KTM can make 'another big step' in 2018

KTM can make 'another big step' in 2018
By AutoSport

07/11/2017 at 12:58Updated

Pol Espargaro believes KTM will make "another big step" in 2018, having become a regular top 10 presence in its rookie MotoGP campaign.

KTM has had at least one bike in the top 10 in six of the last eight races, with Espargaro

now 16th in the points, between Suzuki pair Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins, while KTM finds itself tied with Aprilia for fifth in the manufacturers' standings with a race to go.

"At the beginning of the year our target was to finish in the top 10 in one race, and finish in the points some races," said Espargaro.

"Already we have done some top 10s and we are fighting for the top 10 in all the races.

"It's impressive where we have arrived. Maybe we didn't expect at the beginning because we started at the back, but we are in between the Suzukis [in the points], very close to Aprilia.

"In the first year, for a factory like KTM that has never been in the MotoGP world, this is impressive.

"I'm looking forward to when KTM brings new pieces next year, because it's going to be another big step in front. The next step is the top five."

Espargaro added he was pleased to see team-mate Bradley Smith keep his ride for 2018 despite strong rumours he could be replaced by test rider Mika Kallio amid a poor run of results.

"This was the plan at the beginning [for KTM to keep Smith]," said Espargaro.

"We have been already together a lot of years, I have a very good relationship with Bradley.

"Bradley is a good rider, I'm happy he continues with this team.

"I'm happy that we can develop together this bike, because the future looks shining. We'll see what we can do together.

"Finally Bradley found something in Phillip Island [starting and finishing in the top 10], I'm happy he's fast, this makes also be faster because I have a team-mate who is pushing."