Still without six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez who surprisingly remains the highest placed Honda rider in the championship despite missing six races so far this season, Honda are in desperate need of improvements

Espargaro’s hot start to the year in Qatar has fizzled out dramatically, while Takaaki Nakagami and Alex Marquez have again suffered disappointing campaigns at LCR. 

Heading to a track where he so nearly clinched his maiden MotoGP win, Espargaro claims Honda is doing its best to return to the front of MotoGP, which hasn’t been the case consistently since Marquez won his sixth premier class title in 2019.

"Races in Austria always seem to be very dramatic but it is always a nice weekend," said Espargaro ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. 

"It’s a very particular layout with a lot of very heavy braking, very stop and go and only a few corners. Let’s see how we perform this weekend, the Repsol Honda Team and HRC are working a lot to improve our situation. 

"I am interested to see how the new chicane feels, the run to the top of the hill was very fast so I think this will be quite different. 

"Our objective is to put together a smooth weekend and qualify better, that’s key." 

Short tracks, closer racing - Stefan Bradl

A mainstay on the MotoGP calendar since 2016, the Red Bull Ring has had a tendency to provide epic racing including classic last-lap battles between Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso, Marquez vs Dovisioso on two occasions - both of which went the way of the Italian - while other battles including Marquez against Lorenzo and Espargaro vs Miller stole the show. 

That's without mentioning Brad Binder's heroic effort last season which saw him complete the finl few laps with slick tyres on an incresingly wet track in order to take an unlikely victory.

One of the shortest tracks on the calendar, yet the fastest due to its three long straights, overtaking shouldn’t be a problem for many of the riders. 

"It’s nice to race in Austria again," added HRC test rider Bradl. "The fans always give me a very warm welcome. I have some good experience at the track over the last few years so it won’t be like in Silverstone where I had to remember the track. 

"With shorter tracks like this, the gaps in MotoGP get even smaller so you really have to work on finding every single tenth because it can make a big difference in practice and for the grid."

Although Marquez came very close on several occasions to winning the Austrian MotoGP, Honda remains without a win in Spielberg as only Ducati and KTM have enjoyed success.