Espargaro not ‘super nervous’ to get first MotoGP win

Pol Espargaro says he is not “super nervous” to score his maiden MotoGP win with KTM ahead of his switch to Honda in 2021, admitting his best chance to score a victory might already be gone.

Espargaro has been a part of KTM’s MotoGP team since its first season in 2017 and has been widely hailed for his role in turning the Austrian manufacturer into a potent force in the top echelon of motorcycle racing.

However, while rookie teammate Brad Binder managed to score the marque’s first victory in MotoGP at Brno – and Tech3 rider Miguel Oliveira added a second win to its tally in the second Red Bull Ring race – Espargaro is yet to stand on the top step on the podium.

The Spanish rider came close to winning the Styrian Grand Prix but ran wide at the last corner while battling with the Pramac Ducati of Jack Miller, allowing Oliveira to come through and take an unlikely victory.

Speaking ahead of the penultimate round of the season at Valencia, Espargaro said he is not too fussed about ending his KTM tenure with a victory, as he’s satisfied that he has shown race-winning potential several times during the campaign.

“Yeah, the victory – I’m not really super nervous to get it,” Espargaro said. “In Czech Republic before, Johann [Zarco] took us out of the track. I was there to fight for the victory. In Austria [Styrian GP] I was there till the last corner fighting with Jack [Miller] and first Austria I was going away in the first [half of the] race before the red flag.

“We had a lot of match balls, [but] for one thing or the other we couldn’t get it, but we could [have had]. This is what in the end I take as inside of me. For sure I want this victory, 100%.

“But I have the feeling we have not the easy chance we had in other places. Like in Czech Republic we had a real clear advantage on the bike, on the setting, on the tyre, whatever was working better for us than the others. And also in Austria.

“Here [in Valencia] on the last weekend I was really on the limit on the laps behind the Suzukis and I never had the feeling that I could win the race. They had something else and when they were pushing and I was really on the limit just to follow them. So I had no chance to overtake them.

“Saying that I will try this weekend and in Portimao to the maximum. But it’s not gonna be easy, it’s gonna be very very tricky.”

Espargaro is locked in a tight battle for seventh place in the championship with top Honda rider Takaaki Nakagami following his fourth podium finish last time out in the European GP, holding a slender one-point lead over the LCR rider.

Espargaro said KTM has usually proven to be strong whenever MotoGP has made a second visit to the same track, but is unsure if the marque has the same scope of improvement this time after finishing third behind the two Suzukis in the first Valencia race last weekend.

“We are really strong in the second races,” he said. “In Misano, we struggled very much in the first one, on the podium in the second one. Aragon we struggled so much, we’ve been close to the podium in the second one.

“But this is different. We didn’t struggle in the first, we actually were quite good behind the Suzukis. We need to improve but I don’t feel we have a huge margin.

“For sure we are seventh in the championship, super close to Taka. And Taka is gonna be very fast this weekend I have a feeling. Let’s see we can beat them and just keep going up in the championship which is good at the end of the year”

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