Repsol Honda heads for the Algarve off the back of its first double podium in five seasons but without Marc Marquez in the line up.
Pol Espargaro is riding the wave of his best result to date - both aboard the Honda RC213V and in the premier class as a whole - running second to his team leader last time out in Misano. This weekend, however, will see him partnered with Stefan Bradl, as the eight-time world champion recovers from concussion sustained in training.
Espargaro arrives in the Algarve with renewed confidence after his first HRC podium, a well needed reward for an at-times arduous 2021 season. April’s visit to Portugal left the number 44 frustrated with a technical issue, so a second chance is welcomed, and with two points separating him from the world championship top 10, he is determined to continue the progression.
“We had a great weekend in Misano and we were able to show what we can do on the Honda but now we have a new challenge,” Espargaro said ahead of round 17. “Having already raced in Portugal this year will be good, as we already have knowledge of the track but I think it could be a bit difficult this weekend compared to Misano.
“Conditions will be different compared to the last time here so we have to understand what adjustments we will need. The motivation is so high to push in these final rounds and reward the team again. I want to wish Marc a speedy recovery,” he concluded.
Honda HRC Test Rider Stefan Bradl will step in once again for the injured Marquez, for his fifth MotoGP race of 2021. The German is feeling confident having finished in the points in every appearance so far this season, albeit 11th being his best result, and completed 2020’s trip on the rollercoaster in seventh.
“First of all I hope Marc is recovering well and he can be back on track soon,” Bradl commented. “I am looking forward to riding again as Portimao is an enjoyable circuit where we had a good result towards the end of 2020.
“It’s never easy to jump on the bike, but we have had a lot of good bike time this year between the races and testing.”