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MotoGP Valencia: KTM chasing grip, engine 'backbone of the project'

"Engine performance is a standout point for us at the moment, it's probably been the backbone of the whole project"
KTM finished the opening day of its MotoGP debut at Valencia with test rider Mika Kallio 22nd and last on the timesheets, 3.111s from the top.

It was a bigger than expected deficit, which Kallio largely attributed to a lack of rear grip.

Crew chief Paul Trevathan, working with Kallio this weekend and Pol Espargaro next season, explained:

"It wasn't a point that we were so aware of, but it's clear when you are here with the other guys. [Kallio] says is a problem. And it's a tenth here, a tenth there. It's a point we really have to figure out and work on."

The New Zealander added that a solution is likely to come from mechanical rather than electronic performance.

"It's not actually the electronics side, it's more mechanical, and we have to figure out a way of getting around that in a short period of time.

"[Chassis, swingarm] that sort of thing. How to load the tyre in a different way and try to understand it. But again, it's something that we hadn't realised was a problem. We've been fine when we're [testing] by ourselves."

On the plus side, although Kallio was at the lower end of the speed charts - due to the lack of rear grip exiting the final corner - Trevathan described the RC16's V4 engine as the 'backbone' of the project due to its reliability and power delivery.

"Engine performance is a standout point for us at the moment, it's probably been the backbone of the whole project," he said. "We've been able to do a lot of laps, we haven't had a lot of big problems, and that's kept us on the track, and got us as close as we are now.

"I think engine management, purely because of the fantastic character that we have, it's made the electronics side even easier. And clearly with Mika out on the track, you can see this is not the point. Of course it can always be better, but it's nothing scary, this is a super positive part of the project."

What other areas do you need to work on?

"I think like everyone, we need to work on turning. We have many ideas, but we have to wait a little bit for the new boys [Bradley Smith and Espargaro], because our ideas may not be what they are thinking. So this will be super interesting for us [to hear their feedback], really make steps over winter and come out with some different ideas for next year."

Trevathan revealed that further new parts will be available for Smith and Espargaro in next week's test.

"We came here for a test a couple of weeks ago, and we brought a lot of stuff then. And we're using those parts now to try to make the best here [for Kallio's wild-card]," he said. "And then we have some more new stuff for when the new boys come."

KTM also revealed that Tom Jojic will be crew chief for Smith next season.

Kallio closed the gap to 2.514s from the top in Saturday morning's FP3 session, also cutting the top speed deficit from 10km/h to 7.6km/h.

By Peter McLaren





Tagged as: KTM

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