Pol Espargaro says KTM riders opening to making MotoGP 'sacrifices'
|By Mitchell Adam||Tuesday, May 16th 2017, 14:36 GMT|
Pol Espargaro says he and KTM team-mate Bradley Smith are open to making "sacrifices" during MotoGP weekends to help the bike's development.
The Austrian manufacturer has made notable progress since making its full-time debut at Qatar in March, scoring points with both riders in Argentina, and qualifying 15th and 16th at Jerez last weekend.
KTM took a new engine to the Spanish Grand Prix just days after testing it at Le Mans, and both riders opted to use it for the entire weekend.
Espargaro said they were open to trying things given KTM is essentially "testing" at this early stage.
"We are not playing for the championship or even the top 10 right now," he said.
"Even if in the future we need to use a new engine, if we're going to start from last, we don't care.
"KTM and Red Bull are making a big effort to bring these new pieces for us.
"If we, the riders, need to do some sacrifices for it, we're going to do it."
Both KTM riders had a chance of making it into the second phase of qualifying at Jerez, Espargaro getting within three tenths of progressing from Q1.
Smith felt he was in the mix to make Q2 automatically, other than a mistake on his last lap in third practice while chasing a top 10 spot.
KTM tested at Jerez several times in 2016, including last November with Smith, who says it has "obviously taken big steps" since then.
The Briton believes it also found 5% worth of performance in the month between the Argentinian Grand Prix and Jerez.
"When it really come down to it in qualifying they have that extra little bit in their pocket," Smith said of KTM's would-be midfield rivals.
"The other guys have 5% in their pocket that we're racing against at the moment.
"So that's something that we continue to improve but we're closing the gap.
"We've improved like 5% from Argentina so then hopefully 5% more in somewhere like Le Mans so we can start to think we're [midfield] contenders."