Pol Espargaro praised the rapid progress of his KTM team after yet another fine showing at Silverstone on Friday, when the Catalan placed seventh on the FP2 time sheets and demonstrated an eye-catching pace.

Shrugging off the disappointment of a retirement from the Austrian Grand Prix, Espargaro was quick on hard tyres in the afternoon session under the English sun, and sat less than one second off pace setter Cal Crutchlow’s quickest time at the end of FP2.

Along with his speed, Espargaro was more than content with the window in which KTM’s technicians dialled in the RC16’s electronics. At the beginning of the winter, it had taken more than one full day of testing. Here at Silverstone, the 45-minute FP1 was sufficient – a real sign of progress.

“Definitely it was one of the best days we had with KTM,” he said. “This track is quite tricky. I’m super-happy because in one morning we were able to set up the electronics in a very good way. Then in the afternoon the electronics were quite fixed.

“Also, this track the riding style [needed] is quite tricky, because of the bumps. We saw Marquez crash. With these bumps it’s not easy. You need to understand them. The first day, the rider has more importance than the bike, but when the rider goes to set up the bike in FP4, everything is going to change.

“For sure we’ve done a good job because this track is tricky with all the bumps, a lot of changes of direction. It requests a lot from the riders. It’s a kind of track that needs to have a very good bike set-up. If the bike is not set up the rider needs to do an extra. We face a good situation.

“In the first run our electronics were not really good and I knew we could improve quite a lot. The bike is getting better the last races. What’s good is that it’s not just a track that’s good for us. We’re going to different tracks and the bike is keeping the pace. This is super important.”

Asked if he was surprised by the final lap time, Espargaro replied, “I was surprised with this hard compound because I knew I could improve a lot but not as much with the hard. When I changed to the hard I improved to third. I knew I could be this fast, but with the soft, not the hard. It’s really interesting because we always need to think about he race. The hard is going to stay for very long. Honestly, I’m happy because the hard works really well.

“It happened also in Austria, when the hard is not as hard as you think. We’re discovering that on the first day we have to try all the tyres. It’s quite strange, the feeling we’re having with the tyres on the rear. This is also making a big change in the standings with the factories and the satellites. This helps the factories that are just starting, like us, or the satellites.”

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