The 2013 Moto2 world champion made a shock change from KTM to the manufacturing unit Honda squad for 2021, however discovered the transition immensely tough.
With COVID-19 forcing pre-season testing to be minimize down to only 5 days in Qatar earlier than the primary two races of the yr at Losail, Espargaro was left enjoying catch-up for many of the marketing campaign.
The 2021 Honda lacked rear grip, which precipitated points for its riders exiting corners in addition to into them – Espargaro unable to utilise his regular braking model of utilizing the rear brake consequently.
A number of post-race assessments throughout the season allowed him to make some headway, with Espargaro scoring pole at Silverstone and claiming his best-ever MotoGP results of second on the Emilia Romagna GP to finish Honda’s first 1-2 behind Marc Marquez since 2017.
Reflecting on his first season as a Honda rider, Espargaro admits he began it actually on the again foot, however felt tangible progress had been made on the bike on the run in to the tip of the yr.
“Mainly, the expertise in MotoGP is half of the way in which – it is super-important,” Espargaro mentioned.
“And particularly when you find yourself altering bikes, the extent now in MotoGP is implausible, it is tremendous, tremendous excessive.
“So, you haven’t any time to say you might be adapting, or you haven’t any time to check, you haven’t a lot testing now.
“We went into the primary race in Qatar not prepared, really, with just a few a laps in Qatar [testing] and some laps on the bike.
“So, undoubtedly I used to be not prepared. Then I wanted to find easy methods to experience the bike throughout the race weekends, which could be very, very tough as a result of you’ve gotten all of the strain, you need to carry out nicely, you’ve gotten crashes, you haven’t any time to work on the bike.
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Crew
Photograph by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
“So, we wanted to make use of the small assessments as a vital check for us, and thru the yr these assessments – particularly from the center of the yr to the tip – we actually improved the bike, we actually improved our set-up and I began to really feel a lot better on the bike.
“Certain, if we may have this expertise at first of the yr, like if the race in Portimao [the Algarve GP] was the primary race, the yr would have been a lot simpler and completely different.
“However ultimately it’s what it’s, we will not return in time. We have to take it.
“What was good is we ended with a pole place and a podium, we fought for high 5 positions within the final races and that is one thing nice.”
Espargaro ended the yr 12th within the standings on 100 factors – 42 adrift of Marc Marquez, who missed 4 races by means of damage and crashed out of 4 others.
After the two-day post-season Jerez check, Espargaro – who was nonetheless battered from a violent crash which dominated him out of the Valencia finale – was optimistic in regards to the steps Honda had taken with its 2022 bike, noting that the up to date RC213V had regained that lacking rear grip.