Pol Espargaro has played down his and KTM’s hopes of converting a first career MotoGP pole position into a second win in three races for the Austrian firm, saying he feels he had a better chance at the Red Bull Ring a week earlier.

Reeling from a tough couple of weeks after being involved in collisions with other riders while in contention for the podium at both Brno (Johann Zarco) and at the Red Bull Ring (Miguel Oliveira), pole position – his maiden one in 110 attempts and KTM’s first since entrering MotoGP in 2017 – is certainly timely.

A new qualifying feat though it may be, Espargaro and KTM do in fact have some experience getting away from the #1 having begun last week’s restarted race from that position. However, Espargaro was dropping back prior to his collision with Oliveira, even if he maintains a podium was on the cards had the race not been stopped.

As such, the Spaniard was asked whether he felt better placed to emulate Brad Binder’s victory for KTM two weeks’ ago. However, perhaps surprisingly, he doesn’t expect to be in the thick of the lead hunt, instead predicting a Ducati vs. Suzuki battle instead.

‘Pol on pole, it does sound good!”

“I am very happy after what happened with the last two weekends, that we couldn’t finish races we had a good chance to fight for the podium or victory, it was quite frustrating,. But to get this pole position in Austria, all we are missing is the stands full of people, the emotion of the Orange Army, we are missing them.

“But we did pole, it’s just a small step to towards tomorrow’s race but an important one if we want to fight against Ducati in the first laps, plus the Suzuki’s, they are super-fast.

“Last weekend I think we may have had more chance to win the race, I think it was more achievable because we showed a good performance in race one [part one]. I think it is slightly different this weekend, Suzuki have improved their performance all weekend and they are in amazing shape with good rhythm, also Ducati and Nakagami isn’t going to make my life easy tomorrow.

“The pace is quite similar, all of us, perhaps last week I had something extra. We will try to win tomorrow but whatever happens I want to cross the finish line and if it’s possible fight for the victory and a podium, it would be unbelievable.”

Coming on the day Honda confirmed its six-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez will be out of action for another couple of months still, it leaves the champions in a precarious situation with rookie Alex Marquez and test rider/stand Stefan Bradl well down the order.

It’s among the reasons why Honda has turned to Espargaro for the 2021 MotoGP season, though few expected it to be the Austrian firm that was in stronger shape at this stage in the season. Nonetheless, is refusing to look so far ahead and instead maximise his time left with KTM.

“Closest to me right now is one Honda guy, Taka has shown an amazing performance today, he is fast and it means the bike [2019 spec] is for sure there.

“Anyway, this is happening next year, this year I am enjoying my amazing bike we have here, it working super well and we are doing a really good job.”

I really want to take profit of it and enjoy it now, next year is very far away from now.”

 

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