12th for Espargaro at Australian Grand Prix as KTM dominate Moto2

MotoGP 2019 Round 17 of 19, Phillip Island Circuit (AUS) - RACE
Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 MotoGP Australia 2019

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Proceedings around the epic landscape of Phillip Island began with a busy Sunday schedule as the postponed Q1 and Q2 qualification sessions from Saturday took place shortly after warm-up and in chilly, breezy but dry conditions. The Red Bull KTM riders then occupied their slots on the grid accordingly with Pol Espargaro in 17th, Mika Kallio 18th, and Hafizh Syahrin in 20th. Miguel Oliveira was declared unfit to ride after his fast crash in FP4 Saturday afternoon. The Portuguese will undergo an MRI scan on a bruised and swollen left hand and right wrist. Luckily the former GP winner did not sustain more serious injury in the spill that was caused by strong winds pushing him off the Australian course.

The 27 laps of the MotoGP race – the 31st at Phillip Island - began with Espargaro sliding into mid-pack and just outside the top ten as he steered the KTM RC16 in search of optimum grip. The Spaniard earned 12th place and four more FIM World Championship points. Teammate Mika Kallio was also vying for his second dose of MotoGP points since coming into the Red Bull KTM set-up three races ago. The Finn eventually had to retire due to severe rear tyre degradation. Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rider Hafizh Syahrin reached the top fifteen for the fifth time this season as the Malaysian secured the final points-scoring ranking in 15th.

MotoGP now moves onto a third consecutive race and the heat and humidity of Sepang in Malaysia.

Pol Espargaro: “It was a complicated weekend. We struggled for grip and traction. In 2017 we were much faster but we had a lot of problems here last year and again this weekend. I think part of it is down to the weather and all the changes we have to make to the bike. Anyway we need to look at the bigger picture and the whole season has been much better. We cannot explain this one track but I think this is part of developing a bike and making it better for every circuit. We will reset in Malaysia. In the worst conditions we took four points and were fourteen seconds from the podium – which is not good – but not horrible. After a difficult weekend we’ll take this.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “I had a really good race. In the beginning I needed some time to find a good feeling with the hard tyre but after a few laps I started to find a rhythm. Behind Kallio, I couldn’t find a slipstream, so I needed to catch him in the corner and finally I passed him in turn one on the brakes and I tried to pass Abraham. Unfortunately, in the last lap it was impossible for me. In the end, one point is better than nothing. We know that we need to be stronger in the beginning of the race.”

Mika Kallio: “We were thinking before the race ‘soft or hard’ tyre and believed the temperature was improving so we chose the hard. I saw after a few laps that the race would be very difficult. There was no grip at all. I managed to do a few fast laps but then the grip was completely gone and I was spinning and spinning off the corners. In the end there was no rubber at all on the rear and because of that I also pushed and destroyed the left side of the front tyre! This weekend is something we need to forget and think about Malaysia. We had a lot more data from there, like everybody else, and I have been there many times with the MotoGP bike with KTM. I think it will be easier for us.”

Miguel Oliveira: “The reason I was unfit today was the swelling on my left hand and the pain on the right wrist. I could not squeeze with power and therefore not grab the handlebars. Speaking with the doctors in the medical centre they saw it was maybe better to do an MRI today to check if there is any ligament damages on the right wrist, so this is what I’m going to do. I will fly to Malaysia Monday afternoon and as soon as I land, I should already have the reports. Fingers crossed, that everything goes well! My only wish is to ride and hopefully everything will turn out in the best possible way.”

Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “This weekend was really tough for everybody but we had a problem finding a good setting for the race through the different weather conditions. It was horrible seeing some of the crashes on Saturday and we hope Miguel will be OK after his check in the hospital on his hand. Mika was struggling with rear grip, as were many riders and with other manufacturers. Pol took 12th and it’s a result that we’re not too happy about anymore, we know we can be further forward. We were eleven seconds from the podium and we have to keep realistic but it was a difficult race and we expected more from our visit to Phillip Island.”

Moto2 & Moto3

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder celebrated the team’s third successive Moto2 victory at Phillip Island and the South African’s third win of 2019 (his seventh podium) thanks to a masterful performance. Binder had to be at his best at the front of the field to keep teammate Jorge Martin at bay. The Spaniard, who has been in quick form in the last weeks, kept close watch on Binder and passed the chequered flag less than two seconds adrift for what was his second podium result in a row.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta won the Moto3 Grand Prix. KTM were best represented by Albert Arenas as the 2018 winner ran to 3rd position around the quick Australian curves with his RC4 and was less than a tenth of a second from his Italian rival and second placed Marcos Ramirez at the flag.

Brad Binder: “I expected there to be a big group and a massive fight but after just five laps I realised it was just going to be me and my teammate. On one hand it was a bit of pressure but on the other I was more relaxed because it is much easier to deal with one person than ten! I am really happy, and I gave my absolute best the whole race. I think it was one of the best I have done because I really limited the mistakes. I need to say a big thank you to the team because the bike working amazingly from FP1.”

Jorge Martin: “In these last three races I’ve felt very good fighting in the lead group and I’m really happy about that. Today the race was a bit easier than in Japan, as taking off ahead is always a plus. I tried to follow Brad [Binder], but he was pushing really hard. I’m very satisfied with the result and for the team as they deserve the double podium. I'm already looking forward to the next GP.”

The Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit will stage the penultimate round of 2019 MotoGP this weekend.

Next race: November 3rd, Shell Malaysia Motorcycling Grand Prix, Sepang International Circuit

Download the 2019 Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycling Grand Prix photo gallery HERE

Results Race MotoGP Phillip Island Circuit 2019

1. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda 40:43.729
2. Cal Crutchlow (GBR), Honda +11.413
3. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +14.499
4. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Ducati +14.554
5. Joan Mir (ESP), Suzuki +14.817
12. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM +25.554
15. Hafizh Syahrin (MYS), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +46.206
DNF. Mika Kallio (FIN), Red Bull KTM
DNS. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3

Results Race Moto2 Phillip Island Circuit 2019

1. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Ajo 38:53.277
2. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.968
3. Thomas Luthi (SUI), Kalex +6.021

Results Race Moto3 Phillip Island Circuit 2019

1. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ESP), Honda 37:45.817
2. Marcos Ramirez (ESP), Honda +0.077
3. Albert Arenas (ESP), KTM +0.088
16. Can Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo +16.735

Press & PR Manager
Sebastian Kuhn
+43 676 599 0084

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