Crashes for both Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira contributed to KTM's toughest MotoGP race of the season so far at Catalunya on Sunday.

Espargaro was battling Ducati's Danilo Petrucci for seventh place halfway through the grand prix when he lost control of his RC16 under braking, while Oliveira slipped out of ninth soon after.

"Not the result to be satisfied, for sure," said Espargaro. "We could not do so much today, even not crashing maybe our result would be in front of Petrux around seventh position, something like that.

"With these low temperatures we were missing a lot of the front confidence that we had during the weekend."

Part of the problem was that all four KTMs needed to use the medium front tyre, while the rest of the field - barring Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro - opted for the soft, due to the cool race temperature.

"Today the sun didn’t shine and we were the ones paying for it mostly because the temperature was lower and we needed to use this medium front tyre," Pol Espargaro explained.

"We have this problem that maybe Honda had last year, when they always were using harder compounds. So now it looks like compared to the other manufacturers, especially to Yamaha and Ducati, we always go to the harder compounds in front.

"Normally the sun would shine in the afternoon for the race and we will be not too bad, but because of these cold conditions with this medium tyre we were struggling. But the other option was to use the soft front and for sure for us the soft front was impossible to use. So it is what it is.

"We struggle when it’s too cold or when it’s very too hot."

Tech3's Oliveira also cited the medium front tyre and cold temperature as causing his downfall.

“It’s sad to end the race like this. We had very challenging conditions and expected to be competitive and for that we needed to use the medium front tyre," said the Red Bull Ring winner. "The temperature was quite low today, so it took me just one lap with no slipstream to cool down the tyre and when I went to the left side, there was no way I could save the crash. It’s a shame."

All of which left Espargaro's team-mate Brad Binder to finish as the leading KTM, in eleventh place, with fellow rookie Iker Lecuona 14th.

"We saw already earlier in the weekend that tyre choice would be super-difficult for us," said Red Bull KTM Race Manager Mike Leitner. "We would always find a solution in the afternoon when the temperatures were higher but race day was pretty cold on track and we knew it would be tough.

"Pol was doing well until he crashed but, overall, we cannot be happy with our overall results: it is the first time this season that we don’t have a rider in the top ten and we have to analyse why we could not find the performance we wanted."

As well as the low temperature, another problem highlighted by Espargaro was the general drop of grip following the Moto2 and Moto3 races.

"For sure with more front confidence, I could push more in the left corners. For example, I could not brake hard in corner five, so Petrucci was overtaking me there every lap," he said. "This was one of the two problems.

"The second one is every time we go on the race after Moto2, the Moto2 left Dunlop rubber on the track, the grip level is going down and then we struggle so much with it.

"We never have the feeling like in FP4. Always it's like we reset... More slippery, harder to stop the bike.

"The only times we didn’t feel it so much was in Austria and in Czech Republic. The places we were faster. It’s where we can predict what is going to happen or when we can copy what’s happening in FP4."

Despite two wins and four podiums by its riders so far this season, the top KTM competitor in the world championship standings is now Oliveira in ninth, 49-points from Fabio Quartararo.

Binder is tenth (-50 points), Espargaro twelfth (-51points) and Lecuona 18th (=91 points).

"This championship is going up and down so much it’s difficult to predict anything," said Espargaro, who has now had three DNFs this season. "From being third last weekend to crash here… Also Dovi crashed, so he lost the leadership of the championship. This championship is unpredictable.

"But it’s hard because we know losing points it’s super painful for the championship and we are keeping losing it. It’s difficult. I think never in my life I’ve been with so many zeroes in my championship in this short year of races.

"For sure I feel bad because we go to the top, to the bottom, and then top again and bottom again. It’s like someone is shaking us."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...