The 2022 campaign has been extremely difficult for all Honda riders on the radically revised RC213V, with Espargaro only cracking the top 10 once since his podium on the opening night of the championship in Qatar back at the start of March.
Struggling throughout the Le Mans weekend, Espargaro qualified 11th and remained there in the race having been caught out by a late crash for KTM’s Miguel Oliveira.
But even with this moment, he feels it was unlikely he would have finished much closer to the victory than the 22.7s adrift he ended up and admits “I feel not fast” on the Honda right now.
“I’m angry with that always when I’ve been riding a bike, normally I felt I was strong in some places. In KTM I was very strong on brakes,” said Espargaro, who looks set to be out of a ride at Honda come the end of 2022.
“I remember one race in Misano where they were much faster than me, I ended up on the podium because I was braking much later than them. It was my strong point and I was taking that to the limit.
“Now I feel with the Honda I have no strong points. I’m suffering stopping, I’m suffering in the middle of the corner, and I’m struggling on acceleration.
“So, that’s why I arrived 20s behind first because I have no strong points. I feel not fast, I’m not fast and I’m not riding well.”
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images
The fact that he has no strong points on the Honda meant he couldn’t overtake any riders in Sunday’s Le Mans race.
He added: “One of the biggest problems at the moment with this bike is I cannot overtake. I don’t feel I have a strong point to attack the other riders.
“I was losing quite a lot on the acceleration, with the pure grip.
“I was behind the KTMs, behind Brad [Binder], who is braking not too bad and braking is the only place I could gain time.
“But because I was losing on acceleration I was needing to recover the time on braking, plus needing to brake much later.
“I tried to overtake the KTMs like six times during the race and that sixth time I went wide because it’s impossible.
“You don’t have a strong point, so as soon as I get stuck behind someone I am not able to overtake.”