Red Bull KTM celebrated their second consecutive podium appearance and their seventh trophy of 2020 as Pol Espargaro flew to 3rd position in Spain. The factory saw all three of their KTM RC16s place in the top six to end the penultimate round of the season as the leading brand in the race classification. Jorge Martin scored a victory in Moto2™ as Raul Fernandez finished 3rd in Moto3™.
For the fifth time in 2020 MotoGP, the series negotiated back-to-back meetings with round fourteen of fifteen taking place at the flat, tight and curvy Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia. Red Bull KTM started the sunny but breezy 27-lap Grand Prix with three riders in the first ten positions on the grid: Pol Espargaro heading the trio on his KTM RC16 in 5th spot.
When the red light vanished on Sunday afternoon Espargaro immediately vied for the lead and then established a strong pace to hold 3rd behind Pole-setter Franco Morbidelli and Jack Miller. The Spaniard had to deal with pressure from Takaaki Nakagami but then had breathing room when the Japanese crashed entering the final corner. At the finish line Espargaro was just three seconds away from Morbidelli’s rear wheel. His 3rd position represents a repeat of his classification from the previous Sunday, his fifth podium of 2020 and KTM’s seventh top-three this year. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing is now up to 3rd in the Teams championship and Espargaro himself is 7th and 16 points from 3rd in the Riders’ table.
Closely behind Espargaro Brad Binder forged a watchable race speed to cut through the pack and duel with Alex Rins. The South African was less than half a second away from the Spaniard by the checkered flag and his ride delivered the third top-five result of the campaign for the rookie. Binder’s performance was especially satisfying considering Valencia was the location of his very first laps with the RC16 at the end of 2019 and where he was several seconds adrift of the leading riders. Once again, the 25-year old was able to demonstrate his superb progression in his maiden season.
Chasing Binder, Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira ended a decent week in Spain with a 6th position to go with his 5th scored at the Gran Premio de Europa last weekend. The Portuguese has now posted four top-six results from the last five races and is 10th in the world championship standings.
Pol Espargaro: “That was fantastic. I’m super-happy. We didn’t expect the podium this weekend. We felt that we deserved it but Nakagami was pushing me hard until he crashed. We were great from the beginning until the end and I was on the limit with the pace I could make. No mistakes. We’re again on the podium – the fifth of the season – unbelievable.”
Brad Binder: “Today was a positive race for us. I didn’t get the best of starts but I managed to find good pace, pass a few guys and work my way towards the front. I gave my absolute best today and unfortunately it was not enough to get us into that podium fight. Overall, I’m happy with how we have made steps this weekend; from Friday through to the race. We have a lot of learning to do still but we’re looking forward to Portimao already. Thanks to the team and everyone for their hard work. We’ll push again next week.”
Miguel Oliveira: “I’m happy about the race. My start was really good again, although I found it a little bit more difficult to keep the pace in the middle of the race. I couldn’t find good grip and basically I wasn’t able to stay close to the top five. Anyway, this is, what we take home and now we go to the home GP. I’m very excited. I hope we can have fun in the final race.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “Two weekends and two podiums so that’s a great achievement by the team and also Pol but the big thing today was all three bikes in the top six. We’re really happy with the work done by Brad and Miguel. Overall it is a massive credit to the company and what a great bike they have made for 2020. We have been pushing for this. Big thanks to everyone for the job and for their motivation in what has been an intense season so far.”
Moto2 & Moto3
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez finished 3rd in Valencia for this second top three appearance at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit this week and the third trophy of the season for the Spaniard. He led for most of the race but could not deflect the speed of Tony Arbolino by the end of the 23-laps. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncû managed a strong 6th position on his KTM RC4 and followed fellow KTM riders Albert Arenas (4th) and Darryn Binder (5th). Arenas now has an 8 point lead in the world championship over Ai Ogura with just one race remaining.
In Moto2 Jorge Martin throttled his Red Bull KTM Ajo machine to a second Grand Prix victory of 2020. He finished less than a second ahead of Hector Garzo in the drag race to the line and after a brave overtaking move through Turn 13. Tetsuta Nagashima scored 12th.
Jorge Martin: “I started quite well from 5th to 1st but it was tricky in the windy conditions. When I saw I was catching Hector I thought ‘come on, you can do it, never give up’. I made a move that I had been thinking about already last week and managed to make it happen. It was a risk…but you have to take those sometimes to win. Thanks to all the team, my family and the sponsors.”
David Muñoz claimed the checkered flag in the final race of the 2020 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup and his second of the weekend. Pedro Acosta had already been declared as champion last weekend and Muñoz secured the #2 plate in Valencia.
MotoGP closes next weekend with the very first visit to the spectacular Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal.
Results MotoGP Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana 2020
1. Franco Morbidelli (ITA) Yamaha 41:22.478
2. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +0.093
3. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +3.006
4. Alex Rins (ESP), Suzuki +3.697
5. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +4.127
6. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +7.272
Results Moto2 Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana 2020
1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo 40:02.225
2. Hector Garzo (ESP) +0.072
3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) +0.204
12. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo +13.041
Results Moto3 Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana 2020
1. Tony Arbolino (ITA) Honda 38:17.462
2. Sergio Garcia (ESP) Honda +1.142
3. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.297