 2005. Along with current team-mate Bradley Smith, Espargaro will join the factory for 2017.
After three years in the Tech 3 Yamaha fold, Espargaro is preparing to sample the new bike for the first time on Tuesday at the first test of the preseason.
“I will be looking at the screens, especially when I stop in the box in FP1,” said Espargaro on Thursday. “I want to see because Kallio is a good rider. For sure, when you're not in the MotoGP world every race, I think you lose a little bit of speed. Still, he's fast and a sensitive rider. I want to see what he's able to do with the KTM. I will be looking.
“With the factories in the paddock, I don't know how they work. I spent some time with KTM in Austria and they look like family. They're a factory team but they're Europeans.
“We think and do things the same. Not like the Japanese, who have a different style of work. With KTM I feel there is a good atmosphere already.”
The younger Espargaro admitted his final weekend in Monster Tech 3 colours will be 'emotional' and signing off with a strong result remains his top priority.
“It's emotional for sure. After three years, here you don't share just a job. You're sharing a passion and emotion every weekend. We're sharing a lot of personal things. We're like a family. We have shared a lot during these years. It's sad to go in our different ways. Life is like this.”
Asked whether his three years competing aboard Yamaha's M1 have gone as expected, Espargaro added, “The first year, yeah. The second year I was blocked and the third I was blocked more.
“I want to be with the top guys I was fighting in Moto2. I think I can fight with them. When Iannone was at Pramac I beat him a lot. In his third year he goes to the factory team and he completely destroyed me. Last year I was ahead of my brother and Maverick. This year they're smashing me also.
“I expect a little better. But you need the opportunity. We didn't have this really. I'm doing this move so I have this opportunity in the next few years, like Marc and Iannone had. I want this opportunity also. The aim is to be with them.
“For sure they [Yamaha] could give me more. But in Tech 3 no. For sure they could give me more. Always, they can give you more. In the end it was like this. I'm not complaining. They gave sixth in my first year in MotoGP, fourth in my fourth race.
“I showed I had the speed. I feel like I've been blocked. This is a pit. I want to say thanks to Yamaha. In the end it was the only brand that trusted me in the beginning. They gave me the opportunity. You have to be happy and I'm grateful to them.”