Espargaro ‘super-happy’, Zarco ‘trying to adapt because he has to’

Pol Espargaro gives another tantalising glimpse of the KTM’s potential at Mugello, but it’s another tough day for Johann Zarco
Espargaro ‘super-happy’, Zarco ‘trying to adapt because he has to’

It was once more a tale of mixed emotions in the Red Bull KTM garage following qualifying for the 2019 Italian MotoGP as Pol Espargaro gave another glimpse of the RC16’s potential as team-mate Johann Zarco sent his into the scenery at Mugello.

Riding the confidence of a best-yet result for KTM at Le Mans, Espargaro has been one of the headline grabbers in Italy so far, showing the RC16 to be competitive at the high-speed Italian venue despite fears its engine – an Achilles heel previously – would slow it down.

However, its most recent upgrade has been working well this weekend, with Espargaro again able to unlock its potential to set the second quickest time in FP3, only a fraction off going under last year’s pole position lap record.

Come Q2, Espargaro’s challenge faded right back to 11th place, but the Spaniard put this down to a consequence of windier conditions that proved sensitive to the bike’s otherwise solid setting. With this in mind, he is confidence he can gain ground in race conditions.

“I’m more than satisfied. The lap-time we did this morning was outstanding and I feel super-proud of what we are doing. I wanted to do better in the afternoon but if there is a small change then we pay for it quite hard. It was quite windy in some parts of the track in the afternoon and with the change of direction I could not move the bike.

“I was hitting T1 even faster than the morning lap but I was losing it through T2, 3, 4: more than four tenths of a second there. Honestly though I am super-happy and looking forward to tomorrow because I think we have better pace than what we are showing. It will be a fun race.”

By contrast, Zarco saw his hopes of faring better than 19th end when he crashed at the end of Q2, his second damaging smash of the weekend.

Insisting he is ‘trying to adapt’ to the bike rather than change it to his liking, Zarco intimated the crash was ultimately result of doing so.

“I tried to adapt myself as much as possible to the bike to use different lines and different places to brake and open the throttle – because this is what I have to do.

"Pol is going very well this morning and this means he has good confidence and this is possible on the bike and I am trying to change myself to do it. I need to learn and keep pushing for the race.”