Pol Espargaro’s impressive pre-season form continues for Honda after topping day three of the Mandalika MotoGP test.

After already admitting he’s ready for round one following yesterday’s day two, Sunday’s performance has done little to change the Spanish rider’s mind as he pipped world champion Fabio Quartararo by 0.014s - setting an official time of 1:31.060s. 

Espargaro was one of the earliest riders to complete his testing schedule and when discussing his fastest lap - was yet to be confirmed whether he would finish top or not as several riders remained out on track - he said: "At the moment yes but the track improves quite a lot. In the morning it’s good but in the afternoon it’s very good. 

"In the end it doesn’t matter, it’s just one lap in a test. It’s good because it shows the potential is so high in our bike in one lap which is something we needed to improve from last year after seeing how fast the Ducati’s are in one lap. 

"But the most important thing is the pace, the bike is working well and there are no crashes. It’s so important to build up the confidence for the first race in Qatar. Already feeling ready for that."

With Espargaro being one of the quickest when it came to race simulations, plus his time attack pace that led him to finish two out of the three days quickest, Honda are without doubt an early favourite for the race win in Qatar.  

And although Espargaro highlighted the importance of being quick in both one lap and over race distance, there’s another reason why the former KTM rider is in such confident mood…

"See, normally when we are in Malaysia, Thailand; these places were my weakest places," said the seven-time MotoGP podium finisher. "It was also the bike’s weakest place as well. 

"I struggled a lot with hot conditions and wasn’t able to ride how I like. So being fast in Malaysia, being fast here in Mandalika is so important for me. 

"We did it in one lap but also with the pace when the tyre starts to drop. That is when you know if you are working and if the bike is working. We are not too bad and for that reason I think we are ready for Qatar."

A key where Espargaro has seemingly found a better rhythm aboard the 2022 RC213V is whilst ‘on throttle’ (corner exit). 

In fact, it’s led Espargaro to claiming he’s ‘never been so fast’ heading into a season, however, the 30 year-old was also quick to point out that doing this type of performance in testing doesn’t mean much. 

Asked if he’s ever felt better about the start of a season, Espargaro admitted: "No, honestly no. I’ve never been so fast before. For sure the Honda is working good, but as I said, it’s just a test. 

"We performed well in one lap and with the rhythm, but at the end of the day no points were given today. 

"What really matters is in a few weeks in Qatar and we must be ready. All the work we have done here is more than good and we all feel like we’re ready to start."