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Qatar MotoGP Test: Pol expects ‘great things’ after race simulation

“I expect qualifying to be tricky, but on Sunday I am sure we will be able to do great things" - Pol Espargaro.
Pol Espargaro left the final MotoGP pre-season test in Qatar eleventh fastest in terms of best lap time over the three nights.

But that masked the very impressive pace shown by the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider during a race simulation.

Like factory Yamaha test leader Jorge Lorenzo, Espargaro completed 17 successive flying laps on Friday without pitting. For both, it was their first long run on the new Michelin tyres and unified ECU software.

While Lorenzo was ultimately able to complete 21 flying laps (a full race, when excluding the first standing-start lap), Espargaro was interrupted after 17 laps by a brief red flag period.

However, the former Moto2 champion revealed “when I pitted, we didn't touch the bike at all” and he then went on to complete four more fast laps.

Adding together their respective lap times during those runs allows a pseudo 'race time' to be calculated. This is how Espargaro faired relative to Lorenzo:

Pol Espargaro: Qatar race simulation
Difference to Lorenzo after 17 laps: +3.537sec
Difference to Lorenzo after 21 laps: +3.980sec

To put that into perspective, Espargaro finished 10-seconds behind Lorenzo in last year's Qatar race, even though the #99 was slowed by vision problems caused by a helmet issue in the closing stages. Lorenzo crossed the line in fourth, 2.7s from victory, with Espargaro ninth.

The only other rider to complete more than 14 successive flying laps on Friday was factory Ducati star Andrea Iannone, with 17. Iannone's 11th lap was very slow (+7s) after which his times seesawed up and down. Iannone confirmed "the long-run didn't go the way I expected."

Either way, this is how Espargaro faired relative to the Italian, with and without the slow lap. Iannone finished third, 2.250s from victory, in the 2015 race.

Pol Espargaro: Qatar race simulation
Difference to Iannone after 17 laps: -6.912sec
Difference to Iannone 17 laps (without slow lap*): -0.348sec
(*Slow lap replaced by Iannone's average of 1m 56.477s over other 16 laps.)

“Here, we were still not particularly strong on a single lap, but the most important thing is that I was one of the few riders who ran a race simulation and our rhythm was very strong,” Espargaro confirmed.

“We were also able to finalise our tyre choice and the tyre that I used was good. In fact, we rode two laps more than race distance [when including out and in laps].

“The only inconvenience of the simulation was the interruption because of the red flag. However, when I pitted, we didn't touch the bike at all and when I went out again, I was able to improve my time.”

Indeed, Espargaro ended the long run by setting his best lap time of the night!

“I rode my fastest lap after having covered the full distance which is something that I was never able to do with Bridgestone tyres, but with Michelin, I can.

“Therefore, I feel very comfortable and I am excited to start the season here in Qatar. Honestly, I expect the qualifying to be tricky for us, but on Sunday I am sure we will be able to do great things."

Pol Espargaro's race simulation:

1. 1m 56.903
2. 1m 56.752
3. 1m 57.015
4. 1m 56.917
5. 1m 56.695
6. 1m 56.688
7. 1m 56.652
8. 1m 56.830
9. 1m 56.404
10. 1m 56.250
11. 1m 56.318
12. 1m 56.059
13. 1m 56.211
14. 1m 55.925
15. 1m 56.122
16. 1m 55.980
17. 1m 56.044
Red flag
18. 1m 56.714
19. 1m 56.240
20. 1m 55.968
21. 1m 55.882

Tagged as: Yamaha , Espargaro

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March 05, 2016 11:22 PM

GlazingVegas: Pol must be under some big pressure. This is a year where a lot of contracts are up, there are some talented youngsters who would love to snatch that M1 away from him. He's gonna have to dig deep and really put up some good results if he even wants to keep the tech3 seat. BS stepped up bigtime last year and comprehensively outperformed Pol. If it happens again its going to be hard for Yamaha to justify re-signing him. I do believe he has the talent. But maybe he just doesn't have the confidence with the bike.
Both Pol and Smith are 1-1, I'm sure one or both won't remain after this season if they don't perform. With the older Ducatis and Suzuki stepping up the game the battle for 6th place is going to be very hard. Hopefully tech3 can finish the year within the top 10. :)

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