Espargaro: ‘Spinning on the edge kills me’, catching Bagnaia ‘unbelievable’...

Pol Espargaro enjoyed a much-needed return to form at Phillip Island after claiming third place on combined practice times during Friday at the Australian MotoGP.
Pol Espargaro, Honda MotoGP Phillip Island
Pol Espargaro, Honda MotoGP Phillip Island

The Repsol Honda rider, who is without a top ten finish in MotoGP since round five of the season at Portimao, secured P3 behind Johann Zarco and Marco Bezzecchi, thanks to an impressive time attack run late on in FP2.

In fact, Espargaro was quicker than all three of the main title contenders as he began to catch regular pole sitter in 2022, Francesco Bagnaia, during his fastest lap.

After narrowly missing out on the top ten in FP1, Espargaro came within half a tenth of taking top spot in the afternoon, while also getting the better of team-mate Marc Marquez

"I’m surprised [at my pace] as well!" said Espargaro. "I love this place and I enjoy riding this place. Already when I went out this morning I had five or six riders in front and it was very easy for me to overtake from the first laps because they were just trying to learn the track but for me everything comes quite natural here and also the experience. 

"The bike feels good here and our bike is quite agile. When the wind is blowing our bike reacts quite good. Also, when the temperature is quite low we suffer a little bit less with rear grip, especially on the edge. 

"We can’t [afford to] overheat the edge of the tyres by spinning on the edge as this kills me. This is the problem I’ve had all year and as soon as I don’t have it I feel much better. 

"Here today, the rear was working sweet and even with the medium - we used a pre-heated one and it was not too bad. 

"I could do a good rhythm and then in the time attack I felt very good. I was catching Pecco in the time attack which is unbelievable for me. I’m happy overall."

Espargaro hopes windy conditions persist as ‘super-sensitive’ MotoGP riders could struggle

While the big challenge for Honda and Espargaro will be to keep this level of performance going throughout the weekend, one factor that could play a role in the Spaniard doing just that is the ferocious wind at Phillip Island.

Pol Espargaro, MotoGP, Australian MotoGP, 14 October
Pol Espargaro, MotoGP, Australian MotoGP, 14 October

Saturday is expected to be slightly less windy for the riders, however, Espargaro is confident that he won’t be one of those affected should it be as strong as it was on day-one. 

Espargaro added: "I like these kinds of conditions where everything is wild because these super-sensitive riders that like everything perfect and that the bike is perfect every lap, braking in the same place - these guys struggle quite a lot. 

"The best bikes become less good in those conditions because too much in one lap can be tricky and the rider needs to work a lot. In that way I really like to ride."

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