Pol Espargaro endured his toughest outing with Honda so far on the opening day of practice for the second MotoGP race in Qatar. 

The Spanish rider finished in 17th place and over a second down on Jack Miller’s top time. 

Espargaro had an impressive first race for Repsol Honda last weekend as he finished eighth and was one of the fastest riders in the closing stages. 

And while his race pace once again looks strong, the former KTM rider is struggling to get the Honda working during qualifying runs. 

Espargaro gave a very honest assessment of why this is the case, and put the blame on himself. 

"Easy! I did not make a good lap. I did many laps but not one in a proper way," said Espargaro. 

"I was over pushing and just it didn’t come and I couldn’t put anything together. It is not an excuse, it is a reality.

“Also I’m not performing well in this place, never performed well in this place and this makes the job even harder and today I have not been good enough in one lap, that’s it.”

Something that is available to riders this weekend are the preheated tyres being carried over from last weekend. 

Espargaro was quick to point out this is not an excuse as the entire grid is in the same position, but did admit the preheated tyres are causing issues. 

"When we put them on the grip level is low and is lower than the ones that have not been heated from the week before. So when we put the proper one to make the time attack, the bike changes a little and this makes me do mistakes," said the former Moto2 champion.

"We all have on the allocation two pre-heated tyres, of each compound. So it means we use today two soft tyres on the time attack in FP2. One of them was pre-heated and one was not. 

"We still have one pre-heated that we don’t know when we are going to put it on and we have all the others in a good performance. But I don’t want to let it be an excuse, because this is like that for everyone. 

"We will see tomorrow. If we go through maybe there is guys who have the same amount of tyres as us. So I’m not worried about it [now]. If tomorrow we don’t go through, then I'm going to be worried."

Espargaro made his way directly through to Q2 last weekend, and will be hoping he can at least replicate a tenth place start for Sunday’s race, so that he can profit from his race pace. 

The 29 year-old knows qualifying will be important and regarding his race rhythm, he said: "For the rhythm I mean I feel I have the same pace as last weekend which, if we start in a good position, we have the pace for top five. 

"But we are not in the situation of what we wish. We are not in a position for the first three rows at the moment so tomorrow we have to fight for it. But I’m positive, we are going to make it."

 

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