Espargaro’s Honda MotoGP move made him “realise how much you miss testing”

The eight-time MotoGP podium finisher spearheaded development of the KTM bike from the brand’s debut in 2017 through to 2020.

Signed to join Honda for 2021, Espargaro struggled massively to replicate the form he enjoyed on the RC16, scoring just two podiums in as many years before electing to re-sign with KTM to return to Tech3 for 2023.

Honda and Yamaha currently sit last in the manufacturers’ standings, as the balance of power has shifted well in favour of the European brands.

KTM famously brought constant developments to its bike in its first three years in MotoGP, which Espargaro says became “super stressful”. Honda operates in a completely different way and has tumbled down the order as a result.

Speaking with in an exclusive interview during the San Marino Grand Prix, Espargaro says he soon realised Honda didn’t have what KTM did in “keeping you with a fire in your ass”.

“When I left KTM, I was overloaded,” he said when asked if it was a shock to come back to the KTM way of working after two tough years at Honda.

“Especially the first three years were mad, we were testing in some races even two chassis in one race weekend. So, the risk level we were just accepting was insane.

“But also the pushing level and the stress of the weekend knowing we are going to be trying something new and not having any answers was super stressful.

“Then I moved to Honda and then I realised testing a lot of things makes you stay alive.

“When everything slows down and you don’t have good results, it makes you realise how much you miss testing things. It keeps you with fire in your ass.”

Pol Espargaro, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing

Pol Espargaro, Tech3 GASGAS Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Espargaro spent the first nine rounds of the 2023 season on the sidelines due to serious injuries from a crash in FP2 for the Portuguese GP.

Returning at the British GP, Espargaro has scored eight points and achieved a best result of sixth in the sprint race at the Austrian GP.

Espargaro signed a two-year contract to return to KTM, but his future remains uncertain as the Austrian manufacturer looks to find a place for Moto2 championship leader Pedro Acosta.

It is thought both Tech3 riders will be pitted against each other over the remaining rounds to decide who remains, with Augusto Fernandez also contracted for 2024.

Espargaro has repeatedly stated that he is safe and is not concerned about the current situation, and reiterated this to at Misano.

“I understand, but it’s what all the press has generated,” he said.

“It’s not what I’m thinking, I’m not feeling I’m in danger with my future. Nobody has really said that to me, I have a contract.

“So, it’s like you don’t go to Pecco [Bagnaia] and ask ‘Pecco, what are you going to do with your future’. He has a contract.

“So, it’s exactly the same with my place. We are answering this question a lot of times, but the ones who need to give the answers are the owners of the manufacturer – not us, not the riders.

“We are pleased and happy because we have the contract, which is what matters.”

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