The Dutch MotoGP promised much for Pol Espargaro with the rookie setting the pace in opening practice and strong for much of the weekend.

However the fickle Dutch weather caught him out in qualifying and in the race, when the reigning Moto2 world champion was forced to learn how to ride a MotoGP bike in the wet for the first time.

The race got off to a bad start when the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider joined Valentino Rossi in an ill-fated decision to fit slicks on the grid, only to make a last minute change to wets when rain returned on the sighting lap leaving him at the back of the pack.

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The young Spaniard elevated himself up to 14th position by the end of the first lap before changing bikes on lap seven due to the drying track. Rejoining the race, Espargaro was in twelfth place when he fell on lap 15 of 26.

Espargaro attempted to carry on after entering the pits again to swap bikes, before retiring on lap 18.

"It was a difficult day," admitted Espargaro. "This morning in the dry we were as fast as we had been all weekend and been in the top three but the rain came for the race and that was a disaster."

"I think that we did everything the wrong way, when everyone was on dry tyres we were on wets and when everyone was on wets we were on drys!" he said. "Our option to copy Valentino on the grid wasn't bad because at that moment the track was drying, but just before the start it began to rain a bit more so it was too risky."

The learning curve for a MotoGP rider in the wet is extremely steep and for Espargaro it was overwhelming in the early stages but it provided an important lesson in his development as a premier class rider.

"I'd never ridden this bike in wet conditions and then the track was drying so it wasn't fully raining and the track was changing so I was changing the maps on the bike," he said.

"Everything was too difficult to understand for me and it was difficult to ride. We had been really strong here and I think this was our best weekend so far this season so I'll think about the next race.

"I learned a lot today and sometimes when you learn the result can be good, like at Le Mans, and then sometimes you learn and the result is not good. Normally you learn more when the result isn't as good and today we learned that we need to take more of our decisions and that we need to ride a little bit differently in the wet and that we need to make decisions earlier and faster.

"That will come with experience and today we'll take a lot of experience.

"We did the [bike] change well and it's not that difficult to change bikes but I think that we did it fast but maybe with more experience I'll get more confidence to stop earlier and change tyres earlier. Today I did everything late and if I had stopped earlier today I could have had a different race."