KTM no longer "kicking like crazy" with big-bang engine

KTM’s MotoGP bike is no longer “kicking like crazy” with the switch to its reconfigured big-bang engine, Pol Espargaro says.

KTM no longer "kicking like crazy" with big-bang engine
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Bradley Smith, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Bradley Smith, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Bradley Smith, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
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Having started the year with the only ‘screamer’ motor on the grid, after Honda’s winter switch, KTM followed suit in moving to the ‘big-bang’ firing order with the specification introduced at Jerez.

Espargaro and teammate Bradley Smith tested the new unit at Le Mans days beforehand, and an initial evaluation in first practice turned into running it for the entire weekend.

The Spaniard said improved acceleration has been the main difference with the new engine.

“We were complaining about the acceleration, especially in first two gears,” he said. “Now the bike has good traction because the engine allows the tyres to do that and the power curve again is normal.

“It’s not kicking like crazy, everything feels good and the result is that we can follow [other riders] on the acceleration.”

While Espargaro crashed out of the Jerez race, Smith scored points for the second time this year with a 14th place finish.

He said being followed by winner Dani Pedrosa during the post-race test on Monday offered further insight into the KTM’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We’re not lacking in power in my opinion,” Smith said. “We are making good progress from than point of view. We have good acceleration and we have a bike with good rear grip.

“I think I had Dani behind me, and even when they’re behind you, you can work out what their strong points are because you can hear it in the tone of the engine, them closing on you or getting further away. That even happens when the race winner is following you for two or three laps."

KTM open to "sacrificing" weekends

Espargaro added that he and Smith are open to making “sacrifices” during race weekends to help the bike’s development, given KTM is essentially “testing” at this early stage of the year.

“We are not playing for the championship or even the top 10 right now,” he said. "Even if in the future we need to use a new engine, if we’re going to start from last, we don’t care. 

“KTM and Red Bull are making a big effort to bring these new pieces for us. If we, the riders, need to do some sacrifices for it, we’re going to do it.”

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