2018 MOTOGP SEASON SO FAR: HALF A SEASON OF PROGRESS
As MotoGP gathers in Brno for the Grand Prix of Czech Republic this weekend Red Bull KTM Factory Racing sits 14th (Pol Espargaro) and 19th in the current MotoGP FIM World Championship standings and 5th in the Constructor’s table after nine rounds of nineteen in the 2018 campaign. Espargaro has scored points in seven of the Grands Prix to-date, including five 11th position finishes while Smith and test rider Mika Kallio classified 10th for their best result of the season so far last time out at Sachsenring in Germany and at the wildcard in Jerez.
Pol Espargaro, Mika Kallio & Bradley Smith KTM RC16 Circuito de Jerez 2018
2018 has been a term of encouraging progression for the team, factory and the prototype KTM RC16 race machine in what is only KTM’s second season at the pinnacle of motorcycle competition. To back up that notion another use of numbers and data becomes very relevant. With 51 points in total – test rider Mika Kallio also weighing in with his contribution in Qatar and Spain – Red Bull KTM have improved in all but two events and accumulated 29 more than they had managed at this stage in 2017 (where they had logged 22 points).
The team have bettered their fastest lap at seven of eight Grands Prix (discounting Catalunya for the revised 2018 layout): the most notable of these achievements coming at Qatar, Austin and Assen where the quickest time was more than a second under their 2017 efforts.
Thanks to fine-tuning with chassis, electronics and engine settings to make the most of the Michelin control-tyre potential, the crew have also helped Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and Kallio vastly shrink the race distance to the eventual winner. There has been a significant reduction at every Grand Prix, and the standout is undoubtedly at Assen – one of the trickiest and most rapid courses on the calendar – where the gap to victor Marc Marquez plunged from 69.3 seconds to just 15.8.
Before his unlucky knee injury at Sachsenring, Kallio had been helping to develop the latest version of the RC16; a model that troubled the top ten of the grid at Jerez in May. Technical evolution is concise, relentless and ‘sixth gear’ for the team and the whole R&D staff back at Mattighofen.
“We try to have a constant development of the bike, so when we’re able to bring something in, we’ll do it,” Team Manager Mike Leitner admitted to during an assessment of the manufacturer’s young MotoGP story and outlook for the future. “But, of course, we’re trying to stay within the rules and the rules in MotoGP are also quite tight. So some things we can only bring next year and we try to constantly improve our ‘2018’ bike on all aspects: we work to try and improve on the chassis side, we work hard on the electronics and engine side, the aerodynamics side, so let’s see what we can bring in this second half (of the season). It won’t be everything at once, it’ll be step by step.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team will continue their fascinating and positive journey at Brno and then head straight to their home Grand Prix at Red Bull Ring on August 12th.