Espargaro: Podium charge "unreal" after "wild highside"

KTM rider Pol Espargaro has described his Valencia MotoGP podium charge as “unreal” after recovering from a “wild highside” crash in the first part of the race.

Espargaro: Podium charge "unreal" after "wild highside"

Espargaro, who had his sights set on KTM's best MotoGP finish after qualifying sixth, was battling champion Marc Marquez for third place when he fell off his RC16.

He pushed it out of the gravel and resumed the race in 18th, but began to scythe his way through the field despite riding with a destroyed windscreen.

After a 40-minute red flag brought on by worsening conditions, he lined up eighth for the second start – and battled through to fourth, before Valentino Rossi's late crash gave him and KTM a maiden podium.

“It's unreal,” he said. “In the first [part of the] race I felt good, honestly during all the weekend with wet conditions. I was fast and I could do some good laptimes.

“I was fighting against Marc, I saw Marc with some problems with the rear tyre, I knew he was not having the same grip as me or the rest of the guys, I tried to overtake him from inside, outside, but Marc was braking so hard and the Honda was really good on acceleration, and I couldn't.

“And for some reason I was so fast in T2, and when you are so fast in one place, you don't maybe need to try hard in that place, maybe in the others, and I tried in that place, and I make an amazing crash, so wild, big highside.

“And the bike was without fairing, and I went from last till seventh or eighth. It was wild. I don't know how I did it because I could not see much in the straight. The wind was huge, I had problems in my neck because I couldn't manage this speed without fairing.

“The red flag was like a message – first the bike [is still okay] after this huge crash, and then the red flag. I said to myself 'man, this is your opportunity, just take it'.”

Espargaro admitted he was feeling pressure heading into the race after KTM won in Moto3 with 15-year-old wildcard Can Oncu and Moto2 with Miguel Oliveira.

“I was looking Movistar TV, when I was just waiting for my race, a little bit scared in my chair, looking at the weather and seeing these guys doing these amazing races.

“I said 'you are going to look ridiculous if you don't do something good'. I heard [TV presenter] Ernest Riveras say 'let's see what Pol [can do], he can close the circle', and I was there saying 'no, man, that is not going to happen'. And finally we did it.”

The 27-year-old Spaniard, whose first MotoGP podium came in his 86th start, said the result was more emotional than his Moto2 title success in 2013.

“In Moto2, in 125[cc], I was winning and in the podium and constantly there, and humans, we are so stupid that we get used to all these good things when it happens.

“And then when I was world champion, you enjoy it so much, it's amazing, but because you've been winning, it's emotional, but not as much as what we did today.

“What we did today was so difficult. And we've been so many times trying, and with this new bike, with new KTM... it was so unreal.

“I think it was more emotional than winning a world championship, even just a third place, it's been amazing.”

Third place Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Third place Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images

shares
comments
Miller: Belated Valencia GP red flag "a joke"

Previous article

Miller: Belated Valencia GP red flag "a joke"

Next article

Marquez: Valencia tyre choice "first big mistake" of 2018

Marquez: Valencia tyre choice "first big mistake" of 2018
Load comments
How Marquez beat his Honda in his heroic MotoGP comeback win Prime

How Marquez beat his Honda in his heroic MotoGP comeback win

Marc Marquez has been through hell and back in the 581 days between his win in the 2019 Valencia season finale and his heroic MotoGP comeback victory in Germany last Sunday. Despite battling physical limitations and a difficult 2021-spec Honda, the Sachsenring provided the perfect storm for the Spaniard to return to the top step

Why Quartararo’s suit penalty highlights a wider issue in MotoGP Prime

Why Quartararo’s suit penalty highlights a wider issue in MotoGP

OPINION: Fabio Quartararo racing with his leather suit open and subsequent penalty has been the main talking point of the Catalunya MotoGP weekend, which has highlighted a wider issue with MotoGP’s stewarding that risks a negative precedent going forward.

MotoGP
Jun 8, 2021
How MotoGP’s “beast” tamers bounced back at Catalunya Prime

How MotoGP’s “beast” tamers bounced back at Catalunya

The expectation on KTM to replicate its winning form from 2020 this season made its difficult start to the new MotoGP campaign even more disappointing. But a key update has seen KTM's fortunes reversed over the last week and returned it to the top step of the podium in Barcelona

MotoGP
Jun 7, 2021
The signs that point to Rossi's MotoGP retirement Prime

The signs that point to Rossi's MotoGP retirement

It's not been a happy start to 2021 for Valentino Rossi at the Petronas SRT satellite squad, with performances that are a shadow of the rider that utterly dominated MotoGP at the start of the new millennium. At the age of 42, how much longer can he go on?

MotoGP
May 19, 2021
Why the most significant Le Mans MotoGP performance wasn't Miller's Prime

Why the most significant Le Mans MotoGP performance wasn't Miller's

Hot on the heels of his first MotoGP win in five years, Jack Miller made it two from two with a commanding French Grand Prix victory at Le Mans despite two long-lap penalties. Impressive though it was, it was an expectation-defying performance from an anticipated title rival that was the real standout.

MotoGP
May 17, 2021
The impossible problem Honda faces with its 2021 MotoGP bike Prime

The impossible problem Honda faces with its 2021 MotoGP bike

Honda hasn’t enjoyed an easy start to the 2021 MotoGP campaign, despite gains last season which looked to have carried over into the pre-season. Now admitting it does have issues in serious need of resolving, it faces an almost impossible task in doing so.

MotoGP
May 11, 2021
How Jerez underlined MotoGP's speed problem Prime

How Jerez underlined MotoGP's speed problem

The brutal nature of a series of crashes at Jerez has reopened the debate about whether current MotoGP speeds are beyond the safety limits of the tracks. But even if riders are supportive of the move, getting the manufacturers to find a consensus on how speed reductions should be achieved may be altogether harder

MotoGP
May 4, 2021
How a Crutchlow helped Miller to Jerez MotoGP redemption Prime

How a Crutchlow helped Miller to Jerez MotoGP redemption

Jack Miller’s tough start to life as a factory Ducati MotoGP rider left him mentally battered and bruised, but a pep talk and positive reinforcement from a surprising source aided the Australian to show his full potential with victory at the Spanish Grand Prix

MotoGP
May 3, 2021