Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro had a MotoGP race to forget in Portimao as ‘ghosts’ of last season returned to plague his progress.
With just a matter of days between the Portuguese GP and his first home race of the season at Circuito de Jerez - Angel Nieto, Espargaro and the HRC collective have their work cut out to improve and banish the demons of old in favour of their preseason promise.
“The best thing to do after a hard race is to go racing again, so I am happy that we arrive straight away in Jerez,” the Spaniard said from home soil as the MotoGP paddock rolled into Andalucia. "We need to understand what our situation is in Jerez and work to overcome it, to show the speed we had before the start of the year.
We are not satisfied and surely I think overall Honda is not satisfied,” he said of the RC213V’s performance last weekend as Marc and Alex Marquez completed the rollercoaster race in sixth and seventh with Espargaro two places back in ninth. “We finished the race very close to each other and the result is that we were very, very slow.
“We were having problems that we thought we solved in the preseason as we were very, very fast but like all ghosts, they are coming back and we do not understand the situation so much. It's time to try to understand, to figure out why this is happening and just turn toward the situation and Jerez is a good place to start.
“We are turning much, much less than the others,” he continued, elaborating on last Sunday’s issues. “We are locking the rear in the entry of the corners and we are not able to stop the bike in the correct place to make the bike turn. Then on the acceleration we are struggling because we do not have drive grip. So it's kind of a general problem that we had last year that over the year we start to improve but with the new bike we make a huge step up.
“I don't know why this is coming back and we are not understanding exactly what's happening and what's going on so it's a very strange and weird feeling, what we have now riding the bike. We, all riders more or less agree, we have some ideas for Jerez to change the situation but it's not easy and we don't know if they are going to work.
“There is one thing that we all have in mind, is work harder than the others to just try to turn the situation, because as you all could see we were slower than last year. We are slow actually, very slow. Doesn't matter the tyre we use on the rear - Marc start with a medium, Alex and myself with a hard and we all finish at about three-tenths from each other. So situation is tricky but this is MotoGP and we have amazing good engineers and electronics guys in the pit box as well as riders and we're gonna all together try to turn the situation
“It’s great to come back to Spain and hopefully on Sunday we will be racing in front of crowds like before, because this is something that makes Jerez really special. Let’s work hard this weekend and show what we can do, I have full faith in my team and HRC to unlock our potential.”