Pol Espargaro hit back at mutterings from some of KTM's rivals over their use of pre-race private MotoGP testing at Brno and the Red Bull Ring.

The Austrian factory claimed its first-ever MotoGP victory with Brad Binder last Sunday in the Czech Republic, when Espargaro was also on course for at least a podium until a clash with Johann Zarco.

Some, including world championship leader Fabio Quartararo, felt a previous private test at the track by KTM development rider Dani Pedrosa had given the factory a head-start on tyre information for the race weekend.

"Regarding tyres they the same for everyone and we get the same compounds as the other manufacturers," Espargaro said in Austria on Thursday. "Exactly the same as in the past when they were faster than us."

KTM and Aprilia are allowed extra private testing as part of the MotoGP Concessions package, available to manufacturers until they reach a cut-off number of 'podium points'.

"We have the concessions, we are allowed to test and we are taking profit of it. Aprilia also have those concessions and they are not using it. So what we have, we use. The rules are there," Espargaro said.

The Spaniard also felt that the KTM riders are not being given all the credit they deserve amid talk of the RC16, without a dry top-five before Brno, now being hailed by some as the 'best bike'.

"Our bike is amazing [but] it’s funny to hear all these things…. Maybe it is the riders also no? It means we are also doing a good job," Espargaro said.

"If it was just the bike then Yamaha was winning not Quartararo, Honda not Marquez. When someone else wins it is because they are very good and very fast and when it is the KTM then the bike is very good! It’s funny."

Espargaro again emphasised that there had been no huge step made by the RC16 for 2020.

"In pre-season we made some changes but not one where we said ‘wow!’ We worked a lot on the electronics and for sure we have an engine that is a little faster than last year, chassis that we were looking for some consistency but nothing crazy.

"We made steps on all the part of the bike and in the end it makes a big difference. I don’t know how the conditions in the Czech Republic were more on our side then for the others, but we will see in the next races and then at the end of the championship we will see our level.

"It is no sense to say that the KTM is now the best bike on the grid just because we did good last weekend. We need to show it every weekend and if we do that at the end of the year I would agree that our bike is a winning one, but we need to go slowly and see what is going on."

But if KTM's rivals were worried at Brno, they will be even more concerned for this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix, where not only Pedrosa but also Espargaro took part in a two-day private test at the end of May.

"I think the only people that know the way to go at this circuit at the moment is KTM, because they've tested," said Cal Crutchlow. "And they already have a great bike and a great rider and a big advantage from last weekend. So I expect them to be at the front in every session.

"And they were the only ones that were able to manage that tyre last week as well, honestly speaking. If you look all weekend really, the pace from Brad and Pol, they've found a way to be able to manage this tyre, this year, and it showed in the last race. So you have to worry about them for this weekend.

"As I said at the end of the last race, it's now for the [other] manufacturers and the teams to start matching their bike to the tyre."

However, Crutchlow firmly rejected the suggestion that KTM's pre-race private tests are unfair.

"Absolutely I think it's fair. I think that the rules of the championship are fair. If they blast everybody this week then we all won't say it's fair! But this is the reality. They've done a good job," said the LCR Honda rider.

"They also did the test before Brno, with Dani, so when they turn up at the race the first session they have a lot of data to be able to understand. And I bet they already understood that the drop of the tyre would be like this, this year.

"As I said to you last week, they've done a great job, the riders and the team have done a great job and I think it's going to make it more difficult for us this weekend here in Austria."

Meanwhile, Espargaro will be switching from KTM to Honda next season, joining six-time world champion Marc Marquez at the factory Repsol team. Does last Sunday's victory cause him to question whether it is the right move?

"I will tell you next year. I have no idea. Anyway, Marquez is not there and he is the top of the guys in Honda. It is difficult to say but I am happy that the KTM is working and next year is next year."

Free practice at what could be a wet Red Bull Ring weekend starts on Friday morning.

 

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