Pol Espargaro thinks future team-mate Johann Zarco will be 'fast from his first day' on the KTM at November's post-season Valencia test.

Zarco will be joining KTM after some spectacular performances at Tech3 Yamaha, the same team Espargaro rode for before signing up to start KTM's MotoGP adventure alongside Bradley Smith.

Now in the early stages of its second full season, the RC16 has undergone substantial modifications in almost every area. That process has naturally brought the Austrian bike closer in character to the established MotoGP frontrunners.

"It's becoming a better bike and for sure the Yamaha is a good bike. Honda, Suzuki, Ducati as well," said Espargaro. "I think KTM is approaching these big factories because when we have more experience the bike is changing.

"I think it's a normal progression of a MotoGP bike. With more time we're going to be nearer to one [manufacturer] or another. But this is what it must be, because nobody is going to use something very, very different in MotoGP."



Espargaro feels that the KTM currently responds to a wide range of riding styles, but expects that to change as the machine gets more refined.

"The KTM is a bike that you need to ride aggressive, hard, but that doesn’t mean if you ride smooth you cannot make a lap time," he said. "I mean Bradley and Mika are much smoother than me and they are fast as well.

"So I think right now we are still discovering the character of this bike and developing the bike in a lot of areas - in areas for Bradley and my areas - to try to make a wide riding style and not just one very narrow style.

"For sure, when the bike is faster and faster the character is going to be more hard and we will need to ride as the bike demands. But right now I think it's quite open, quite wide.

"So for the riders coming next year, I think you can ride this bike in all the styles."

The new riders already confirmed as coming to KTM next year will be Zarco (factory) and Miguel Oliveira (Tech3), with the other seat still to be announced at Tech3.

Espargaro is certain that Zarco have an easier time moving from Tech3 to KTM then when he made the jump.

"That's for sure!" Espargaro smiled. "The bike is much, much better now than when we started I promise you! But like I said this is normal [development].

"Zarco has an amazing talent, he will adapt really fast and he is going to be fast from the first day with KTM at Valencia.

"I think the [way] of riding this bike is quite 'wide' now and it's not going to be a problem for him."

Espargaro arrives at Le Mans after two days of post-race testing at Jerez, where he put further laps on the 2019 prototype - used with success by Mika Kallio as a wild-card at the Spanish GP - but also new parts for the 2018 bike that will continue to be raced for at least the first half of this season.

"We tried everything, including the bike we are going to use in the next races because we have a lot to test and a lot of new pieces," Espargaro said. "It was important to improve the whole package.

"I'm quite happy. The bike feels better. For sure we had different pieces, different stuff as always. Some worked, some not. We are in a good shape coming here to Le Mans and all the team is happy with how everything went in Jerez."

The good grip level of the Le Mans asphalt should also help.

"We are struggling a little on the turning, so the grip gives us some help with that. But as soon as we lose the grip we cannot use this to turn the bike. So for sure more grip helps us - we are still in more-or-less the same positions but closer in lap time - but it also helps the others a bit as well."


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