Pol Espargaro's new crew chief Paul Trevathan has likened the former Moto2 world champion to 'a can of popcorn' and feels the Catalan's enthusiasm and strength of character is what is required for KTM's nascent MotoGP project to succeed.
While Espargaro has only enjoyed two days aboard the RC16 to date, Trevathan has seen enough in his energetic approach that suggests he will lift those around him during the Austrian factory's debut season in the premier class.
“I saw the engineers walking around with a bit of a lighter foot after some of his comments,” said Trevathan, who was also impressed by the delivery of Espargaro's technical feedback, which was methodical and clear-sighted, at the Valencia test.
Espargaro was frustrated by Yamaha's unwillingness to allow him to test at Jerez in late November, a week after the Valencia shakedown. The 25-year old was nonetheless in attendance, spotting trackside for team-mate Bradley Smith and test rider Mika Kallio, while continuing to acquaint himself with his new crew.
“He's like a can of popcorn,” said Trevathan at Jerez. “For this type of project, this attitude is fantastic. There are going to dark days. There are going to be times when you need a character like that.
“If he can keep that then it will help everybody. I saw the engineers walking around with a bit of a lighter foot after some of his comments. He's a top rider.
“The feedback is what I had expected. Everyone has their own way of describing problems and my job is to decipher that and to try and put that into a point. What has become very obvious is that he is very clear and he thinks about one thing at a time.
“[He says,] 'I need this fixed', focuses on that point and then he goes onto the next. He's not a rider that, at every corner, he has a [different] problem, which is much harder to deal with. This is very positive.
“Personally I was disappointed that we didn't have Pol [riding at Jerez] because he helped massively with the electronics in the test [in Valencia]. He mainly focused on that and felt the turning issue wasn't a pure setting so we took his knowledge of the electronics and made big steps.
“It would have been nice to continue the path…but what we were able to do was to get Mika to ride more that package and we have learnt and taken it forward again.”
Trevathan worked alongside Kallio during the factory's end-of-season wildcard appearance in Valencia, which ended in a disappointing early retirement.
Although the Finn struggled with turning issues throughout the weekend, Trevathan is confident there is sufficient determination and willingness to work at the highest levels of the KTM company for this MotoGP project to make considerable strides in 2017.
“The passion of the company for racing is real and this is something that, when I came to KTM, you hear 'Ready to Race'…but when you are there you feel it. You also have Pit [Beirer – KTM's Motorsports Director] there. If you say 'Pit, we really need this. We really need it,' then he is able to pick up the phone and a decision is made there and then and we 'go'.
“There isn't a set of meetings or a board meeting to understand that. It is very clear and this is KTM's advantage. The whole company is behind it [MotoGP] 100% and that's why I'm sure we'll get there. Our development idea will really help.
“You also have to understand that KTM's 'library' if you like to MotoGP is zero so we have to fill the library up. All the chapters, we have to put together. It's not like you can go to the shelf and pull down something on 'chassis'.
“Of course, we have some experience but it's a massive learning curve and this is the fun part. I don't think we should get disappointed by a setback or by going the wrong way; sometimes going the wrong way is the fastest way to get something right. We have this freedom within the company to do it like this.”
Pol Espargaro ended the Valencia test a heartening 17th fastest, with a time that was just 1.8s off Maverick Viñales' best lap.
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