After the Portuguese Grand Prix, Marc Marquez and Pol Espargarò sat down and commented on the start of their new adventure together in the Repsol Honda team. Even though they have known each other since they were children, this last weekend was their first time sharing the box in the world championship. Above you can see the video and read the interview below
How was your first GP as teammates after knowing one another for so many years?
Marc: “It may not have been the best Grand Prix in terms of results. Nor the results we would have liked to debut with as teammates. But in my case I think it was very positive. Honestly, I was not paying much attention to my teammate as I had enough work to be done on my side of the box, but it was good. We exchanged opinions and hopefully in the future we can both continue to improve.”
Pol: “We would have liked to have placed higher and to have had a much more complete weekend. Luck was not on our side, but you have to be positive and favourable races are coming up for both of us and I think we can place much higher in them.
You've been rivals for a long time, what is good about being teammates?
Marc: “The good thing about sharing a garage with Pol is that we have known each other since we were children competing in promotion cup competitions, he was always the one who won because he was older and from there. I arrived we'll regroup. We learned from each other in one 125cc and Moto2. Being able to share a team means that we can learn things from each other. Having a strong teammate helps you to raise your game. And helps you to push a little bit more each day to be the top rider in the garage. The highest-placed Honda. And the man to beat with that bike.”
What are your thoughts on the Portuguese GP?
Pol: “It was a difficult weekend. Because it is not an easy track. It is one of the most difficult of the season arriving at a circuit with those characteristics without being 100% adapted to the bike in my case made things quite difficult for me. I had a crash on Saturday before qualifying. That put me quite a way back on the starting grid. And then we had a mechanical problem during the race. We weren’t so lucky this weekend, even though things are improving. I can see where the limits are and the potential of this bike. With Mark's return, we are all more positive as he is the one who's been riding this bike the longest and has the most experience on it.”
Marc: “In my case it was a weekend full of emotions and above all one of experiences. That I had not yet had in my sporting career. I enjoyed it. I suffered but I also had a good time, when the race finished I had a feeling of relief and liberation. And having been able to work with the team for the whole weekend.”
What do you think about the upcoming Spanish GP at Jerez?
Marc: “My fitness is my limitation, but it will be a slightly easier circuit at least to start with because at Portimao my crew didn't have references. And I'd never ridden there with this bike. And here as we do have references we've raced there for many years and this will help us at the beginning but logically going fast will be down to whether my arm has improved a lot or not. It also depends on us trying to adapt the bike a little to my riding style, as over this last year things have been changing although it may not seem like it. “
Pol: “For us it will be a starting point because I think that up until Jerez all the circuits have not been favourable for us. Qatar is historically a hard circuit for Honda and Portimao one of the toughest, if not the toughest of the season, so Jerez is like starting on friendly terrain for everyone. In addition Stefan Bradl and the test team have ridden many laps there and have gathered a lot of data during pre-season.”
Marc Marquez: “I have already recovered but now on a mental level I’m thinking of Jerez.”
What were the first feelings you had on Friday when you went out on the track after nine months away?
Marc: “I had work to do everywhere honestly, I knew how to ride the bike but it was very fast. And I was breaking heavily with the carbon brakes. Work was a little overwhelming but the tension came more when I stopped in the pits. I had tension built up from the previous days of knowing that I was going to get back on a bike and be able to ride laps at the beginning of FP1.”
How would you rate your performance at your first GP of the season?
Marc: “On a sporting level it was much better than I could have expected. One thing is what you want to do and logically I want to win races and fight for victories. But another is to be realistic. And I knew what my fitness would be like. I didn't go there 100% fit and I'm still not 100% fit but it is progress. It was the step that I had to make in my recovery to get on a MotoGP bike again. We started from sixth on the grid and in the race holding back a lot. I was able to finish seventh 13 seconds behind the winner. It was a very positive weekend in terms of our speed.”
How did you feel physically? What was it like on Sunday after the race and on Monday physically?
Marc: “I have already recovered. On a mental level I'm thinking about Jerez and how to improve and how to get more points. But in terms of fitness, I now have two or three days of rest and recovery. I have to be careful at least for this next month. And then there will be time during the season to start pushing a little more on the fitness side.”
What will your training sessions during the week be like during these first few races?
Marc: “I'm a rider who likes to train at home, especially doing a lot of work with bikes. Motorcycle racing needs training on a motorcycle, but right now I can't do that. We will just go from race to race and when I'm at home have three days of recovery. Then I will have three days of fairly gentle gym work and try to keep in shape, but without looking to put on more weight than necessary since the doctors have recommended the effort I use with my arm has to be increased step by step. “
Pol Espargarò: “For me the Jerez GP is the beginning of what the real season is”
Do you think it is positive for you to have Marc back?
Pol: “Yes, I think it is positive for everyone from a technical side because of the improvements he makes to the bike. In the end there is no one better to develop a bike than the rider who has been on it the longest, who knows a little about its history, who knows it's weak and strong points and can enhance and improve them. Marc is the one who has carried out practically the entire process in recent years at Honda and he's going to solve the problems we have with much more ease and fluidity than I could with the little experience I have. It is evident that the pressure will be a little greater because he's going to set limits that are more difficult to reach but in the end that is what we riders want: to ride at the limit in order to improve.”
How do you think you have improved compared to the first two GPs in Qatar?
Pol: “Above all in my confidence, it seems a bit contradictory because crashes give you distrust at first, producing an uncomfortable feeling of a disconnection with your bike. But when looked at from a slightly more distant perspective, these crashes show you the limits of the bike. Every time I pick up the pace, I'm more and more competitive over a single lap. That is despite the fact, as I said, I'm still not able to complete a full lap without making mistakes, although I feel we have the speed.”
Physically, do you feel that you're at the level of what it takes to ride the Honda?
Pol: “Without a doubt, I've prepared thoroughly for this project. I've come in from a factory, where the bike was quite difficult to ride and I also had to be fit to handle it. I prepared myself thoroughly and I think that maybe I did a little more than what I needed.”
How do you see the Repsol Honda team after these three races?
Pol: “In terms of results, we hadn't set a limit for ourselves. As for the team, I knew practically everyone here and that already made me feel at home. I knew who they were, I talked to many of them and that gave me a certain piece of mind when I started, especially at the tests. I knew the treatment I was going to receive.”
Have you already coincided with Marc on track?
Pol: “Riding behind him, no I haven't had the chance yet. We did start very close to each other in qualifying but it was too far between us. We have ridden very little together and I hope that we get the chance soon to fight against one another in a race. This is what my dream would be.”
The next round will be at Jerez, a very special circuit for all Spanish riders…
Pol: “For me it is the beginning of what the real season is. We come from Qatar then Portimao, two difficult circuits. One because of its layout, the other because of the characteristics that are not perfect for the Honda. In addition, we come to Jerez at a time in which I already have experience and I know the bike and the team. It is a track where the test team rider Stephen Bradl has been putting in a lot of laps. That will make our work much easier if we have problems as we will know which paths to choose without wasting time, which is essential on race weekends. Without a doubt we will miss the support of the fans in the grandstands. That is very negative point for u, because when the fans are there it's like having somebody extra on the bike. We will miss that but I'm looking forward to this weekend.”