Red Bull KTM Ajo start the Spanish Grand Prix positively in Top 10


Red Bull KTM Ajo start first European event strong. Improvements in second free practice session put Hanika, Oliveira and Binder amongst the 10 fastest riders.


The first Moto3 World Championship round of the year in Europe began on Friday at the Jerez Circuit. Karel Hanika, Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder completed the opening day in seventh, eighth and ninth respectively on the combined timesheets. The Red Bull KTM Ajo team did a thorough job of setting up their bikes, with configurations quite different to those used at the first three Grands Prix of the season.

Starting from scratch, Hanika, Oliveira and Binder faced the first free practice session with a clear objective of finding an optimum setup. In their three first stints, Hanika, Oliveira and Binder made steady improvements and rode inside the Top 10. Hanika finished in ninth place in FP1 and Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder placed just outside the Top 10 –in twelfth and thirteenth place, respectively.

With more confidence in the setups of their KTM bikes, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders pushed hard to start FP2. Despite track temperatures of almost 40 degrees, Oliveira –who could take a second consecutive pole tomorrow– led the second free practice session at one point, although at the end of the session Hanika placed ahead of him in sixth, with a time of 1:47.622. Oliveira was little more than a tenth of second slower, with a time of 1:47.788 almost identical to the best lap set by Binder in eighth –1:47.835–.

It was a positive day for Red Bull KTM Ajo, who are very confident that there is room for improvement ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session at 12.35pm –local time–.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Efren Vazquez (Honda) 1:47.088
2. Fabio Quartararo (Honda) 1:47.256 +0.168
3. Isaac Viñales (Husqvarna) 1:47.411 +0.323
4. Danny Kent (Honda) 1:47.421 +0.333
5. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 1:47.512 +0.424
7. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:47.622 +0.534
8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:47.788 +0.700
9. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:47.835 +0.747

Miguel Oliveira,
“It was a fairly positive day. We understand the direction to take when we encounter unforeseen circumstances and this is what we had today. The conditions in the second session were difficult, with a lot of heat, which meant it was very difficult to make consistent laps. We have to improve our grip and the feeling with the rear, especially when I am leaning over. Tomorrow we will try to improve the tyre life and, as always, work with the race in mind.”

Brad Binder,
“The first session in the morning was very difficult, because in Argentina we worked hard to find the ideal setup for that circuit, today we decided to go with the same setting and it did not work at all. For the second session we moved to a similar setup as in preseason testing and I felt much more confident with the bike. Every time I got on the bike I made improvements and I know that tomorrow if we resolve some things we can improve even more. In preseason testing the track temperature was much colder, and I do not know why I could go so much faster then. No one has set a 1:45 today; maybe tomorrow we might see one or two, but it’s not like in preseason testing. It is a completely different circuit, although I prefer how it was today in the second session.”

Karel Hanika,
“Today went quite well for the team and for me. We tried to do as we did in Argentina: Ride and complete a lot of laps. The feeling was not bad but in the first session we tried to find the differences between today’s track conditions and those from the preseason test. In the second session it was very hot and I think we could have gone much faster with a slightly lower temperature, although this is the heat that we will likely have during the race, so we have to find the best setup for race distance and not just for a single lap. Unlike the preseason test, today was sunny –but unfortunately for the riders the track becomes very slippery after a few laps. In preseason testing the times were better but this is the same for everyone. We are going in the right direction and I hope to continue like this tomorrow and Sunday.”