'Shocked' Espargaro Grapples with Erratic KTM in Rainy Motegi Race
The rain in Motegi proved less challenging for Pol Espargaro than the unpredictable behavior of his KTM, a mystery that persisted even after the race.
For the 32-year-old rider, the primary objective at the Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi was to maintain and build on his recent performance improvement.
However, his efforts in the race were thwarted. “The conditions were crazy right from the start. Maybe even too crazy. But what happened in the race really shocked me,” remarked the experienced Tech3 rider.
Espargaró’s struggle intensified as the race progressed. “From the first gear to the sixth, my rear wheel kept spinning uncontrollably. On the straight stretches, I was overtaken by all my competitors. It was a dreadful experience,” recounted the 2013 Moto2 World Champion.
He expressed how the situation left him deeply unsettled. “From first to sixth gear, my rear wheel was spinning immediately and continuously. On the straight, all my opponents were overtaking me. It was terrible.“
A faulty tire?
“Something like this has never happened to me before. I was getting slower and slower, and I was relieved when the red flag came out. “
“We absolutely need to analyze this carefully now. Maybe I overheated the tire in the first two laps. Or maybe I got a defective rubber. I have no idea.“
Despite being skilled in rainy conditions, Espargaró faced disappointment when the race was interrupted once again, dashing his hopes for a better outcome.
However, a crucial insight emerged during the out-lap of the second race attempt. “Suddenly, my motorcycle felt completely different with the new rear tire.”
“In the first part of the race, I had Map 3 programmed, which means minimal torque. For the restart, I switched to Map 1, maximum torque.“
On the limited track covered in the Japanese rain thereafter, the Catalan rider noticed a significant improvement. “Suddenly, my acceleration was twice as effective as before, and the bike was much more stable.”