The Dutch TT promised much for Pol Espargaro with the Spaniard setting the pace in opening practice and looking strong throughout the weekend. The fickle Dutch weather caught him out in qualifying and in the race the reigning Moto2 world champion was forced to learn how to ride a MotoGP bike in the wet for the first time.
Speaking afterwards Espargaro admitted that it was a difficult race but that there was plenty of positives to take from it as he continues to learn during his rookie season in the premier class:
“It was a difficult day,” admitted Espargaro. “This morning in the dry we were as fast as we had been all weekend and been in the top three but the rain came for the race and that was a disaster. I think that we did everything the wrong way, when everyone was on dries we were wets and when everyone was on wets we were on dries.
“Our option to copy Valentino on the grid wasn’t bad because at that moment the track was drying and I think it was a good option but just before the start it started to rain a bit more so I think that the good decision was ours but it was too risky at the start. I’d never ridden this bike in wet conditions and then the track was drying so it wasn’t fully raining and the track was changing so I was changing the maps on the bike.”
The learning curve for a MotoGP rider in the wet is extremely steep and for Espargaro it was overwhelming in the early stages but it provided an important lesson in his development as a premier class rider.
“Everything was too difficult to understand for me and it was difficult to ride. We had been really strong here and I think this was our best weekend so far this season so I’ll think about the next race. I learned a lot today and sometimes when you learn the result can be good, like at Le Mans, and then sometimes you learn and the result is not good. Normally you learn more when the result isn’t as good and today we learned that we need to take more of our decisions and that we need to ride a little bit differently in the wet and that we need to make decisions earlier and faster. That will come with experience and today we’ll take a lot of experience.”
The change of bikes in a flag to flag race is always a challenge for a rider as they have to adapt from a wet setup to a dry setup in an instant but afterwards Espargaro dismissed the difficulties and instead commented that the biggest difficulty is judging when to make the change, something which he hopes will come with experience:
“We did the change well and it’s not that difficult to change bikes but I think that we did it fast but maybe with more experience I’ll get more confidence to stop earlier and change tyres earlier. Today I did everything late and if I had stopped earlier today I could have had a different race.”