Pol Espargaro is hoping that the first of his home Spanish MotoGP rounds at Jerez next weekend will provide him with the knowledge he needs to make the next steps in adapting to the Repsol Honda, especially with used tyres.

After 8th (+6.0s) and 13th (+6.1s) places in Qatar, where he was the top RCV rider on both occasions, Espargaro was joined for the first time by team-mate and returning eight-time world champion Marc Marquez in Portimao.

Espargaro said he welcomed the chance to compare data directly with another fast Honda rider and learned, "A little bit everywhere. There were some sectors, for example 1 and 4, I was doing quite good, but sectors 2 and 3 I was doing very bad.

"For sure I was learning how to be faster with this bike. This is important. About the technique, I'm braking late, but for sure the lines are not perfect, which affects also picking up the bike to get the grip and use the electronics on your side to be a little bit faster.

"But again, Taka and Alex are also fast in some areas that I've been working on and it's always useful to have their data as well."

After a massive final practice highside, a sore Espargaro qualified 14th for the Portimao race, just behind LCR's Alex Marquez, with Marc Marquez lining up as the leading Honda in sixth.

But unfortunately for Espargaro, a rear brake issue meant his race was over within a few laps.

"We don’t know why or how but we had a problem on the rear brake, something stayed on and I lost completely the rear brake. In the second lap already I felt spongy and then the third lap I had to pull out," he confirmed.

About what might have been possible, he joked, 'Now I could tell you I would win the race! But jokes apart, I don’t know… Stay with the Hondas, with Alex especially, because I've been very similar in warm-up to him and why not something else because on Sunday's normally I perform a little better than practice. But I don’t know honestly."

"For sure it's not the best thing for a new guy learning the Honda to start with races at these two tracks, Qatar and Portimao, without much testing. But everything is useful and today would have been much better if I could do the 25 laps to understand a bit more, make new mistakes, improve on them and learn more about this bike especially with used tyres.

"But it couldn't be like that so now I'm just looking forward to Jerez. It's a place I've been always okay at and also I know the track so well, which allows me to have what I'm looking for; some consistency in all the sectors.

"I'm fast but I need to put everything together and I think Jerez can be useful for that."

The weekend break before the Spanish round will also be welcome to fully recover from Saturday's monster highside.

"The crash was hard and I still have a little bit of pain but it's just muscular, from the huge impact. I cannot turn my neck so much, but with time and relaxation it will be okay. I'm not worried about it for Jerez."

Marc Marquez went on to finish as the top Honda rider in seventh place (+13.2s), with Alex Marquez eighth (+18.0) and Takaaki Nakagami tenth (+23.7s).

 

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