Jorge Lorenzo warns Espargaro he may regret KTM to Honda MotoGP move

Jorge Lorenzo says the KTM's growing competitiveness and Honda's focus on Marc Marquez will leave Pol Espargaro regretting impending 2021 MotoGP switch

Pol Espargaro - KTM Factory Racing , Jorge Lorenzo

Jorge Lorenzo says he reckons Pol Espargaro is regretting his decision to leave the KTM Factory Racing team in favour of Repsol Honda as MotoGP’s newest race winning manufacturer firmly establishes itself as a threat to its more seasoned rivals. 

Honda caused a stir in the weeks leading up to the start of the delayed 2020 MotoGP season by luring Espargaro from KTM to join its factory Honda RC213V alongside its six-time MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez for the 2021 MotoGP season.

However, with Marquez’s absence rather exposing Repsol Honda’s apparent reliance on its star performer – the title-defending team has amassed just 16 points from the first four races with Alex Marquez – HRC has turned to Espargaro strengthen its line-up.

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One rider that would know better than most about what Espargaro can expect is Lorenzo, the triple MotoGP World Champion spending just a single season with the team before ‘retiring’ at the end of 2019 midway through a two-year deal.

Warning Espargaro to anticipate a ‘complicated bike’ in the RC213V, Lorenzo also says he will need to assert himself with his needs rather than be forced to toe Marquez’s line.

“The RC213V is a complicated bike, especially at the front,” Lorenzo is quoted as saying by Motosprint. “There are riders who don't need to feel the front wheel as much and others for whom it is essential. In my case it has always been important to have that kind of stability and that's why I suffered more than other riders on this bike. 

“Today it seems that the bike is very extreme, because they went in the direction of Marquez ( who will not be present at the Styrian GP) and he has a very particular riding style ."

Why would Espargaro regret joining Honda over KTM?

While on paper Marquez’s success – not to mention Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi’s before him – makes a KTM to Honda switch appear a no-brainer, the second Honda RC213V is considered potential poisoned chalice in the context of his team-mate’s cast iron team leader status.

It’s a privilege that has prompted Honda to develop the RC213V towards his particular needs, which has worked perfectly while he’s remained fit but – as the 2020 season shows – can prove disastrous if he’s forced out through injury. 

To its credit, Honda has signed Espargaro for the primary purpose of giving it greater strength in depth, while Espargaro’s hustling and aggressive riding style appears better suited to the RC213V than most – if any – other riders.

To complicate matters, KTM has come out swinging in 2020 with not only a quick bike for Espargaro, but the strength in depth with Brno rookie race winner Brad Binder and the much improved Miguel Oliveira.

Indeed, he nor many would have anticipated KTM’s superb start to the season when he was mulling his Honda contract and it is this – coupled with his established team leader status – that Lorenzo thinks Espargaro will regret so long as KTM continues its trajectory and he sees the fruits of his labour since 2017 passed onto his successors.

“Pol is probably regretting leaving KTM. He won't admit it because his future team is Repsol Honda, but I don't know what he's thinking inside himself. The situation would make anyone think. 

“Pol has done the hardest work at KTM, as a company manager said the other day, and when things start working he'll ride a bike that looks like the only one who can take it in front of everyone is Marc Marquez.”