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Pol Espargaro hits the top eleven again at home Grand Prix

The 24 lap race distance was run in slightly cooler conditions compared to the sunshine and humidity that flooded the Grand Prix de Catalunya on Saturday for qualification.

Pol Espargaro could count on the backing of fans, family and friends in the grandstands for the 27 year old’s home event and at the circuit where he made his debut at 15 in 2006 and won the Moto2 class in 2013. Pol claimed 18th position twelve months ago with the KTM RC16 so his 11th (the fifth time this season #44 has crossed the finish line with the same ranking) and reduced race distance to winner Jorge Lorenzo (36.5 seconds compared to the 49 of 2017) represented real progress.
 
Bradley Smith, the top qualifier after work during Friday and Saturday, ran strongly within the top ten for the first three laps and dropped back into the group scrabbling for the final point. He was then taken-out by a falling Taka Nakagami at mid-race distance.
 
Mika Kallio’s second wild-card appearance this year thrust the Finn back into the heat of competition, and using the refined RC16 with a view towards the 2019 season. Sadly #36’s race did not last longer than the first lap with a highsider at Turn 14.
 
Espargaro: “I think we did everything we could today. I was cruising in the race because I could not push any more and could not open the throttle so hard because we were spinning a lot and suffering in the long turns where we have to wait to pick up the bike. I tried to ride smooth until the end and to pick up points: 11th again! We made progress here compared to last year and hopefully will test some more parts of the package to get consistently where we need to be and inside that top ten. That's what we are working for.”
 
Smith: “A shame what happened and especially because I felt good all weekend. The start was amazing and I pushed hard in the first laps to maintain the position. I then found my normal pace and rhythm with Pol just inside the points and unfortunately Nakagami crashed and took me out. It is hard to finish a race like that after a positive weekend but we’ll look forward to the test tomorrow and trying to get our bike ready for Assen.”
 
Kallio“Really sad to finish the weekend like this. In the morning we went back to our standard set-up on the bike and I felt quite good and confident for the race. The plan was to attack on the first lap because I was quite far back on the grid. There was nothing strange in the moment that I crashed. I was following my line in the group and it really surprised me because I touched the throttle and immediately lost rear grip. I don't know if I pushed a bit too much on the first lap but I felt really good in the other corners. I thought we had a chance to collect points in the race. I had a big bang on the right side of my body and it was a bit hard to breathe but everything seems to be OK. It’s just a bit painful and will be better after some days. We have to see for tomorrow but I hope with some painkillers I can ride in the morning before giving my bike to the race guys.”
 
Mike Leitner (Team Manager): “We reduced the gap to the winner and took some more positions compared to last year but this race was difficult from day one because we were struggling with the tyre situation. It was a tricky race for each rider and they just had to survive in a way. Pol did well and Bradley did really well and was unlucky. We found quite a good package in the warm-up for Mika and he was feeling confident because he wasn't happy in qualifying but he had a typical ‘first lap’ mistake. We have a full list of things to test tomorrow and we knew that here, and Mugello, would be tough for us and where we suffered in our first year. We are still suffering in our second year but we are coming closer and we have to work to be even better in our third season.” 

Red Bull KTM’s duties are not quite finished at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. A one-day test session tomorrow will allow the riders to continue their development and evolution work with the RC16.

Moto2
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Miguel Oliveira scored a fifth podium from the last six Moto2 Grands Prix with second position behind Fabio Quartararo. The Portuguese made another fantastic assault in the opening laps from 17th place on the grid to vie for his second GP success on the trot. Quartararo was able to pull away in the final third of the sprint (and Oliveira survived a scary collision after the chequered flag when he was hit by Simone Corsi) but #44’s efforts meant that he pulls to within a single point of Francesco Bagnaia at the top of the Moto2 standings. Brad Binder was also in the lead group and finished 6th while Swiss innovative Investors Sam Lowes rode brilliantly on his KTM Moto2 bike to classify 9th after starting from the back of the grid.

Oliveira
"It was a very positive race. Here it was important not to lose too many points and, finally, we ended up getting twenty more for the overall standings. I am very happy because we took a good result for the team after a very tough weekend. In qualifying we had some problems with the bike, so now we will try to focus on improving our performance in practice – which will allow us not to start from so far back and have to take so many risks at the beginning of the race. Although we've been doing well up to now, the season is long and we must be consistent, so the team are working to find a solution. 
When I crossed the finish line, on the lap of honour, I was waving to the fans and I didn't have my hands on the handlebars. Suddenly, I felt that I'd been hit from behind. Fortunately nobody was hurt. In the end, it's a good second place that is very important for the World Championship."

Aki Ajo (Team Manager Moto2): "It was another impressive race by Miguel (Oliveira). I have to say that this morning I was a little worried, because our times with new tyres were not at the level we were expecting and the times in the warmup were not good enough either. However, at the key moment Miguel gave everything he had and once again demonstrated his great racing spirit. I want to thank him, the team, KTM, Red Bull and all the partners for making this podium possible. Brad Binder also had a good race. I'm sure he expected more and we have to analyse why he dropped off a little at the end. In any case it has been a solid weekend for him; he has done a good job."

Moto3 
KTM filled the second and third spots of the Moto3 podium after a dramatic race that saw a total of five riders fall out through on-track collisions, and a typically frantic group battle for the win. Marco Bezzecchi claimed his fourth trophy of the season on his Redox PruestelGP KTM RC250 GP (and leads the series) and Gabriel Rodrigo made the rostrum for the very first time with the RBA BOE Skull KTM.
 
After working its way across southern Europe for the last two rounds MotoGP will again head north through the continent and to the hallowed kinks and curves of the TT Circuit Assen in two weeks time.

Next Race: July 1, 2018 – TT Circuit Assen (NED)

Results MotoGP Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya 2018 
1. Jorge Lorenzo (ESP), Ducati, 40:13.566 min (24 laps)
2. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda, +4.479 sec
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha, +6.098
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR), Honda, +9.805
5. Dani Pedrosa (ESP), Honda, +10.640
KTM
11. Pol Espargaro (ESP), KTM, +36.560
DNF Bradley Smith (GBR), KTM, +11 laps
DNF Mika Kallio (FIN), KTM, +24

Standings MotoGP 2018 after 7 of 19 rounds 
1. Marquez, 115 points
2. Rossi, 88
3. Maverick Vinales (ESP), Yamaha, 77
4. Johann Zarco (FRA), Yamaha, 73
5. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Ducati, 71
KTM
13. Espargaro, 28
21. Smith, 7
22. Kallio, 6

Results Moto2 Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya 2018 
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Speed Up, 38:22.059 min (22 laps)
2. Miguel Oliveira (POR), KTM, +2.492 sec 
3. Alex Marquez (ESP), Kalex, +3.486
4. Marcel Schrötter (GER), Kalex, +4.398
5. Xavi Vierge (ESP), Kalex, +4.687
KTM
6. Brad Binder (RSA), KTM, +7.637
9. Sam Lowes (GBR), KTM, +13.909
10. Icer Lecuona (ESP), KTM, +15.124

Standings Moto2 2018 after 7 of 19 rounds 
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA), Kalex, 119 points
2. Oliveira, 118
3. Marquez, 94
4. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA), Kalex, 93
5. Vierge, 70
KTM
8. Binder, 57

Results Moto3 Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya 2018 
1. Enea Bastianini (ITA), Honda, 38:36.883 min (21 laps)
2. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA), KTM, +0.167 sec
3. Gabriel Rodrigo (ESP), KTM, +0.170
4. John McPhee (GBR), KTM, +0.257
5. Tatsuki Suzuki (JAP), Honda, +0.639
KTM
9. Dennis Foggia (ITA), KTM, +7.316
10. Raul Fernandez (ESP), KTM, +7.507
DNF Darryn Binder (RSA), KTM, +21 laps


Standings Moto3 2018 after 7 of 19 rounds 
1. Bezzecchi, 103 points
2. Fabio Di Giannantonio (ITA), Honda, 84
3. Jorge Martin (ESP), Honda, 80
4. Bastianini, 68
5. Aron Canet (ESP), Honda, 61
KTM
6. Rodrigo, 57
7. Andrea Migno (ITA), KTM, 56
9. Jakub Kornfeil (CZE), KTM, 41
10. Marcos Ramirez (ESP), KTM, 38
22. Binder, 11