until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


How deleted Marquez lap inspired shock Espargaro pole

by Simon Patterson
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

British Grand Prix pole-sitter Pol Espargaro has admitted that a cancelled laptime from Repsol Honda team-mate Marc Marquez contributed to him topping Silverstone qualifying.

Espargaro has looked like the fastest Honda rider at the Northamptonshire circuit for much of the weekend, enjoying the upper hand over his eight-time world champion team-mate after Marquez suffered a 170mph fall during first practice.

However, Marquez’s 1m59.231s in the early stages of Q2 – ultimately deleted for track limits abuse at Chapel – would’ve bested Espargaro’s initial effort if it were legal, and helped convince him that a great result was possible.

Marc Marquez Honda MotoGP Silverstone

“I have a good relationship with Marc and it’s so nice to have him in the pit box,” said Espargaro after the pole lap. “Today in the first run I did a 1[m]59.6[s] lap, which I consider to be a good time. I asked the guys what Marc did because he was not on the [timing] list, and they told me that he did [1m]59.3[s] but they [race direction] cancelled it.

“So I said ‘ok, mine was good but it’s not good, Marc is three tenths faster,’ So this helped me to push myself a little bit harder in the second run, and I knew it would be possible to do a 59-low.

“That’s why I pushed myself much much harder in the second run and I could do this laptime.

“Also to fight against one guy as strong as Marc, it’s always important and nice.”

Later, a jovial Espargaro added of Marquez: “I imagine Marc will not be happy to see me here on pole position and him fifth, in the second row.

“I know he’s going to start tomorrow with fire in the ass, that’s 100 percent sure. We all can imagine it.”

What this pole means

Pol Espargaro Honda MotoGP Silverstone

While he might be lining up at the front of the grid for tomorrow’s 20-lap race of Silverstone, Espargaro is trying hard not to get too excited – and he actually sounded more like a rookie than a veteran MotoGP racer when explaining how he was going to tackle the race.

Deeply uncomfortable on the Honda RC213V despite hoping at start of the season to be a championship contender on the bike, he says that after the struggles of the last two rounds at the Red Bull Ring in particular, he’s going to enjoy tomorrow and simply see what happens.

“Today was a little bit shocking after how tough the past weekends in Austria were for us,” he admitted. “To be able to come back here like this is just difficult to believe. I’ve tried to be better and I work every day, but things weren’t coming – but now everything is coming much easier. For sure the weather, the track, the temperature are all coming to help me to be able to apply my riding style, and maybe to forget the problems in the pit box with the bike a little.

Pol Espargaro Honda MotoGP Silverstone

“Honestly speaking I don’t want to think too much about the race because we’ve been suffering so much that I want to just live in the present right now.

“I want to have this time with my mechanics and my team, but not to make many impressions about the race. It’ll be a new day and we’ll put all our effort into it, but I haven’t been in this situation for a long time and first of all I want to enjoy it.

“It is a day to enjoy and to see what these guys [out front] can do in the race. It will be kind of a learning process with this bike, to see what they do with a full tank of fuel, to follow their lines, to see what they do in the first laps to be so fast when I struggle so much. It’ll be interesting, and I’m going to take it as part of my learning process. But if I can be with them for some laps, it’ll be so much fun.”

Pol Espargaro Honda MotoGP Silverstone

However, while he might be looking to have a fun race tomorrow, it still seems like the combination of British weather and Silverstone surface is acting like something of a sticking plaster for his and Honda’s bigger issues.

“I’m facing some crucial problems with this bike in my riding style,” he explained. “Normally I use the rear brake massively in all the bikes I have ridden – I used different discs from many of my teammates in Moto2 because I was burning them. In KTM I made the Brembo [brake supplier] guys work quite a lot.

“In Honda we have some problems in traction and rear grip, and I’m not allowed to use the rear brake any more. That’s why I crash so much with the front, why I’m struggling so much. I face a situation on the exit of the corner where I have too much lean angle and the bike is spinning a lot.

“Here the situation is different because we have much more grip than we’ve had in other places where I’ve heard Ducati guys or Suzuki guys or even my brother [Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia] complaining about grip. For us, it’s the complete opposite, and it shows that we’re not in an easy situation, When the others struggle we are enjoying it, but normally the others are enjoying themselves and it means we are struggling.

“But finally we arrived here like in Le Mans, where there is a lot of grip and I can apply my riding style to use a lot of rear grip and turn the bike. It allows me to work with my riding style and to enjoy riding my bike.”

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