Pol Espargaro admitted he was lucky to avoid serious injury after a heavy crash midway through the Sepang test which ruled him out of the final day. The Spaniard lost control at turn four and was forced to visit the medical centre with KTM pulling him out of the remainder of the test as a precaution.
Despite missing so much track time, Espargaro believes KTM enjoyed a productive week and sang the praises of test rider Mika Kallio.
“I feel lucky because I had a big crash on Day 2 and I hit the wall at more than 250 km/h. I’m happy not feeling too bad physically but I’m in pain from rolling through the gravel. I had some x-rays and nothing is broken but I have pain when I move so if I am still in pain when I get home I will have some further checks. Even though I couldn’t ride on the final day it was still good to be with the team and able to work with them in the background. It’s a shame to miss Day 3 and not to be able to test what we planned but Mika was able to ride my bike. It’s good because I trust his feedback 100% and it means we were still be able to get a lot of work done here in Sepang.”
Kallio completed 64 laps on Tuesday as he tested out a series of upgrades on the new KTM and although the Finn also suffered a couple of crashes, he believes the team now understand the direction they need to follow with the new machine.
“The biggest job for me was to compare the 2017 and 2018 bikes. We have both here so I was able to back to back both bikes. I was working mostly on the electronics and new WP front forks this week. Conditions were quite good this week and even at the two day private test just before I was able to get a lot of work completed. In the official test I crashed twice so it was more difficult for me. I crashed in the heavy braking zone twice and that’s unusual for me so we need to analyse the data and see why I have a slightly different feeling on the new bike compared to the previous model. We will go through the data to understand carefully what is the next step for the development of this bike because Pol and Bradley had similar comments about the feeling from the front.”
Bradley Smith was busier than any other rider on the final day, completing 77 laps, and feels the team are well placed to make further progress at the next test in Thailand in February.
“Obviously it’s a busy test schedule here in Sepang and after Pol’s crash it has meant that myself and Mika have had to work through a lot. It’s been a chance for us to evaluate a lot of different things and to give us a direction on what to do. On Day 3 the grip was a little less and that means that it’s good conditions for us to test in. Usually when the track gets grippy and hot we struggle a little bit so it’s been good to have these conditions. I’m generally quite pleased with what we’ve tested because I think that we’ve got a good base to work with at the Thailand tests in a few days time.”