Espargaro: Honda MotoGP bike now 'safer' to ride

Pol Espargaro says Honda has made an "amazing" step between MotoGP's last visit to Portugal in April and this weekend's Algarve Grand Prix, noting how the bike is safer.

Espargaro: Honda MotoGP bike now 'safer' to ride

Honda has endured a tough 2021 campaign despite the fact it has won three races courtesy of Marc Marquez – who is absent from this weekend's Algarve GP due to a concussion – and scored its first 1-2 since 2017 last time out at Misano.

In general, the 2021 Honda has suffered with a lack of rear grip, which has caused problems on acceleration, braking and turning.

Having qualified 14th and crashed out of the Portuguese GP in April, Espargaro was much stronger on MotoGP's return to the Portimao track on Friday for the Algarve GP, ending the day fifth overall and 0.402 seconds off the pace.

He explained that despite the track's grip levels not being great on Friday, the bike had improved a lot since April, most notably in terms of "safety".

"Well, actually the conditions on the track were not amazingly good," Espargaro explained.

"The grip is not super nice and I am struggling quite a lot with it, and we are just trying to set up the bike in a good way to try to be more competitive.

"But we have made an amazing step from the first time we have been here, especially about safety because I crashed here quite badly [in April], also Alex [Marquez] crashed here.

"We were not performing very good and looks like at the moment, even if I'm not super happy with the feelings, because I feel like we are not taking 100% the performance of the tyres.

"Some guys are using the hard rear and for us I think it's something very tricky, close to impossible. We are not generating enough heat.

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

"That's why we struggle with the medium and the hard, even the soft. Even like that, the lap time was decent, the position was not too bad.

"But thinking about tomorrow, we need to improve and we have to qualify directly [into Q2], it's not going to be easy."

Espargaro notes Honda's 1-2 at Misano has given the team "an incredible boost" heading into this weekend, while noting that the rear floating issue which plagued the start of his year was "minimal" on Friday.

"We are a little bit faster, that's for sure," he added. "The confidence is better after the result we did in Misano, that also gave us an incredible boost and a lot of trust that we can do it as well.

"Mainly [before] we were struggling with the rear grip, I crashed super-badly, I remember also Alex crashed super-badly.

"We were struggling a lot with the rear floating especially on the entry to the corners at the beginning of the year, and also we were having a lot of problems generating grip on the rear tyre.

"Today, we have this problem but it's minimal, and this helps us on traction area, on turning and corner speed."

shares
comments

Related video

Quartararo not "obsessed” with Bagnaia fight in Algarve MotoGP
Previous article

Quartararo not "obsessed” with Bagnaia fight in Algarve MotoGP

Next article

MotoGP Algarve Grand Prix qualifying - Start time, how to watch & more

MotoGP Algarve Grand Prix qualifying - Start time, how to watch & more
Load comments
Why a difficult 2021 hasn't broken one Honda MotoGP ace's resolve Plus

Why a difficult 2021 hasn't broken one Honda MotoGP ace's resolve

Pol Espargaro’s switch to Honda for 2021 was one of MotoGP’s biggest rider market shocks. But a difficult bike coupled with various external factors led to a difficult first campaign. As a critical 2022 campaign for both Espargaro and Honda looms, his 2021 experience hasn’t dented his long-held resolve

MotoGP
Jan 17, 2022
The Drive to Survive mistakes MotoGP must avoid in 2022 Plus

The Drive to Survive mistakes MotoGP must avoid in 2022

OPINION: MotoGP will get its own Drive to Survive-style series in 2022, airing on Amazon Prime Video. It’s a much-needed grab at the mainstream for MotoGP, but a paradigm shift in the series highlighted by one of its leading stars must be embraced and not overshadowed by a desire to replicate DTS’s popcorn drama

MotoGP
Jan 10, 2022
Why KTM's latest young outcast is a cautionary tale for MotoGP Plus

Why KTM's latest young outcast is a cautionary tale for MotoGP

Iker Lecuona’s absence from the 2022 MotoGP grid after losing his KTM ride will likely pass most onlookers by. But after just 30 race starts in a MotoGP move he was sucked into by circumstance, the World Superbike-bound 21-year-old's story should act as a warning to KTM - and MotoGP as a whole - in regards to its future stars

MotoGP
Jan 4, 2022
How Ducati's expanded roster will threaten MotoGP's balance in 2022 Plus

How Ducati's expanded roster will threaten MotoGP's balance in 2022

That Ducati will compete with eight prototypes in MotoGP this year is nothing new, having already done so between 2016 and 2018. But the involvement and coverage of the Borgo Panigale company in its alliances is now much greater than in past years, which could have the effect of unbalancing the premier class

MotoGP
Jan 3, 2022
Ranking the top 10 MotoGP riders of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 MotoGP riders of 2021

Eight different riders won races across an ultra-competitive 2021 MotoGP season. Although Fabio Quartararo wrapped up the title with two rounds to go, the Yamaha rider had strong competition from the revitalised Ducati factory team and the world championship's returning king. Autosport picks out the year's 10 best riders

MotoGP
Dec 23, 2021
How Quartararo cast aside prior doubts to become MotoGP's new king Plus

How Quartararo cast aside prior doubts to become MotoGP's new king

Doubts were cast over Yamaha’s French recruit after his disastrous end to the 2020 MotoGP season with Petronas SRT, but Fabio Quartararo answered them convincingly in 2021 to claim a MotoGP title that exhibited both his devastating speed and mental strength

MotoGP
Dec 7, 2021
The Rossi-less future MotoGP must now navigate Plus

The Rossi-less future MotoGP must now navigate

Motorcycle racing's greatest showman has left the stage, as Valentino Rossi calls time on his remarkable career on two wheels. But in his successors, all of whom were inspired by 'the Doctor', grand prix racing has vibrant new acts to keep us hooked

MotoGP
Dec 4, 2021
Valentino Rossi’s 10 greatest MotoGP races Plus

Valentino Rossi’s 10 greatest MotoGP races

As the Italian legend finally bows out and retires from MotoGP, it marks the end of one of the most incredible careers in motorsport history. Here is Autosport’s pick of his best rides and the stories behind them

MotoGP
Dec 3, 2021