Unsurprisingly, the GASGAS Tech3 rider ranked Sunday’s inaugural Indian MotoGP as was “one of the hardest races” of his 18-year grand prix career.

Starting 20th, Espargaro leapt to twelfth during a strong opening lap, but the physical strain was apparent by mid-distance. But the Spaniard clung on to claim 13th at the chequered flag.

“I think that was one of the hardest races I have ever done,” he said. “It has been a really tough weekend and I’m not so happy with the result because I was not that fast.

“Anyway, we reached the end of the race and that was a target because I’m not in the kind of physical condition for these conditions yet. Looking at what I can do and where I can finish it is promising for the future."

Tech3 team manager Nicolas Goyon thanked Espargaro for his ‘huge effort’.

“Pol’s target was to finish the race and bring some points home and he achieved that but it was one of the most difficult weekends of his career for him physically,” Goyon said.

“He is not 100% for these extreme conditions. He suffered and brought the bike to the finish. The whole team would like to thank him for that huge effort.”

Team-mate Augusto Fernandez’s Sunday race lasted just three laps before a glitch with his rear ride-height device forced him to retire from 15th place.

“We had an issue with the rear ride height device after three laps. A real shame because I was feeling strong: we just kept running into problems all weekend, like yellow flags and so on,” said the rookie.

“We made a step in the Misano test and I think we can start each Grand Prix in a more competitive way; that’s why I am now looking forward to Motegi.”

Practice for the Japanese MotoGP starts on Friday.