Dani Pedrosa can be considered the hero of the day in Jerez. It's not just a matter of rewarding him for the sixth place gained in the Sprint Race which goes hand in hand with the second row conquered in qualifying in his wild card, but rather in seeing how important his work in KTM is. In fact, today the Austrian bikes demonstrated a very high competitive level, with no less than three RC16s crossing the finish line in the first six positions, the victory for Binder, the third step of the podium for Miller and sixth for Pedrosa.
Pedrosa can take ample credit for this result, thanks to his work as a test rider which is bringing excellent results together with the inclusion of ex-Ducati men in the Mattighofen garage. The KTM is today a bike that is at least as competitive as the Ducati and Aprilia, and can seriously be taken into consideration for the world title given the consistency shown above all by Binder, who once again was a real bulldog in the race today.
"It was my first Saturday with the new MotoGP format - commented Pedrosa - qualifying was a bit strange, but in the end I was lucky to find a clear track and no rain, so I was able to do two good laps I was very careful never to touch the wet curbs, maybe I could have gone faster if I had been more daring. But in any case, the second row was fantastic."
How did you find the Sprint Race?
"In the Sprint Race you ride really aggressively. The riders try to gain as many positions as possible at the start and the second start was fine for me. I chose to go wide because there were some riders aiming for the inside, in fact, someone touched and I too was pushed a bit off the line. I lost a few positions, so instead of gaining I lost some at the start. After that I tried to find my rhythm, while in front of me there was a big fight. Following the bikes in front of you is a little different from riding alone, so I had to figure out where to break away and adapt. I was trying to figure out how to do it, in the end I tried to pass Oliveira, but it wasn't easy. He fought hard. We even touched, but Zarco was getting closer. So I decided not to disturb him too much to try and stay 6th until the end."
Do you think you learned something today?
"The tires changed a lot in the race compared to free practice and this is something I learned today. As a team we can be happy, we placed three bikes in the top six and I think it's one of the best results for KTM".
Is it true to say that with today's MotoGP bikes it's easy to go over the limit in the Sprint Race?
"I think it's much easier to make mistakes, because maybe you try to push beyond what you should. In the meantime, then you always have to watch your back, because everyone tries to attack, everyone is aggressive. What I mean is that from the outside it's difficult to understand what happens on the track when you watch them on TV. But when you're on the bike, I can tell that the riders have a really tough job to do."
Many car drivers in history have retired and then after one race, they decided to come back. Could this happen to you too?
"Yes, but car races aren't the same as motorbike races! No, I'm fine like this, I'm happy. I'm having fun with what I do and it's nice to see our bikes so strong today. I was sixth, but I was close, I saw Miller and Binder fighting for the win. Two KTMs on the podium, me close... it was a real reward for my work".
How much is it different to ride alone in tests and to compete in a race?
"Everything is different in general. When you ride alone you have a certain type of feeling in the saddle. When you're in a group everything is more dynamic, everything moves quickly. You have to set up differently, you have to know how to adapt to the conditions, accept more compromises with the bike. Alone you can be very fast, but in the race it's different. This is a very important experience for me".
Do you think today's aerodynamics are really that crucial?
"The winglets were already there when I was at the end of my racing career, but now everything is different. Even when you're slipstreaming, everything changes. It seems to be two different worlds when you're slipstreaming and when you're not. This is something important to understand. The other bikes have a lot of influence on how your bike behaves".
In KTM there are ex-Honda men, others ex-Ducati. Do you feel their contribution to the growth of KTM?
"Obviously everyone here is trying to bring all their knowledge to the group. The guys who were in Honda are doing it, those who were in Ducati, those who are in Austria. You must not forget that we are the only ones to race with a different chassis and with different suspension from everyone else. And today I would say that it was a very good day for us. I would say that KTM is a mix of very different ideas that come together."