Pol Espargaro jogged some pleasant memories for the KTM team as he returned to the podium in the 2020 French MotoGP, two years after claiming the manufacturer’s first ever top three result in similar conditions at Valencia.
Much has changed for KTM since that day when luck played its part in lifting Espargaro onto the podium in orange for the first time, with his run to third at Le Mans just the latest in a string of strong results from the manufacturer in what has been a breakthrough season.
On this occasion Espargaro rise to the rostrum was a methodical one having gotten a good start before fading during the first half of the race, only to haul himself back into the thick of the action when the long-time leading Ducatis began to hit problems.
Grabbing third off Andrea Dovizioso on the penultimate lap, while weather was certainly a factor in Spain two years ago, he is satisfied we would have had a similar result in the dry.
“The Ducati’s were incredible at the start of the race, they warm the tyres so quickly but then by the end Dovi was struggling to open the throttle, he was short-shifting in most of the fast corners. I had a feeling we had something else that would allow us to challenge at the end of the race, but at the beginning it was impossible to follow them.
“I tried to stay on the bike but then slowly everything became better and I felt the ike was performing well and once I had everything under control I started to get a good rhythm.
“I take this podium, I am very happy because it’s two podiums in three races and we just need to be more consistent when we are not on the podium, take that sixth, seventh, eighth position to get some points but it is starting to be fun. The last part of the season is going to be interesting.
“The bike is improving in all conditions, in the dry we could have also done something very good. Maybe not the podium because Yamaha was performing well all weekend, so it would be difficult here but it would be close.
Though Espargaro hasn’t topped the podium as yet – unlike Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira – his third podium of the year does lift him back into position as top KTM rider overall. However, he says isn’t a status he is chasing.
“I want to be the best MotoGP rider at the end of the year, which is going to be tricky,” he said. “In 90% of the sessions I am the first KTM, day by day I push myself to be a better rider, not better than my team-mates. It is not my goal to be the first KTM.
“In past years I tried to push myself to the limit, so whatever Miguel or Brad do I will continue in this way. They are talented and fast riders and this has helped me improve myself and check my riding style and skills, but I don’t get happiness if I see them behind me in the standings, I am happy when I am pleased with myself in a race.”