Espargaro: It was a "miracle" I could ride in Qatar

Pol Espargaro feels that recovering so quickly from a hernia that forced him to skip the Thailand MotoGP test and being able to ride in Qatar was a "miracle".

Espargaro: It was a "miracle" I could ride in Qatar
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, new KTM fairing
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

The KTM rider has endured a difficult pre-season after a crash on the second day of the opening test at Sepang led to him withdrawing from the final day and skipping the following Buriram test.

While he returned and rode on the first day at Qatar, he decided to sit out the second day due to still not being fully fit.

Espargaro was back on track for the final day, but could no better than 19th, 1.4s behind the benchmark time of Johann Zarco and three tenths off teammate Bradley Smith's pace.

The Spaniard said he was "pretty lucky" and that it was a "miracle" that he was able to ride in Qatar at all.

"It is not the best way to start the season or the best way to finish the pre-season but it is the way it is and we need to take it as it comes and accept that," said Espargaro.

"I feel pretty lucky because after hernia to be back on a MotoGP bike two days in one test, it is a miracle.

"Even doing [the test] at not 100 percent we did a good job. Super-happy that we could ride the last day. I tested several things and some of them worked; I don't think I am that far from the top guys."

Smith: KTM 1.2s faster than this time last year

KTM's spearhead in Qatar, Smith ended the final pre-season test in 14th overall, 1.1s off the pace.

The Briton said that KTM improved just as much as other manufacturers did over the course of the winter, and that the Austrian marque is 1.2s quicker than it was this time a year ago.

"It was good to keep within that 1.1-1.2s gap to the front and, like Thailand, we were able to improve at the same rate as the other manufacturers," he said. "That means the Red Bull KTM team are reacting and doing a good job overnight.

"Getting under that last second is a nice little target for us but I think we are already 1.2 seconds faster than we were last year here, so we have to be very pleased.

"We’ve made good progress over the last twelve months and we can be proud. It’s nice to finally finish the tests and iron out some of the details ready for the start of the season."

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