KTM Heads into Moto GP with both Tech 3 Riders, Smith, and Espargaro

What was only a feeble rumor a week ago or so, but now it's a reality: Pol, the younger of the Espargaro brothers confirmed that he will join his current teammate at Tech 3, Bradley Smith, at KTM at the end of the 2016 championship.
Pol Espargaro with KTM from 2017 1 photo
After Bradley Smith announced that he would become a KTM factory rider after the 2016 season at Monster Yamaha Tech 3, house Mattighoffen revealed that they were considering Pol Espargaro as one of the options that could fill the second factory seat.

Seeing KTM "stealing" both riders from Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 team sounded almost too crazy to believe, but it appears that Pit Beirer and Dani Pedrosa's former crew chief Mike Leitner aren't afraid to take chances.

Smith and Pol Espargaro may not seem like the top guns to fill two factory seats in the premier class, but these fellows are surely among the best of the rest. If you ask us, we'd almost bet that KTM talked to Iannone, too, because he IS one of the riders that come next to the aliens.

One of the reasons why the Austrians did not sign him might be the slight hurry to secure his seat for 2017 and beyond, and maybe the lack of patience needed to have things sorted out. Anyway, this is all a matter of the past now, as KTM is heading back into MotoGP with to riders who know how things roll in the best satellite team of the last years.

Pol Espargaro:

"I am going to sign with KTM for the next two years and join the new adventure with them. New team, new bike in MotoGP. I saw the opportunity to try something different and to try and be with these guys in the future. Working together with KTM will be crazy hard, but I’m ready to work. They also showed me they’re ready to work. We have an agreement for two years and I want to thank Yamaha, Herve and Lin as they gave me the chance to grow in MotoGP and this is my dream come true. I have to say thanks and also to Ducati and Avintia because they showed a lot of interest too but we couldn’t go that way. Happy to face this adventure with KTM and finish this year well."

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director:

We’re more than happy that we’re now able to sign Pol Espargaro as a young rider of form and with MotoGP experience for this dynamic project. Both Pol and Bradley are well suited to KTM. Also in Mika Kallio we have an extremely motivated and competent test rider within the structure. We can grow together and continue to develop in all aspects. Now we hope for good conditions for the further tests and extend wishes to everyone for a successful rest of the season 2016.

Will KTM's 270+ hp machine and Mattighofen's two new riders make Herve Poncharal, Yamaha, and Lin Jarvis jealous for not trying more with Smith and Espargaro? It's a 2017 thing, for sure.

Aleix Espargaro is not sure about his future at Suzuki

Present at the press conference, too, Pol's elder brother Aleix looked a bit abash, if not downright sad. He was not at all shy to speak about how he feels that he was not wanted at Suzuki any longer, despite the fact that things are finally starting to look well, and he was sixth in the MotoGP championship.

Questions from the floor repeatedly tried to make him disclose his plans for the future, but nothing came out. As Aleix himself said more than once, it's not about being mad at Suzuki, but rather disappointed to see that he was "not as important at Suzuki" as he thought.

Aleix also admits that, after Mugello, he started looking for options, and he's not discarding a ride with Aprilia next year. However, it appears that the elder Espargaro is nowhere near decided which way to go, as he mentions having received attractive offers from World Superbike teams, albeit no names were mentioned.
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