Pol Espargaro starts his Repsol Honda career with a fourth-row start in today’s Qatar MotoGP but says he is still learning how to ride the RC213V fast.
Track temperatures pushed 50°C, as the Spaniard worked through his Free Practice 3 programme but the temperatures meant there were no changes on the combined times. As on Friday, the conditions would steadily improve throughout the evening.
As a result, Espargaro earned direct passage to Q2 and accomplished the first goal of his opening weekend with the Repsol team but Saturday overall proved to be a more complicated day for the 29-year-old as he continued to familiarise himself with the Honda.
Showing improvements during his final run in Q2, Espargaro will line up on the fourth row of Sunday’s grid for his first race in HRC colours after his 1’53.90 lap placed him 12th overall.
“At the end our feeling was good but during the day we were looking for solutions, this is can happen when you are still new to a bike,” Espargaro explained. “FP4 was not a good session and we were working on stopping the bike better.
In Q2, on the second tyre I changed something and everything started to work better and I did a 53.9. I’ve been the second Honda today in the fast lap times but even then, still far from Taka, he did a good time, and we should be able to do that. I was not fast enough today.
“The good point is that we improved it for the last run, and I did this lap two in a row, with the exactly same lap time with one milliseconds of difference.
“I’m learning and sometimes I want to over push to make the lap time” the spaniard continued. “I make mistakes and these make me nervous, then I make another mistake and then I push too much. It’s something that is my problem and I need to solve them.
“I’m over pushing the front. If you could see the third run on the qualifying, I went wide, I was locking the front like crazy, and this is not the way to be fast, I need to be a little bit more calm, especially tomorrow, on the first lap with full fuel tank.
“Today, for me was not a good day. I think we should be in 53 mid, 53 low as the first lap is 52.7. I feel I’m able to make it with the last run, but it was too late. So, still learning how to be fast. Sometimes it happens when you make so much laps in one place, with trying different things and too much overthinking, you lose the way and I did it today, so hopefully tomorrow is going to be a better one.
“We reset, tomorrow we go again no matter what and we fight. I think we can be there in the race. If I can manage the first laps in a good way I think we’re going to be in an okay position. I feel ready for a good race. We need to have a good warm up, but I have the feeling it will be a good race and I am going to go for it.”