A dedicated weekend of work, speed and optimistic race pace helped the Red Bull KTM rider in another hot and difficult 25-laps of MotoGP competition in Spain. Three of the four RC16s on the grid set-off from the first three rows, headed by Red Bull KTM Tech3s Miguel Oliveira in 5th place.
With track temperatures pushing both tire and energy preservation at the fore, it was Espargaro who managed to weather the conditions that delivered a high level of attrition in the MotoGP field. The Spaniard settled into a steady ride at mid-race distance to post his second top-seven result at the Jerez circuit with the KTM RC16.
Brad Binder, who had rocked the MotoGP establishment by setting the 3rd fastest time during Free Practice in just his second Grand Prix and went directly through to Q2 on Sunday unfortunately clipped Oliveira’s rear wheel on the first corner. The impact sent the Portuguese out of the race and Binder had to again recover from last position, setting lap-times equal to the leaders for the second Sunday in a row on his way back to 12th. The South African’s Grand Prix ended on lap 13 with a highside fall at Turn 13. The same corner also caught out Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Iker Lecuona on lap six.
Pol Espargaro: “A lot of things happened! It was not like last week’s race. I almost crashed at the beginning when I touched [Danilo] Petrucci’s rear wheel and I lost some positions. I had to fight to recover the ground and pushed a lot but then I was really suffering in the heat. Last week was not too bad but today I almost couldn’t continue. The bike is performing very well and normally Jerez is one of the toughest circuits for us. We’ve seen other manufacturers struggling but the team did great and we’ve been able to show some of the improvements that everybody in the factory has been working towards in the winter. For sure we were expecting a bit more today, but we’ve been gaining points and we’re equal fourth in the championship.”
Brad Binder: “Today definitely did not go to plan and the worst thing was that I destroyed the race for Miguel. He’d had a great weekend up until then and I’m sure he would have had a strong race. Really sorry about that. I had a good start and I didn’t see Danilo on the inside and when I picked up it was already too late: I couldn’t avoid Miguel. When I saw the crash I was really worried so I’m glad he’s OK. After that my race was already difficult. I tried my best to track my way through the field. I kept working and pushing and coming into the last corner I tucked the front and I tried to pick it up but it gripped and highsided. Luckily I’m OK and we’ll try again next time.”
Miguel Oliveira: “I was just an unlucky guy in this position but there was really nothing I could do to avoid the crash. It was the first corner, everyone wants to gain positions, so it’s normal that sometimes we misjudge braking points and we are too optimistic. We have more races this year so it’s not the end of the world. We’ll take the positives from this weekend and we continue on to the next one.”
Iker Lecuona: “Last week, I was fighting with the temperatures. In the race today, I don’t know why, but the bike felt a bit different than before. I was fighting a lot with Alex Marquez. I made a mistake and tried to push again but finally I lost the front. I’m very sorry for my team. I know that they are pushing very hard all the time. We will try to improve in Brno.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “The weekend in general was very positive and we were very optimistic for the race but this is how the sport is sometimes. It was sad to see Miguel and Brad out of the running on the first corner but we have seen many problems at this turn over the years. Brad pushed and showed great speed again until he went a bit too hard into the last corner. We’re happy the riders are all fit and can go to Brno without any problems. Pol is up to 5th in the championship now and we saw that many bikes had serious problems in the conditions but we were able to finish. We’ll take this 7th position as a positive and we worked hard for it. We’ll go to Brno hoping for another good week.”
SKY Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti took his KTM RC4 to 3rd position on the Moto3 podium. The Italian headed brandmate and CIP Green Power rider Darryn Binder in 4th as Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez finished in 6th place. Winner of the Moto3 GPs in Qatar and Jerez the previous weekend, Solunion Aspar Team’s Albert Arenas, crashed out in the final phase of the race. The Spaniard still fronts the championship.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin made the top six in a tough Moto2 race. Championship leader and teammate Tetsuta Nagashima took a tumble in practice and set off from a qualification slot of 15th. The Japanese managed 11th at the checkered flag.
MotoGP disembarks from Spain after almost two weeks of work at Jerez. The series heads to Brno for the Monster Energy Grand Prix Ceske republiky on August 9th.
Results MotoGP Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucía 2020
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA), Yamaha 41:22.666
2. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha +4.495
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha +5.546
4. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN), Honda +6.113
5. Joan Mir (ESP), Yamaha +7.693
7. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM +17.488
DNF. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM
DNF. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3
DNF. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Red Bull KTM Tech3
Results Moto2 Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucía 2020
1. Enea Bastianini (ITA) Kalex 39:23.922
2. Luca Marini (ITA) Kalex +2.153
3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) Kalex +3.243
6. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +11.988
11. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo +20.2447
Results Moto3 Gran Premio Red Bull de Andalucía 2020
1. Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN) Honda 39:18.861
2. John McPhee (JPN) Honda +0.064
3. Celestino Vietti (ITA) KTM +0.134
4. Darryn Binder (RSA) KTM +0.628
5. Gabriel Rodrigo (ARG) Honda +0.817