Solid points in MotoGP & Podium in Moto3 for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing at Motegi

RACE 15th Rd. MotoGP 2017 – Twin Ring Motegi (JAP)
Pol Espargaro & Bradley Smith KTM RC16 Twin Ring Motegi 2017

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The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team had never before been on Japanese soil but the team managed to brilliantly qualify both bikes through Q1 directly into Q2 for the first time to be 7th and 8th on the grid as the lights went green. Through enormous plumes of spray both Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro made great starts. The pace was frenetic at the front but Espargaro cut through the rain on his KTM RC16 to be easily inside the team’s regular target of the top 15 to cross the line in 11th, just outside the top 10. Bradley Smith played it safe in the first few laps but saw the flag in 17th place.

Espargaro: “It is so hard to ride in these conditions, but considering this is the first time we’ve been here in Japan with the KTM it has been super impressive to qualify so well as a team and then face this race with this amount of water on the track. We’ve never raced in conditions such as these and that was such a step, but in the end I finished 11th. Finishing the race was a priority; we did that as a team so we’ve got more points in the pocket not just from a top 15 finish, but a finish from just on the cusp of the top 10.”
Smith“They were tricky conditions out there with a lot of water; kinda similar to what we had in Misano but here it just kept on raining. I went back a bit from seventh on the grid...but I was seventh on the grid! It’s been a positive weekend in many ways and through all of the sessions even after a small crash this morning which put me a little on edge at the start. We have had many positives from the wet laps here to take forward to Phillip Island and Sepang, particularly for it rains there. Overall I’m happy with the overall weekend as it was the first time in these conditions so we’ll learn going forward.”
Mike Leitner (Team Manager MotoGP): “For all riders that was a difficult race but especially for us as we have not so many kilometres of experience in the wet, but we performed so well yesterday in qualifying that gave us a chance today. Much of this on going improvement is coming from the KTM Motorsport team in Austria who are working so hard reacting, designing and manufacturing new parts. In today’s race, when you have to look after the tyre we still have potential to improve. Pol did so well and to be fair, Bradley was not so bad at all but not quite in the points, but after his great qualifying yesterday he showed he can ride a bike well. But as I said, in the rain we’ll take this data forward for the next wet race that could easily be in Australia or Malaysia.”
Miguel Oliveira fought through the hardest conditions of the 2017 season to bring his KTM Moto2 motorcycle home in seventh position after holding a top three place early on in the race while team mate Brad Binder had another cracking start to make up 12 places from his 24th starting position. Unfortunately Binder had a slow speed tumble and was unable to restart. Next weekend’s Phillip Island Grand Prix should suit the new for 2017 KTM so the Red Bull Ajo team looks forward to that as they travel south from Japan.
Oliveira: "It was a difficult race, with lots of water on track. I was not at all comfortable, especially with the rear tyre that didn’t give me a good enough feeling to be able to push more. I was close to the Top 5, but when I understood that I couldn’t go faster I tried to control the race to the best of my ability to finish. Seventh is not the result we had hoped for, but the positive thing is that we finished and now it is time to look ahead to Phillip Island – a circuit that I like and that I think it suits our bike quite well. I'm sure we'll arrive there strong."
Binder"It's been quite a difficult weekend for me. I struggled a lot in wet conditions. I wasn’t able to have a session in which I felt comfortable. I didn’t go too fast, but in the race I gave 110% and I managed to get up to 12th in just five or six laps, despite starting from 24th. I was trying hard and unfortunately I crashed. In the end, I gave everything I had and I never stopped learning; next time I find myself in this situation I will have learned the lesson from this race."

The Red Bull KTM Ajo team made it a hat-trick of podiums at Motegi as Niccolo Antonelli brilliantly returned to spray the champagne in Moto3. After recovering from an injury in late June and missing some subsequent races, his third position was all the more sweet. He started the race from the front row and led the early laps proving his strength back on the KTM RC250 GP bike. Team mate Bo Bendsneyder backed up his team mate with a ninth over the line for his fifth top ten of the year.

Antonelli: "It's amazing to have placed on the podium this Sunday in Japan. I knew we could go fast in the wet at this circuit, because we have improved a lot, but I didn’t expect it. We have had difficulties in rainy conditions this year, although here I have had a good feeling. In the race I tried to catch Romano (Fenati), since I had nothing to lose, but the bike was slidding a lot and it was impossible to get to him. In the end, finishing second is like a win for me and a prize for the whole team, whom I want to thank for their work."

Aki Ajo (Team Manager Moto3): "I am very happy to have achieved this podium in Moto3, because this year is a very tough one for us in the lower cylinder class. We had already seen that we were improving and taking steps forward over the last few races, which was good for our confidence and motivation. I'm sure Niccolo (Antonelli) and Bo (Bendsneyder) are ready to fight for the top positions at the final races."

Next Race: October 22, 2017 – Phillip Island (AUS)

Results Race MotoGP Twin Ring Motegi 2017 
1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Ducati, 47:14.236 min (24 laps)
2. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda, +0.249 sec
3. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Ducati, +10.557
4. Andrea Iannone (ITA), Suzuki, +18.845
5. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki, +22.982
11. Pol Espargaro (ESP), KTM, +56.357
17. Bradley Smith (GBR), KTM, +1:06.271

Standings MotoGP 2017 after 15 of 18 races
1. Marquez, 244 points
2. Dovizioso, 233
3. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha, 203
4. Dani Pedrosa (ESP), Honda, 170
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha, 168
17. Espargaro, 42
23. Smith, 14
24. Kallio, 11

Results Race Moto2 
Twin Ring Motegi 2017
1. Alex Marquez (ESP), Kalex, 32:08.901 min (shortened to 15 laps)
2. Xavi Vierge (ESP), Tech 3, +1.465 sec
3. Hafizh Syahrin (MAL), Kalex, +3.134
4. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Kalex, +5.415 
5. Mattia Pasini (ITA), Kalex, +5.618
7. Miguel Oliveira (POR), KTM, +7.597
DNF. Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, +8 laps

Standings Moto2 2017 after 15 of 18 races
1. Franco Morbidelli (ESP), Kalex, 256 points
2. Tom Luethi (SUI), Kalex, 232
3. Marquez,180
4. Oliveira, 166
5. Pasini, 124
12. Binder, 67

Results Race Moto3 
Twin Ring Motegi 2017
1. Romano Fenati (ITA), Honda,  29:22.278 min (shortend to 13 laps)
2. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA), KTM, +4.146 sec

3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA), Mahindra, +5.013
4. Tatsuki Suzuki (JAP), Honda, +8.767
5. Aron Canet (ESP), Honda, +12.827
6. Philipp Oettl (GER), KTM, +14.865
9. Bo Bendsneyder (NED), KTM, +15.977

Standings Moto3 2017 after 15 of 18 rounds
1. Joan Mir, 271 points
2. Fenati, 216
3. Canet, 184

4. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA), Honda, 146
5. Jorge Martin (ESP), Honda, 135
7. Marcos Ramirez (ESP), KTM, 107
8. Andrea Migno (ITA), KTM, 106
10. Oettl, 101
14. Bendsneyder, 55
17. Antonelli, 36

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Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 Twin Ring Motegi 2017
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Niccolo Antonelli Podium Twin Ring Motegi 2017 (. jpg )

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