Press Release

June 26, 2017


As the half way point of 2017 season approaches, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team took their best ever MotoGP finish today in Assen, Holland with Spaniard Pol Espargaro clinching 11th place while Bradley Smith crashed out at halfway mark of the race. Miguel Oliveira finished fourth in Moto2 to keep same postion in the championship standings, his team-mate at Red Bull KTM Ajo, Dutchman Bo Bendsneyder, was extremley unlucky just 20 metres from the finish line when he was touched by another rider causing him to crash out from a possible top 5 finish, therefore Marcos Ramirez on 6th place was the top KTM rider.

RACE 8th Rd. MotoGP 2017 – TT Circuit Assen (NED)

As the half way point of 2017 season approaches, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team took their best ever MotoGP finish today in Assen, Holland after a dramatic race where mixed conditions and bravery were the order of the day resulting in Spaniard Pol Espargaro clinching 11th place as the team chips away step by step at the pinnacle of motorcycle racing.

The race started under grey skies that turned to drizzle and light rain nearly half way though, leading to some riders entering the pits and change motorcycles for ones with wet tyres. However, the crossover point of the wet tyres to be an advantage never happened so Espargaro, who didn’t stop, bravely threaded his way over a slightly damp track on slick tyres to gain the best points scoop so far for the Austrian manufacturer. Team mate Bradley Smith made a fantastic start only to be unlucky in running wide and falling off just before the rain fell. He was desperately disappointed but fortunately didn’t get any injury.

The KTM RC16 motorcycles had further development after the last race in Barcelona following a three day test in Spain resulting in data and hardware applied even if wet weather thwarted further confirmation of those tests at Assen. Now the team’s focus is already upon the German Grand Prix weekend at the Sachsenring in seven days time, the fourth race in five weeks.

Espargaro: “It was a typical Assen race as after ten laps some rain spots came down, but at the start in the dry I felt quite alright as we were about a second a lap off the top guys so it’s the best race we’ve done in dry conditions…so maybe we were going to finish about 35 seconds back (if it was dry to the end). This is important and very positive for us so I’m pretty happy, but we still need to continue working on the problems we know we have over the next races and tests. Overall though, it’s great to get KTM’s best MotoGP result, something I am very proud of as the guys here at the track and in Austria are working so hard.”

Smith: “I’m OK but just a little bit frustrated after I made a good start. In fact I felt pretty good and was in front of the group that was fighting for the top 8 but then they edged ahead as I had a new set up for this race, but I found my rhythm and got back into some low 1m 37s laps. However, later on I ran into turn seven a little bit too fast and tucked the front… I’m really sorry for the team and my crew as it’s quite frustrating that this has happened today but we’ll regroup and improve the motorcycle for Sachsenring next weekend.”

Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP): “I call today typical Assen. This is what happens here! You think everything is done and then…it’s Assen. Maybe this is a reason why we choose soft/soft tyres but when the rain came some of the riders took the risk and some not so much, so I’m very happy that Pol made the correct decision. He did his max out there but for KTM it is the best result we have achieved in MotoGP and this is in the book. It’s another step. For Bradley it’s unlucky as he put so much effort into his recovery from Barcelona to here, especially at the beginning of the race he was in a great group, but he was there…then he ran wide and fell. At least he is OK after this so now he’ll be back at the Sachsenring and stronger with it too.”

Miguel Oliveira, winner of the fastest ever Moto3 race here in Holland, started from fourth position on the Moto2 grid and initially led a thrilling race that wittled down to six riders battling wheel to wheel at the front. The Portuguese was then in fourth that converted to fifth after a last lap change of positions that saw Oliveira just half a bike length and 0.027 secs behind fourth place at the finish line. Following a decision from Race Direction there was a change of third and fourth position after the race, but nevertheless the KTM Moto2 was within 0.7 seconds of the victory on its debut at the track. He continues to hold fourth in the title chase in KTM’s debut season in the class.

Team mate Brad Binder headed his little group as he came over the line in 13th place, his injured left arm gaining strength race by race following a pre-season injury, the South African Moto3 Champion knowing he has more speed to give over the next weeks.

Oliveira: “The truth is that I’m not entirely satisfied with today’s race. It was a hard-fought race with a fairly large group at the front for this class. I hoped I could be more consistently in the lead positions or stronger, but we gave as much as we could. I have a bit of a bittersweet taste in my mouth because I felt we had possibilities for this race. This will serve as an experience to continue improving and doing better next week at Sachsenring –another completely new circuit for our bike.”

Binder: “I’m not happy, but the result is not bad either. The weekend has been very difficult for us. Today I had a good start and I felt strong, but I still lack those 3 or 4 tenths per lap that can make a difference. I give many thanks to the team, because they are working very hard. Even if things are not going as well as we want, I’m sure we’ll find the way to get back to the front. This weekend we have taken a further step forward and I achieved my best qualifying result, even though we did not have a good race. We have to keep going, working very hard every weekend, and in this way we can be a bit further ahead in future races.”

In a classic Assen Moto3 battle, front row qualifyer Bo Bendsneyder cut through the early laps to lead his home race in front of a record 105,000 crowd. In a leading group of eleven riders it could have been anybody’s race in the closing stages. On the last lap Bendsneyder was electrifying as he came through from 11th to 5th but the cruellest of luck befell him just 20 metres from the line when he was touched by another rider, toppling the Dutchman off his KTM. Although he slid over the line inside the top ten, the rules stipulate that you must be in contact with your motorcycle over the line so what could’ve been the best Dutch riders’ finish at Assen for years slipped away. Fortunately he was OK and takes the consistency and speed from the Red Bull KTM Ajo motorcycle onto Sachsenring in Germany next weekend, a circuit where he qualified 4th last year.

Team mate Niccolo Antonelli was an unlucky non-starter after two crashes yesterday left him with a bad back and although he rode in the warm up it was not his day. Therefore the best KTM over the line was Marcos Ramirez in 6th place, heading six other KTM RC250 GP’s that scored points.

Bendsneyder: “On the last chicane I went a little off-line and I got to the finish line with less speed. I hadn’t taken that into account, I was clipped and the bike went down. It was a fight for everyone and, in the end, these things happen. It’s a shame to end the race like this, but in the end I had a good race in front of my home crowd. The positive side is that we were very strong throughout the weekend; it’s a shame that we leave here without any points, but we have shown that we can be at the front and, despite the crash, we can be satisfied. It has been nice to receive the support of my fans over the last few days, and when I took the lead I heard them cheer me and it was very exciting.”

Aki Ajo (Team Manager Moto3): “Of course, we can’t be happy that finally Bo (Bendsneyder) was unable to finish. For me he was in 10th position and could have finished even better, but he had bad luck in the final stretch. In any case, he should be happy with his progress in the last few races. He is gaining confidence again and this weekend he worked really well. In the race he was fighting relentlessly, and maybe we should look at what to improve when it comes to contact with other riders, seeing if we can take another step forward and be stronger to be among the best. As for Niccolo (Antonelli), he is experiencing a lot of pain in his shoulder right now, so we have to calmly analyse if he will be able to ride at Sachsenring.”

Next Race: July 2, 2017 – Sachsenring (GER)

Results Race MotoGP TT Circuit Assen 2017
1. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha, 41:41.149 min (26 laps)
2. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Ducati, +0.063 sec
3. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda, +5.201
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR), Honda, +5.243
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Ducati, +5.327
11. Pol Espargaro (ESP), KTM, +1:09.384 min (best result)
DNF Bradley Smith (GBR), KTM, +13 laps (crash T7)

Standings MotoGP 2017 after 8 of 18 races
1. Dovizioso, 115 points
2. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha, 111
3. Rossi, 108
4. Marquez, 104
5. Dani Pedrosa (ESP), 87
20. Espargaro, 11
23. Smith, 6

Results Race Moto2 TT Circuit Assen 2017
1. Franco Morbidelli (ITA), Kalex, 39:39.120 min (24 laps)
2. Thomas Luethi (SUI), Kalex, +0.158 sec
3. Takaaki Nakagami, +0.630
4. Mattia Pasini (ITA), Kalex, +0.394 (one position penalty due to exceeding track limits)
5. Miguel Oliveira (POR), KTM, +0.657
13. Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, +18.220

Standings Moto2 2017 after 8 of 18 races
1. Morbidelli, 148 points
2. Luethi, 136
3. Alex Marquez (ESP), Kalex, 113
4. Oliveira, 94
5. Pasini, 82
17. Binder, 16

Results Race Moto3 TT Circuit Assen 2017
1. Aron Canet (ESP), Honda, 38:20.364 min (22 laps)
2. Romano Fenati (ITA), Honda, +0.035 sec
3. John McPhee (GBR), Honda, +0.117
4. Jorge Martin (ESP), Honda, +0.310
5. Jules Danilo (ITA), Honda, +0.532
6. Marcos Ramirez (ESP), KTM, +0.594
7. Gabriel Rodrigo (ESP), KTM, +0.651
10. Nicolo Bulega (ITA), KTM, +6.972
DNF Bo Bendsneyder (NED), KTM, +1 lap (crash before finish line)
DNS Niccolo Antonelli (ITA), KTM (injury/crash FP3)

Standings Moto3 2017 after 8 of 18 rounds
1. Joan Mir (ESP), Honda, 140 points
2. Canet, 110
3. Fenati, 108
4. Martin, 89
5. McPhee, 83
7. Andrea Migno (ITA), KTM, 76
8. Ramirez, 63
9. Juanfran Guevara (ESP), KTM, 54
17. Bendsneyder, 17
18. Antonelli, 16

About Author - Aja Blumanhourst

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