Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Will Espargaró be able to ride the Honda?

MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.


Will Espargaró be able to ride the Honda?

Pol Espargaró joins Repsol Honda from KTM, where he was the strongest rider on the factory’s V4. Does that mean he will be fast on the RC213V V4? And what do HRC need to do to make the bike better?

You won’t find many MotoGP riders that prefer a fire-breathing V4 to an easy-going inline-four, but Pol Espargaró is one of them.

Espargaró contested his first three seasons in MotoGP with Yamaha, but he didn’t enjoy the YZR-M1 and failed to score a single podium on the bike. In 2017 he joined KTM’s all-new MotoGP project and last year he was KTM’s top points scorer on the RC16, with five podiums

“I don’t like the feeling of a bike that controls everything you do, like the Yamaha,” he told me during an interview at Motegi in 2019. “You cannot over-brake and you cannot open the throttle a bit early. This isn’t fun. For me to go fast I need to fight.

“The first day I jumped on the KTM at Valencia in 2016 the bike was honestly a disaster but I had the feeling that it was wild and I love this. I like the feeling that the bike can throw you into the sky at any moment. I’ve been injured doing that, but I like this wildness and I really enjoy fighting.”

Engine configuration has a huge effect on the dynamics of a MotoGP bike. This blog has already examined this subject in detail but basically, the inline-four’s longer crankshaft makes the bike slower and more stable, while the V4’s shorter crankshaft makes the bike more powerful and twitchier.

Espargaró enjoys V4s because by preparing well physically and mentally and by riding in a certain way, there’s more for the rider to invent. Also a V4 is a better battle bike because while inline-four riders want the bike nicely settled so they can sweep through corners with huge speed V4 riders can dive to the apex, flick the bike on its side, pick it up and gas it out. This has obvious advantages when you’re defending or attacking.

There’s no doubt that Espargaró knows how to get the most out of a V4. The big question now is how will he go on Honda’s RC213V?

Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.

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Comments

Short answer, yes. Well said Mr O.

Will Marquez be at the first race? Likely. The 2021 Honda that Marc gets on, he will FAR prefer it to the last one he got tossed off of. New front tire will bring a slight fore-aft balance improvement. More importantly Honda has been forced to change curse, er, course, on bike design. About time. Pol will do well, and I wish him the best. Marc will be well, and I wish all the other teams the best besting him. The kid is FANTASTIC. Now he has a bike that has returned into acceptable balance and rideability margins (albeit against the wishes and plans of HRC management...is this related to your Save Button placement somehow David? Nudge and tease. I bet you have tried to correct a double post tendency blip so reverted. That was about the delay time, it looks like nothing is happening, so readers think they have to click twice. The old Preview etc function changes where the delay happens. BUT, don't forget it was problematic too - including entirely lost posts). Stay upright Skittle. Welcome back Honda. Good timing Pol. 

And now to you, Yamaha. Pinpoint staring at what bike you are putting together for 2021, most particularly the situation with valves. You get the "touring bike" reliability award on your 3 engine season dim wick endurance racing. Question: can you run the new valves now, penance being the points penalty last year? (My assumption). Or will there be trouble afresh when you don't have the first set back in, from a manufacturer no longer working with you? (How could that be?). How sh*t will your outright power be? (They aren't expected by anyone to exceed acceptably sh*t, are they?). The new tires are carvers. Not worried about your chassis, betting you have it corrected AND know the mechanism of "high grip test" selection error to fix. Motor? Valves? Still a question mark. Hoping it isn't for YOU still. Betting wick is back up and better valves get to stay without comment from Dorna, and your power is now just poor but manageable. Everyone on a 2019 but evolved frame. Lots of stuff to test. Glad you have workhorse Cal, Euro Test Team coming on line. So forth.

Then that wee matter of the second set of Suzukis for Fausto or Vale. Suzuki is more Italian than one might assume. Popcorn at the ready and plenty of it. 

Has me doing a rewatch of an old favorite Moto2 battle, here is a couple minutes of highlites - Marc vs Pol, gloves off, Estoril...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0DdREtCmiVk

Most important is that HRC finally explained their approach to give their top rider more regardless of how the rest of their riders were affected. Not only that but this year they shifted their approach to make their machine better suit the rider line-up they have left after Marc. That they clearly achieved progress towards the end of the season suggests that their new approach is the right way. This is very different from Ducati, who merely dismissed their best riders since Stoner (Lorenzo and Dovi). Meanwhile, I think Pol will do well with HRC and win some races if he's truly the rider Oxley described.