KTM won the Czech Grand Prix with Brad Binder, while Miguel Oliveira took his Tech3-run RC16 to the top of the rostrum in the Styrian GP in Austria while Espargaro was third.
But the San Marino GP marked the first round in 2020 where the KTM wasn’t a threat for the podium, with Espargaro 12 seconds from the win in 10th ahead of Oliveira and Binder.
Following the test on the Tuesday afterwards, KTM took a step forward and Espargaro ran in the podium battle all race before being passed by Suzuki’s Joan Mir and Petronas SRT’s Fabio Quartararo late on – though a penalty for the latter promoted the KTM to third.
Espargaro called the leap forward KTM made between the two Misano races “shocking”.
“This podium for us is [worth] more than a victory in Austria, because in Austria everything was good, everything was clear, the bike was performing well in all the sessions, warm-up, race,” he said.
“It’s not easy to fight against these guys, but when the bike is working so well, you can expect these [podium] results.
“But when you arrive like last weekend 12 seconds from first, and today we arrived four or five seconds to Maverick [Vinales], who’s been very fast, and we lost this second just at the end of the race because the tyre was gone, I realise how shocking this result is and how much we needed to the…