SportMotoGPPol Espargaró: "I didn't arrive prepared for my debut...

Pol Espargaró: "I didn't arrive prepared for my debut with Honda"

The 2013 Moto2 world champion made a surprise switch from KTM to the factory Honda team for 2021, but the transition proved tremendously difficult. COVID-19 forced pre-season testing to be reduced to just five days in Qatar before the first two races of the year at Losail, meaning Espargaró had to continue to adapt for most of the campaign.

The 2021 Honda RC213V did not have enough rear grip, causing problems for its riders both exiting and entering corners, so Polyccio was unable to use his normal style with the rear brake.

Several subsequent tests during the season allowed Espargaró to improve a bit, taking pole at Silverstone and achieving his best MotoGP result by finishing second at the Emilia Romagna GP, contributing to HRC ‘s first one-two finish alongside Marc Márquez since 2019.

Analyzing his first season as a Honda rider, the #44 admits that he started off on the wrong foot, but noticed a progression with the bike at the end of the year.

“Basically, experience in MotoGP is half the way, it’s super important,” said Espargaro. “And especially when you change bikes, the level now in MotoGP is fantastic, it’s super, super high. So you don’t have time to say you’re adapting, or you don’t have time to test, you don’t have as many tests now.” .

“We came into the first race in Qatar unprepared, actually, with a few laps in Qatar [test] on the bike. So I was definitely not ready. Then I had to understand how to ride the bike during the weekends. Grand Prix, which is very, very difficult because you have all the pressure, you want to perform well, you have crashes, you don’t have time to work on the bike”.

(Before reading on, click on the image to see the photos of Pol Espargaró’s 2021 season in MotoGP)

“So I had to use the few tests as a very important test for us, and throughout the year in these tests – especially from the middle of the year towards the end – we really improved the bike, we really improved our set-up and I started to feel much better on the bike”.

“For sure if we could have had this experience at the beginning of the year, if the Portimao race [the Algarve GP] had been the first, the year would have been much easier and different.”

“But in the end there is what there is, we can’t go back in time. We have to accept it.”

“The good thing is that we have finished with a pole and a podium, we have fought for the top five positions in the last few races and this is a big thing.”

Espargaró finished the year 12th in the standings with 100 points, 42 behind Márquez, who missed four races due to injury and crashed in another four.

After the two days of post-season testing in Jerez, Espargaró -who was still battered by the violent crash that left him out of the last race in Valencia- was positive about the steps that Honda has taken with its 2022 bike, noting that “The new RC213V has regained the rear grip that was missing.”

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