June 12, 2021

Honda boss Puig’s MotoGP return “crucial” – Pol Espargaro

This weekend’s race at Le Mans will be Puig’s first of the 2021 season, having missed the opening four rounds due to a medical issue.

Espargaro emerged from the Spanish GP last time out frustrated with his bike after finishing 10th behind returning teammate Marc Marquez, and wasn’t happy with the direction all HRC riders were approaching development.

Ending Friday at Le Mans as top Honda runner in fourth, 0.390 seconds off the pace, Espargaro said Puig’s return allows discussions about improving the bike to become “more human”.

“It’s not about weakness of communication between the Japanese and me,” he began. “I mean, sure the Japanese culture is a lot different than the European one and for sure it’s harder for me to explain my problems to the Japanese than to Alberto.

“I think it’s more about relationship. For me Alberto in the team is very important because Alberto is a guy who first of all has been a rider.

“So, he understands always our feeling, even if things are not going bad. Sometimes technicians see everything in numbers and you are one number on a bike full of numbers.

“And this is very rigid. So, with Alberto, when I talk with him everything becomes more human. When I talk to him, I feel he understands my problems in another level, that I can explain to him and he’s translating to the Japanese crew because he knows them more than me.

“So, for me, having Alberto back is more than important. I think it’s crucial. I talk so much with Alberto, he understands me so good and it’s super important that Alberto is here.”

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Espargaro spun 90 laps at Jerez during the post-race test and was able to find fixes to problems which dogged him at the Spanish GP which have translated to Le Mans.

However, he admits he isn’t sure if the track – which has typically been strong for him over the years – is just allowing him to ride more comfortably and needs to evaluate these gains again in the coming races.

“I did 90 laps full of testing and full of understanding a lot of things,” he added.

“I cannot tell you if this is part of this work. I’m sure that a lot of things we tested on Monday at Jerez that we are using today, they are useful and it helps especially for me to get confident.

“We tested many things that made me feel more comfortable riding the bike and I had some problems in some other places that we improved on Monday after the test and I don’t have them here.

“Like, for example, the weakness of grip on the rear in the entry to corners, this was making me very uncomfortable on the bike and in the test we did on Monday in Jerez we improved these problems and I don’t have them here.

“If it’s the track or not, I don’t know, I will have to go to Mugello and Barcelona to understand more.

“But we solved these problems in Jerez and we don’t have those problems here. So, for sure I think it’s part of the reason of the result.”

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