KTM will head for the start of the European season having scored eight points from the opening flyaway rounds of the 2018 MotoGP campaign.

That is five points more that at the same stage of their rookie season, but the RC16 has been over 30-seconds from the winner in Qatar, Argentina and Austin.

Pol Espargaro took 13th place in Sunday's COTA race, which he began from 15th on the grid due to a post-qualifying penalty for obstructing another rider.

The Spaniard felt he salvaged as much as possible from the race and is looking forward to more familiar circuits.

“It was hard to change direction and hold these big bikes here! Each corner is hard but I think we did a good race and had a good weekend overall," he said.

"Maybe we could have improved the setting a bit more because we were quite far from the others and this means we were ‘different’ and making some mistakes; I think we paid for that front tyre in the race.

"Overall I think we must be happy, we can take these three points and go back to Europe with more experience.

"I’m happy to go to Jerez because for these three races outside of Europe we don't have that much info or data and it’s tough.

"We’ll go back and we’ll have Mika [Kallio] there to help us.”

While Espargaro was one of only three riders on the soft front tyre, Smith went with the medium and was briefly holding a top ten spot until the 'gamble' backfired.

The Englishman faded to 16th at the chequered flag.

“It was a good weekend and I felt like I had some pace especially in the beginning where I made up three positions and was fighting with Jorge [Lorenzo]," Smith said.

"We took a gamble: Pol went with the soft front tyre and I went with the medium and with these temperatures I thought it would work but it just went off and there was nothing I could do.

"I held in there until lap twelve and then it was understeering everywhere. I knew it might happen…but was hoping it didn't!

"This is all part of the learning experience and figuring out what works with this motorcycle and how to improve.

"It is a bit frustrating to come away without any points but things were looking up this weekend so we have to be happy with that.”

Team manager Mike Leitner said: “To be fair this track is already difficult for other manufacturers that have been in this business for a long time and it was hard for us last year.

"It is a long, hard and bumpy layout. You need a very balanced bike to make a fast and stable lap time and somehow we managed to give Pol something to take 13th position and we should be happy with these points.

"We’ll head back to Europe now and look to keep on improving.”

Espargaro is currently 14th in the riders' championship, Smith yet to score and KTM sixth and last in the constructors' standings.

It is rumoured that KTM has secured the services of satellite star Johann Zarco for 2019.

 

 

 

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