Pol Espargaro “embarrassed” to finish so low in Styria MotoGP

Espargaro qualified on pole and narrowly missed the win in last year’s edition of the Styrian GP when he was a KTM rider, while in 2021 on the Honda he was only 16th and 31.150s off victory.

The Honda rider says his race was compromised by a “desperate” strategy to unsuccessfully get out of Q1 in qualifying by fitting a fresh medium rear tyre, which left him without a back-up in case of a red flag on Sunday.

A fiery crash involving Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo Savadori led to the race being halted on lap three, meaning Espargaro couldn’t fit a fresh medium tire for the restart.

Asked how he can get better results on the Honda, Espargaro said: “Well, first of all plan the strategy in a different way because we were desperate.

“I was desperate in Q1 and I put the medium tire on, which means we ran out of backup tires in case of red flag.

“So, when the red flag happened I didn’t have the back-up tire like all the rest of the grid did.

“So, I started with five laps tires on the rear, most of the guys complained about the grip in the second race.

“You can imagine with five laps on the tire already, it was a disaster completely.

“From the first to the last lap, just managing to finish the race because it was kind of embarrassing also to be so far back on the grid knowing this track suits me really good.

“I ride almost here, I almost got the victory last year with a pole position. It was kind of embarrassing.”

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Espargaro says the main issue for him on the Honda continues to be a lack of rear grip, noting that he is now unable to ride using the rear brake like he normally would and this is like forcing him to “write with the left hand”.

“The rear grip is the problem of the bike,” he explained.

“It’s been like that since Qatar and if you change nothing on the bike, then it’s going to keep being the same problem.

“I remember in the past on other bikes I was using hugely the rear brake to help me to turn the bike and stop the bike in the mid-corner, avoiding to stress the front brake.

“And the problem is if you don’t have rear grip you cannot use the rear brake.

“So, I’m just putting harder springs on the rear brake to avoid using it and for me if you take away the rear brake it’s like writing with the left hand.

“We are missing grip, this is all. If we get grip on the rear as the others, we will qualify better, we will turn faster, we will accelerate better with more grip, we will not struggle as much on the front.

“So, everything is painful, the rear grip is the key of this new era of MotoGP and if you don’t have it you are dead.”