Pol Espargarò started the 2022 MotoGP season at the top, with the best time in winter tests in Mandalika and the podium in the Qatar GP. The new Honda RC213V seemed to fit him perfectly in the preseason and in Losail, the newfound grip at the rear allowed him to push to the limit and be able to show off his driving style based on a more insistent use of the rear brake. In the second round in Indonesia, Michelin’s harder carcass sent the feeling with Honda into a tailspin, but in Argentina the old traction problems returned.
Pressing from the MotoGP riders market
Marc Marquez’s injury and 12th place at Termas de Rio Hondo put some pressure on the Repsol Honda garage. Especially after Fabio Quartararo publicly admitted that he has started a dialogue with HRC for the next MotoGP season. The news was known in the corridors of the paddock, denied by Alberto Puig only to preserve the serenity in the environment. Austin and Portimao will be two decisive proving grounds for the fate of Pol Espargarò who, until the 15th lap of the Argentine GP, was fighting for a step on the podium with Alex Rins. “Despite the crash we were fourth, but it is true that things are not going the right way … The sensations were not good, I did not feel able to fight for the podium despite being very close to Alex“.
The absence of Marc Marquez is certainly a point against him: Honda needs two big names to aim for the MotoGP title, whatever happens. In the Argentine GP no Honda rider entered the top 10, the best of the brand is Takaaki Nakagami in 12th place. The House of the Golden Wing is in sixth and last place in the constructors’ classification, a fact that annoys Pol Espargarò: “Our potential is very high this year. So collecting only four points in two races is not what we are here for“. For the third consecutive year the World Championship starts uphill for HRC.
Bittersweet Argentina for the Espargarò brothers
The Granollers rider suffered from a constant lack of grip on the rear wheel which prevented him from taking advantage of the engine’s acceleration. This forced him to risk more than necessary to recover lost ground in the fastest sectors of the circuit, up to the crash in turn 2 in an attempt to overtake Alex Rins’ Suzuki. “I was expecting a crash, because I was going to the limit – Pol Espargarò admitted -. We’ll see if things get right back in Austin, but we know things won’t get better before we get to Europe“.
He leaves South America with bittersweet sensations, after his brother triumphs for the first time in the premier class. “It’s hard to be happy for Aleix after my crash, but you have to see everything in perspective and Aleix deserves it. He is a very hardworking guy who has worked a lot with Aprilia for many years, with few podiums and no wins“.