Qatar MotoGP test: Espargaro elated after Honda debut

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

On a day filled with debuts, perhaps one of the more eagerly awaited came in the form of Pol Espargaro aboard the Repsol Honda.

One of the first out of the garage as the lights went green, the grin was clear to see on the Spaniard’s face as he returned his RC213V to the garage for the first time.

Despite a selection of short runs across the day, Espargaro managed to complete 68 laps of the 5.4km layout, and max out his tyre allocation in the process. His closing best, a 1’55.878, saw him 17th at the completion of the seven-hour session, and 1.2 seconds behind his older brother, but as comfort and familiarity with his new steed were the day’s focus rather than times, the 29-year-old seemed more than pleased with his first outing in Repsol colours.

“I feel good. There was a lot of work and there will be a lot of work to feel the limits of the bike, but it was great to finally ride the Honda. Today was about getting comfortable on the bike and beginning to understand everything, I am happy with the laps we did. We kept it very simple today, but we made good progress.

“We were just checking the bike – the brakes, position on the bike. Not going through the electronics or big things like chassis or something like that, just trying to learn as much as possible.

“We didn’t know what we needed to change through the day, I wanted to be very fast [out of the garage] and use all the tyres we can use, because we have, not infinity tyres, but we have a number of tyres that we need to use throughout the two days now and then the three days next. Finally we could use all of them and I did more than 65 laps which is quite interesting and trying the bike, I just need to learn a little bit more where the limits of the bikes are. From that point on just make laps and learn.

“All the bikes are pretty different in this category so you need to get adapted plus all the riders are an amazing level so everyone is pushing through the limits. This is the problem of this year, just five days of test is not going to help me know the limits of the bike before the start of the race in Qatar but whatever happens we are ready to make it. It is going to cost a lot of swearing and a lot of hard work but I think the team is ready to make it.

“We are in the days, like I said, where the level is so high and I will need to push so much, maybe some crashes are going to come early on but we are ready to make it.

“Already I am excited to get back out there tomorrow and keep working but for now it’s time to go back to the hotel and start to look at the data to see where we can go better tomorrow. Front end feeling is what I need to understand the most at the moment, I can see this compared to Stefan but this will come with more laps. This is the same anytime you get on a new bike.

“I didn’t sleep so much and so good [before the debut] but I think tonight I’m going to sleep very good. Pretty tired after almost 70 laps so what I didn’t sleep yesterday I will sleep tonight!”

Picture: GeeBee Images