KTM's eye-catching start to the 2020 MotoGP season continued during Friday practice for the Andalucia Grand Prix, with rookie Brad Binder third on the timesheets and team-mate Pol Espargaro 'fastest with used tyres'.

Like most riders, both set their best times of the day during the cooler morning conditions but were also more than happy with their race pace in the afternoon heat.

"The plan was to do a time attack at the end of FP1 and to work on our pace and setting for the race in FP2. That’s exactly what we did. I’m happy because it seems we have figured out a good base setting. To be third fastest on day one is fantastic," said Binder, who set a pace good enough for second as he recovered to 13th after running of track in last Sunday's race.

"We had a little bit of an up-and-down FP2 in terms of trying things, but we still managed to put a competitive session together and I stuck out there with old tyres the whole session, which was great. To be 11th is not bad considering."

The South African added: "For sure it is a little bit of a shock to be so close to the front when we do a time attack. It’s incredible to see and I think KTM have brought a very competitive machine this year."

Binder feels the RC16's biggest strengths are braking and corner entry, while he still needs to find the 'sweet spot' to squeeze a bit more from corner exit.

"I’ve got the opportunity to ride behind almost every manufacturer so far and all the different riders too. The main point where I feel we are quite strong is definitely on the brakes: corner entry and braking is where our bike is fantastic," he said. "I do lose a bit on corner exit but that’s down to me not quite doing the pick-up as well as I should yet.

"If you have the bike too upright you have too much wheelie and if you have too much lean angle you spin, so you need to try and find that sweet spot and to stick to it as long as possible.

"That’s one thing that’s difficult because there is one point where it wheelies too much and another where it spins too much. You gotta find that sweet spot and that’s what the others are good at, especially the ones with a lot of experience."

Nonetheless, all the signs suggest Binder is taking strides forward.

"This morning we were third quickest, whereas I was tenth last week. I did the same lap time in FP2 now as I did last week but I didn’t put in new tyres. I believe our pace is better and I am faster than I was at this point last week. In general the bike is also feeling better," he said.

"I want to take it one day at a time and one lap at a time. If I can make it into Q2 tomorrow that would be fantastic and it is definitely my goal for tomorrow. But if not it is not the end of the world. I’ll just have to readjust a little bit and give it another go in the race."

Espargaro, who finished sixth and within reach of the podium in last Sunday's race, was equally delighted with his day.

"In the afternoon we were the fastest with a used tyre. That '37.8 was amazing to do with 17 laps on the tyre. It was almost like the end of a race and we were the fastest in the hot conditions. So I’m surprised about what we have done today," said Espargaro.

"In the morning I had some traffic and [still] managed fifth overall with not a good lap. In the afternoon, as I said, we are the first with used tyres. This was amazing.

"If the race was tomorrow I think we would be very ready, very prepared to fight against the others guys, it doesn’t matter the name of the other factory.

"If we can start well and go with the top guys maybe we can do something big in the race. I’m looking forward to it. It will be a risky race because we need to push a lot. We have nothing to lose.

"For sure I would like to be in the first three by the end of the year. But it will be difficult so when we have the chance to do something big I will take the risk to get a good result. We will see. At least it will make it fun [for people watching]!"

Tech3 KTM riders Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona were sixth and twelfth fastest overall.

Espargaro will join Repsol Honda alongside Marc Marquez next season.

 

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