Pol Espargaro channelled the anger carried over from last weekend's Brno MotoGP to claim first place during Friday practice for KTM's home round at the Red Bull Ring.

Espargaro was left bitterly disappointed when a clash with Johann Zarco sent him out of last Sunday's Czech Republic race, the Spaniard then watching from the sidelines as rookie team-mate Brad Binder took his and KTM's first MotoGP victory.

The usually happy-go-lucky Espargaro seemed to have a sterner look on his face during practice in Austria and admitted he still feels 'angry' at being unable to show his potential in Brno.

"I try to be always focussed but maybe my face is angry and it's perhaps more what I am feeling at this moment!" said Espargaro, who topped the dry morning session before a heavy rain shower in the afternoon.

"I think we did a good job this morning. I will try to keep angry for the rest of the weekend because it looks like it works!

"It feels good to be P1. We are at the level that we deserve - what we were looking for. We were all expecting rain in FP2 so everyone was pushing to the limit in FP1. It’s good, but just the first day."

Pressed on the exact cause of his anger, Espargaro explained: "I just wanted to perform well, and I couldn’t in the last race. After so much work in this project, to be so close to achieve something and not be able to is painful and that is why I am trying to make it [happen] now.

"I had this angry feeling because I felt I had the speed to be where Brad was in the Czech Republic and I couldn’t show it.

"The worst thing that can happen to a rider is to crash at the beginning of the race because then you cannot show to yourself what you have done. If you lose in a fight at the end of a race, you can be angry but at least you could show your full performance.

"To not be able to show anything is super-super painful and for me it is the worst that can happen in a race… especially how it was."

While Espargaro wasn't willing to talk further about the incident with Zarco, for which the Ducati rider received a long-lap penalty but still finished on the podium, the Frenchman revealed they had since spoken face-to-face and 'agreed to disagree'.

"I met him Thursday while parking the car. I went out of the car to speak face-to-face and tell him sorry for what happened," Zarco said. "He didn’t want to say sorry. I said I’m not coming to apologise but I’m sorry for the situation.

"He thought I did it on purpose because I knew I could not come in and I tried to push him. I said, ‘No Pol, for me if you went wide, I tried to come in and it’s logical there was space.’

"For him there wasn’t space because if we touched it’s because there was not space. Anyway, we speak face-to-face and we did not agree. At least it’s done."

Espargaro was just 0.044s ahead of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso on Friday, with Zarco sixth and Binder - making his MotoGP debut at the circuit - 16th.

"Looking this morning behind Dovi I am just missing this top speed and this is what they really have as their strong point and they always show a good performance here," Espargaro said. "In the end in this track we are talking a lot about power and also traction because they work well exiting from the corners. They catch the grip very good and they manage the anti-wheelie with electronics to accelerate from these narrow and tough corners that are very close. This is something that maybe we are missing; this acceleration.

"About tyres we are in quite a critical situation because we don’t know how they will work and we don’t know if we will have the chance to play with them much because tomorrow morning it looks as though it will be dry, but we won’t have a lot of time because we need a good time to go to Q2. It looks like Sunday is in good shape for weather so hopefully we have both FP3 and FP4 to play [with the tyres] because we are a bit lost. I think this is a general feeling."



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