Pol Espargaro: Many Ducatis to protect Pecco, big chance

Pol Espargaro won’t be surprised if Francesco Bagnaia and Ducati wrap-up the 2022 MotoGP title at Sepang this weekend.
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP race, Australian MotoGP, 16 October
Francesco Bagnaia, MotoGP race, Australian MotoGP, 16 October

The Italian only took the world championship lead, for the first time, last Sunday in Phillip Island.

But his 14-point advantage over Fabio Quartararo is magnified by the strength of his machinery and, Espargaro believes, having seven other Desmosedicis to ‘surround’ and ‘protect’ him.

“Well, this is a place where Ducati have a big chance to win the world title,” Espargaro said ahead of the penultimate round.

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“First of all because we all know it's a top speed place, and then it seems that in the last races, Ducati all have worked finally in a way to get the title.

“Not just to win races, but also to get the title. With having Pecco in front and not breaking his balls so much. Which is normal, and I understand, and if I was the owner of a manufacturer, I would do exactly the same.

“So knowing that, Saturday [qualifying] is going to be very important here. I know that many Ducatis are going to be with Pecco, surrounding Pecco, and that it's a good way to protect him.

“So it's a nice place to do it.”

Pol Espargaro , Sepang MotoGP test, 5 February
Pol Espargaro , Sepang MotoGP test, 5 February

Pol Espargaro: Sepang test ‘was fantastic’

Espargaro starts his penultimate event for Repsol Honda just 16th in the world championship but returning to a track where he impressed in testing.

“Here I was one of the fastest in the test. In rhythm, I think I was one of the only ones doing a small long-run, so I did 12 laps more or less, and it was fantastic,” Espargaro said.

“It was very fast, consistent, and it was so nice. But you know, things have changed quite a lot since then, the feelings, the conditions, the results. So let's see how we approach this weekend and what we can get out of it.”

The Spaniard, who will return to KTM via the rebranded GASGAS Tech3 project after November’s Valencia finale, added:

“I've been struggling, sincerely, since some races after Qatar and I didn't get anything to improve my feelings. Just setup.

“With setup, you can improve a little, but when everyone is so fast, you need to get new parts to improve your feelings and to be faster. And since then, I didn't get anything new, so I don't think I'm going to get anything new in these next two races.”

Reminded that he had finished second in what was expected to be his final race for KTM in 2020, Espargaro replied:

"Yeah. It was a very, very different situation two years ago. Also looking at how Jack is ending [his career] in Ducati, he's getting the best to the end, getting full support from the factory until the end. This is sad, but this is what it is.

"I have a contract until Valencia. So I'm going to finish in the best way possible, trying to be as professional as possible, and that's it. It's my job at the end of the day."

Joan Mir will take over Espargaro’s Repsol Honda seat alongside Marc Marquez next season.

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