until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Pol Espargaro ‘mentally destroyed’ by first day back in MotoGP

by Valentin Khorounzhiy, Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Tech3 Gas Gas rider Pol Espargaro admits his first day back riding in MotoGP after a long injury absence “mentally destroyed” him.

Espargaro suffered severe injuries, including a badly fractured jaw and broken vertebrae, during practice for the Portimao opener back in March.

After a long and difficult recovery, he was back on a MotoGP bike for a demo run at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last month, but British Grand Prix practice at Silverstone – over four months on from the crash – marked his proper return at competitive speed.

He was 3.5 seconds off the pace in the opening practice session on Friday, then improved to 2.6s off in the afternoon.

“It was very very stressful,” Espargaro admitted afterwards.

“I think it was one of the most stressful days in my whole career.

“Changing directions at this high a speed, with this bike, my brain was not as fast as everything was coming. I wanted to do more but, especially in the first practice, my brain was not working fast enough for all the information I was getting.

Pol Espargaro

“And you realise how fast this bike is… and how fast everything comes. It’s insane. It’s insane.

“Mentally, I mean, I’m destroyed. Because it’s like you’re asking a lot of yourself and you are not able.”

And it was not just about riding at speed, Espargaro admitted, but also getting over the pervasive fear of crashing – a fear only made worse by the sight of Marco Bezzecchi being thrown off his Ducati on an outlap right ahead of him.

“It’s these moments where you need to face your worries, and it’s not easy at all,” Espargaro said.

Outlaps, thanks to the cold temperature, were a particular problem. Espargaro acknowledged that there was one run where, having gone out on harder-to-warm-up medium tyres, he headed back into the pits after two laps because he was “quite scared” of what could’ve happened had he pushed to build temperature.

He also admitted he had felt an “overload” after first practice.

“I never sleep between sessions, and I needed to take an hour. The brain was finished.”

Beyond the mental side of things, however, Espargaro also acknowledged that “physically I’m not ready”.

“There are muscles that look very good in the mirror, for the pictures in the summer, but then you come here and you realise how tough it is, and there are muscles that you just train while you are riding.

“It’s something that needs time.”


Espargaro “didn’t change anything” on the bike as he was “not fast enough to feel what I need to feel” in terms of making alterations to the set-up.

“I don’t want to change anything. Even to make me more comfortable – this is not about comfort, it’s about being fast. I don’t want to be comfortable on the bike, I want to be quick. It’s better to stay like it is, like [what] the factory guys [are riding].”

He admitted he was “massively” relieved to get the first day out of the way.

“I knew that today I would suffer a lot. And I did. I had extra nerves, acid in the stomach – but massive – from the nerves and the tension.

“Tomorrow is going to be a better day. Also during the night the brain is working, it’s never stopping. And tomorrow when I will jump on the bike everything is going to be a bit more relaxed and calm.”

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