Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaró stormed the Mandalika standings on Friday half a second faster than the next best MotoGP rider.
Playing down his leading effort as the opening day of testing on Lombok Island in Indonesia concluded, Espargaró was aware that improving conditions will bring much faster times over the remaining two days but was pleased and positive about the work done with his RC213V so far.
“Yeah, it’s important to start good but it’s just the beginning,” he said of his session topping performance. “Sure we are happy with the result. Sure the bike is working decent here, is fast. Is quick in one lap but also is quick in the race pace but just the beginning.
“Just the first day, times are gonna improve a lot tomorrow, after tomorrow more as well. If the weather is not changing as today, which is going to be thankfully much better. But you know, is just the beginning.
“The problem is that you don’t know until you put the tyre and you go for it,” Espargaró continued, on the margin for improvement at the Pertamina Street Circuit. “Because the track is improving every two hours, one hour and a half. After the track gets a little bit more rubber - it was very, very dirty at the beginning of the day - through the day the track was improving a lot and is difficult to predict how the track is going to feel, which lap time is going to come. Every time you do a Time Attack you get surprised because it comes better than your expect. It’s just a matter to clean the track, that’s why tomorrow the track is going to be better and after tomorrow better so the lap times are going to go down.”
Despite the tricky debut conditions, the Spaniard was quick to sing the praises of the MotoGP calendar’s newest location.
“It’s pretty nice,” Espargaró said of the 4.3km track layout. “I really like it. It’s quite fast so it makes the lap very, very short. You know, very fast. We are running in 1’30s, I went 1’32. So sure when the track improves we can be very close to the ‘29s. Under the 1’30 the track is pretty fast and it is not so short so it means that the track speed is quite high.
“There is sectors where the bike is very slow, but there is also some sectors like sector two, sector three they are pretty fast. It has a little bit of everything, which is nice.”