After suffering just one fall from his new Repsol Honda throughout pre-season testing, Pol Espargaro hit the ground twice on the opening day of the Qatar MotoGP weekend.

While the Spaniard labelled the first daylight accident as 'stupid' he had few regrets over the second, at the very end of the night session.

Despite the spills, Espargaro effectively matched his best lap time during testing, claimed tenth place for provisional direct access to Qualifying 2 and was within 0.514s of fastest man Jack Miller (Ducati).

"I feel happy first of all because after stopping for a week after the test I could be as fast as with four days testing here, I did more-or-less the same lap time and the top guys didn't match their fastest lap time," Espargaro said. "I'm only five tenths off the first but if I finished the last lap I would be even closer.

"So I'm getting closer, but also closer to the limit and I found it twice today. Which is not bad at all! I told you already that to be fast I would need to crash and as these crashes came in free practice, it's fine. It's what happens when you cannot test so much. They just have to not come in the race or qualifying."

Espargaro added: "There are two ways of crashing. Crashing going hot and fast or crashing going slow. When you crash going slow, it’s bad.

"But when you crash going fast it means you've found the limit and that’s what I need now. So I’ll know for next time in that place with that many laps on the front and rear tyres I cannot push as much. This is knowledge.

"This morning was a silly crash with the medium tyre which at the moment is not working for us. So it was a stupid crash, and I was angry.

"FP1 is where you use tyres you don’t want to use during the rest of the weekend. We put tyres we did not like and in conditions the track was not good. That's why the crash comes. It is what it is.

"But the one in FP2 is going to make me grow and understand a bit more because I was pushing too much or asking too much of the tyre. Now I know when the tyre says no. The pity was I couldn’t save the crash, because I wasn’t expecting it, but this is part of this knowledge and I’ll take it for the future.

"I was smiling after because I'm enjoying riding. Okay it’s wild. I’m a little out of control at moment as you can imagine because to ride in 1m '53 means that we are fast. Everyone is very fast.

"It's just the first day and Honda here is not 'wow'. But even like that I could be fast and less than half-a-second from the first. This is amazing. That's why when I crashed I was happy, because I was going fast and I feel everything is coming after the test, so this is nice."

Espargaro next objective is to feel more in control on the bike so that he can be more consistent with his lap times.

"It’s more my riding style that needs to be improved than the bike. Because each time I’m pushing I feel this 'discontrol'.

"I didn’t do more than 3 laps in a row perfect. Corner 6 I was wide. Small time I’m losing everywhere just by being ‘discontrolled’, and not being ready for riding at this speed.

"It’s just a matter of laps and knowledge. It’s going to come. I feel like a rookie with this bike. Now I need to learn it a little bit more."

Nonetheless, Espargaro was again the top Honda rider and felt that overall it had been a positive start.

"This is a place where Ducati and Yamaha are fast and we are a bit less fast than them. I feel pleased to be in the top 10, Q2 direct, knowing that tomorrow in FP3 it'll be difficult to improve."

 

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