KTM considering 'big bang' at Jerez

"The difference is obvious and if we try it you will hear it"
Espargaro, Pol, MotoGP, Grand Prix of the Americas, 2017.
Espargaro, Pol, MotoGP, Grand Prix of the Americas, 2017.
© Gold and Goose

KTM riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro could use their 'new engine configuration' at this weekend's Spanish MotoGP.

The pair both briefly tried the powerplant in Tuesday's private test at Le Mans and a decision will be taken tonight regarding its use in the grand prix event.

Although nether rider would reveal exactly what 'new configuration' means, it is understood that KTM has joined the other five manufacturers in switching from an even-firing 'screamer' to an uneven 'big bang' firing order.

"The difference is obvious and if we try it you will hear it," smiled Espargaro.

Will you miss the sound of screamer?

"If the lap time is faster with the other one, I don't care!" replied the Spaniard. "I'm just a rider. I'm going to ride the best thing for the bike. If it's a big bang, the big bang. If it's a screamer, the screamer. If it's another one, another one. My job is riding the bike and not asking any more."

Espargaro, Smith and test rider Mika Kallio all got some time on the engine at Le Mans.

"All three of us got a chance to ride it at some point during the day. We've brought it here, but we don't necessarily know it we'll run it. It's still for the engineers to decide what they want," Smith said.

"Whether it's better or worse at the moment is still under investigation because Le Mans in not ideal [weather] conditions is probably not the best place to say 'yes that's definite'. But we have a chance to reconfirm here and we want to try it during the race weekend against the other guys out on track."

The Englishman described the engine as 'quite different' to the design used in the opening three rounds, and with which KTM took its first points in Argentina, but was reluctant to call it 'softer'.

"The idea is to make it more manageable, get more speed out of the corners and look after the tyres more. We clearly found some benefits but some negatives as well, so we'll keep on playing with that," Smith said.

"In terms of driveability I would say maybe a step in the right direction. [it] doesn't give us more acceleration, so that's why it's down to the engineers to kind of weigh up the negatives and positives."

Espargaro also described the new engine as 'so different', although the fact he and Smith raced the Yamaha (big bang) in recent seasons meant the character was more of a shock for Kallio.

"For Mika it was a little bit of a shock because it was so different," Espargaro said. "Also for us, but we are used to ride more other bikes, the last years we've been at Yamaha and we know different characters of the engines."

Honda, which made the 'big bang' switch over the winter, spent much of pre-season testing trying to dial-in the electronics, an issue KTM also face.

"In Le Mans the electronics were not adjusted. So even if the engine is better we cannot know now, because it was so young and we need to progress, we need to use it, make the guys understand a little bit more this engine," said Espargaro.

"The guys took a plane at 3am yesterday to come here after the test at Le Mans and since they arrived here they were working on the electronics to understand this engine a little bit more.

"This engine had never been tested, so if we try it [this weekend], it will mean that the guys have done a very good job and think we can use it. We have a meeting at the end of today and we will see.

"For sure if it is more positive than negative, we are going to use it.

"We are not playing for the championship or even the top ten right now. Even if in the future we need to use a new engine and start from last. We don't care.

"KTM and Red Bull are making a big effort to bring these new pieces for us and if, we the riders, need to do some sacrifice [by starting last] we are going to do it. It's clear that everything that's going to be better on the bike, we are going to use, but we need to know if it's better."

By Peter McLaren

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