Pol Espargaro has one of the most extreme cornering styles in MotoGP and is 'hanging out' more than ever after switching to KTM.

Espargaro, team-mate Bradley Smith and test rider Mika Kallio all agree that one of the RC16's main issues is a lack of turning, sending the Spaniard further 'outside the bike'.

"My riding style was always to be outside the motorbike with Yamaha, but now it's much more. I needed to increase that because the bike is turning less, so I have to force the bike to turn," Espargaro said.

"So until we improve this problem I will need to make a lot of force and physically it's more tiring to ride this bike than Yamaha. But it's like this. I'm trying to adapt also. It's not just the bike, every time I go on track I learn a little bit more about my riding style and the limits with this bike.

"It's a compromise between rider and bike, we need each other."

"All three riders are working on [turning]," Smith said. "It's even more noticeable at Sachsenring because of the tight twisty nature of the racetrack. It's a focus point on our list and we'll continue to try and figure out what we need from the motorcycle to do it.

"It's difficult to pinpoint," the Englishman added. "Grip seems to help us, when we have a new tyre. A corner is a combination of all things and to be honest, in my opinion, it is a little bit everywhere. It's not going to be 'oh yeah, if we fix this one thing it's job done'. But all three riders have turning at the top of their priority list."

Despite the turning issues, KTM came close to getting all three riders in the points at the Sachsenring with Espargaro 13th, Smith 14th and wild-card Kallio missing out on 15th by just 0.081s to Jack Miller.

"We didn't expect to be so competitive here, because we are turning all the time and we need to hang a lot off the bike. So it was a nice surprise," Kallio confirmed. "We are getting step-by-step better but, basically like I think Pol and Bradley are saying, we are struggling a little too much for turning and this is our weak point at the moment.

"That's why also I think when we go to Austria [Kallio's next wild-card] it will be a good track for us because we are good on the brakes, there are not too many corners and they are all quite slow."

The Finn feels a solution will come from chassis development: "Definitely the biggest issue is the frame side and we need to find something better for turning. I believe quite soon we will have some update on the frame side."

Espargaro has scored points in four of KTM's opening nine races in MotoGP, including the team's best-yet finish of eleventh at Assen. Reflecting on the opening half of the season, the former Moto2 champion declared:

"We've had good moments in places like Le Mans, bad moments in other places but this is normal with a new project. Starting from zero. We have a lot of work in front, but we know how to improve the bike and it's only the beginning for us.

"We have to be really proud of what we are doing and we need to keep pushing and keep improving. We are taking points in normal conditions now, finishing ahead of half of the grid and this is what matters."

Giving his verdict, Smith - also in the points on four occasions, with a best of 13th, despite missing Catalunya through injury - feels he needs to experiment less during grand prix weekends.

"It started great and then the last few races we've tried to kind of find a new direction, try and see how to improve the motorcycle. I always enjoy that part of it and probably embraced it a little bit more than I should of!" he said.

"Sometimes it's better off just to ride what you know is working. But this weekend [in Germany] I decided, after Assen, to back to what I know and race a normal motorcycle and it paid off in the results.

"So although we want to move the project forward, sometimes actually getting the results and points is the most important thing. It's nice to be testing while you are racing, but sometimes you just have to race.

"But generally I'm really happy. That's my fourth point-scoring finish in [eight] races. If we can battle for those kind of results week-in, week-out in part two of the season that'd be awesome."

Espargaro, while outlining the scale of the changes made to the RC16 since he first rode it last November, believes the top ten is a realistic target by the end of this year.

"I was talking with Mike Leitner after the race, just chatting, and we were saying how much it has changed," replied Espargaro. "The bike is super different in the way it looks and the way it works.

"If we keep this progression going then by Valencia this year it will be completely different and we can be fighting in the top ten."

By Peter McLaren

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