KTM’s Pol Espargaro admits “I don’t know how to push” to make a laptime at Catalunya owing to the tricky conditions during Friday’s MotoGP Catalan Grand Prix practices.
The low-grip nature of the Barcelona circuit coupled with high winds on Friday led to a number of complaints from riders about the conditions, with several caught out in crashes during FP1 and FP2.
Espargaro was seventh on the combined times after Friday’s running, 0.685 seconds off the pace, while teammate Brad Binder was four tenths clear in third.
The KTM worked well in the low-grip conditions at Brno in August, with Binder winning the Czech GP and Espargaro on course for a podium before crashing out.
But Espargaro says he was unable to understand the limit of grip on his KTM on Friday and felt he was “just cruising” because of the conditions.
“Strange and very weird, especially the morning,” he said when asked about his day.
“I mean, we were riding all the morning and FP1 was useless. We did a lot of laps, but for exactly nothing because I didn’t learn anything. I was with amazingly low grip, spinning a lot, like rain conditions in the dry.
“The grip is low, but if you add some cold wind on there, then it’s even worse – especially on the front.
“I had the feeling that I didn’t recognise with two sessions, with quite a lot of laps, where the front limit is, especially on the left-hand side.
“I don’t feel how much I can push, how late I can brake, how much pad pressure I can do.
“For sure, in tomorrow’s qualifying I’m going to push and I’m going to find it in FP3 and qualifying, but I’m wondering for the race pace especially because we need to do a lot of laps and I don’t have the feeling that I’m getting tired on the bike, that I have input on the bike.
“I’m just cruising and really I don’t know how to push to make the laptime.
“And I’m not happy because of that because I don’t understand the situation, and with the win on the straight I felt it so much. “
Binder had similar issues in the morning, branding FP1 a “disaster”, but was relaxed about his current race pace as his first day at any new circuit on the MotoGP bike is always a learning process.
“Basically the first exit this morning was a disaster, I never got the rear tyre to come back after my first pitstop,” he said.
“So that was basically a session wasted, but this afternoon we started on the tyre we saved from this morning.
“So straight away things worked well. I didn’t quite expect the drop so quickly, and when it dropped it took me a few laps to find my feet.
“We actually had to come and change the bike a little bit because I kept washing the front as soon as I lost the grip.
“So, for the last exit I had the best of both worlds putting in the soft rear tyre and we had improved the setting of the bike.
“Always on my first day, it’s super difficult to have good rhythm purely because I’m trying different things.”