Espargaro says Honda MotoGP troubles mirror early KTM years

Pol Espargaro says his difficult first season with Honda in MotoGP mirrors the early years of his stint with KTM when the manufacturer stepped into the premier class.

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team, crash

Honda currently sits fifth out six in the constructors’ standings after seven races in 2021 as all of its riders have struggled for form on the tricky RC213V.

After a promising five days of testing in Qatar and displaying podium pace in both Losail races, Espargaro’s maiden Honda season has failed to deliver on that early promise. The Spaniard’s best result so far is eighth, coming in the Qatar and French Grands Prix.

Crashing out of last weekend’s Catalan GP, Espargaro admits his morale is low but is convinced he can transform Honda fortunes just as he did at KTM.

“Well, no my morale was already low before here,” Espargaro said.

“I’ve been in this situation before with KTM in the first years, having a lot of problems and with not the best bike, and we turned the situation around. I have a feeling we’re going to turn around the situation.

“I don’t know when or if it’s going to start from tomorrow on, because I think to understand we need big parts to make it and I think still we are studying how to manage.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team, Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team, Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team, Iker Lecuona, Red Bull KTM Tech 3

Photo by: MotoGP

“But in one stage for sure we are going to turn it, the only question is when.”

Team-mate Marc Marquez also crashed out of the Catalan GP following the “best seven laps of the year” as he ran in the podium positions.

Marquez explains the main issue with the 2021 RC213V stems from a lack of rear grip, which is making for poor acceleration but is also causing problems under braking too.

“Basically, the thing is that it’s easy to say it but difficult to gain and to find exactly the way to improve,” Marquez said.

“But it’s true we have a problem, which is in the acceleration side we cannot get the grip and in the entry we cannot stop the bike because the rear we don’t have the grip also.

“It’s two different problems in two different areas, but I think it’s going on the same way the solution.

“In the stopping we are braking late, but when we stop with a lot of banking these things happen like me and Pol today [crashes].

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

“To understand and give, you will slow down, you will not crash. But then another point is we’re losing a lot on acceleration side because we don’t get the grip, if you lose in acceleration side you lose all the straight.

“All these things don’t help over race distance.”

Should Honda fail to score a podium in 2021 it will gain concessions for next season, permitting it to in-season engine development and private testing with its race riders.

Marquez doesn’t believe Honda will get that far though as he is convinced it will score a podium, but Espargaro conceded HRC would welcome those benefits right now.

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