After two difficult campaigns, Honda has radically overhauled its RC213V for the 2022 season in a bid to fix the rear traction problems it had been suffering.
This problem of a lack of traction seriously affected Espargaro’s adaptation process to the Honda last year, with the Spaniard scoring just one podium in 2021 having notched up five for KTM in 2020.
Despite the massive revisions, Honda hit the ground running with its bike last November at the Jerez test, with its strong form continuing into the pre-season tests this month in Malaysia and Indonesia – Espargaro topping the latter.
In an exclusive interview with Autosport, Espargaro admits he is “surprised” a totally new bike can be so good straight away and “feels very lucky”.
“This is something that is amazing,” Espargaro said when asked how he felt about Honda’s efforts over the winter.
“You can see the muscle of Honda, bringing a completely new bike from zero to the Jerez test.
“And just after the days in Jerez, in Malaysia being two tenths off the best rider, we had amazing rhythm in Malaysia. This shows something that I’m surprised by.
“From a bike from zero, from no data, to build this kind of bike is unbelievable. I feel very lucky to be where I am, now I think I have the opportunity to show what I’m able to do with that bike.”
Pol Espargaro, Repsol Honda Team
Photo by: Repsol Media
Espargaro added that now Honda has “brought me what I wanted”, in reference to the rear traction he was missing in 2021, he feels now “the ball is in my court”.
“This was the main target, to build a bike which I’m going to feel comfortable on,” he said.
“Honda was also thinking about this. I was complaining as other riders about the rear grip, but me more than others because my riding style is very much based on the rear.
“Every time I had not the rear ready, for me it was big trouble, I was complaining more than others.
“But now Honda has brought me what I wanted, and now I feel like the ball is in my court.”