Honda Team riders spent Saturday preparing for what is set to be a challenging Catalan GP, temperatures and tyre life, two factors for Pol Espargaro and Stafan Bradl to manage.
The heat was again unrelenting in Barcelona, ambient temperatures climbing above 30°C as the tarmac crept towards 60°C. On track there was nowhere to hide as the pace also escalated, the outright lap record being broken several times during the day.
Saturday’s first session went well overall for Pol Espargaro, able to end the morning in the top ten for a spot in Q2. Victim to a crash at Turn 5 midway through Free Practice 3, Espargaro leapt to his feet immediately. His best time of 1’39.246 would come after the fall, his never give up attitude on full display. With his team working tirelessly over the midday break, Espargaro was able to continue FP4 and Qualifying with two RC213Vs. Hotter conditions in Q2 saw the home hero unable to improve on his overall best time, missing the mark by just 0.2s.
Tenth place on the grid will see the 30-year-old lead the Honda charge into Turn 1. Espargaro’s Q2 time from 2022 was 2.3 seconds faster than his lap from the previous year. Tyre management will be a key aspect of Sunday’s race.
On the other side of the Honda Team garage, Stefan Bradl continued his adaptation. Able to consistently improve his lap times in each session and tick off a number of important items for Honda HRC. Setting the 11th fastest time in Q1, the German will start Sunday’s 24-lap race from 21st on the grid ahead of Ducati test rider Michele Pirro.
“FP3 was quite good for us, even with the crash. Already we knew that the afternoon would be harder and I wasn’t able to be faster. I was losing most of my time braking into Turn 1, this is where my time went. Tenth was the best we could do finally in Qualifying. Tomorrow is going to be a tricky race; we will need to use the harder tyres and try to manage them – like everyone. The change in temperature is not a lot so finally the track will be greasy like today. Let’s see what happens and no matter what we will try out best for the home fans here!” said Honda rider Pol Espargaro. (ANI)