The Tech3 GASGAS rider returned at the British MotoGP at Silverstone having been sidelined since the opening Friday of the 2023 season when he crashed badly in Portimao.
After months recovering, Espargaro admitted the challenges of climbing back onto a MotoGP bike last Friday, his first session since the crash.
“It was a mix of feelings. I had so much fun. But also, I was so stressed,” he said.
“[Friday] morning, mentally I was not ready. Everything was coming way too fast.
“I had a wheelie, the braking, different tyres…
“I took the soft tyre for many laps just to understand the bike.
“For sure, I want more. It’s a matter of passion. But I don’t want to crash.”
Did he have bad memories of his last time in a MotoGP session, when he crashed in Portimao?
“Yes, especially in the out-lap. The out-lap was killing,” he said.
“I was a little bit afraid. I took it more carefully than normal, especially with a hard rear tyre.
“We saw a huge crash of Marco Bezzecchi - he was just in front of me and it was a reminder to be careful, that this can happen to me as well.
“I took it easy out of the pit box. Then the first lap I pushed more. Then I was going for it.
“I was super-stressed.”
Espargaro suffered a broken jaw plus serious back and rib injuries.
Despite months of rehab, he felt a lack of fitness when handling the unrivalled power of a MotoGP machine.
“This is another thing, you can be fit in the mirror, good for pictures in the summer, but when you jump on these bikes you realise how hard everything is!
“I am missing a lot of power.
“Especially at high speeds and changing directions. That is when you feel that you are not fit enough, in the chest.
“Everything needs to be improved.
“I have been riding other bikes but they are nothing like MotoGP bikes! It will come.”
Espargaro finished 16th in the sprint race at Silverstone (his first time competing in that format).
He then came 12th in the grand prix, a place behind his teammate Augusto Fernandez.