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The Motul TT Assen began under grey skies, rain falling just before the MotoGP™ World Championship set off and guaranteeing a wet race. Opening laps were cautious and Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) tiptoed his way around, getting inside the top ten before a mistake dropped him down the order. He was making progress until the red flag came out due to weather conditions, a decision Espargaro feels should have been made earlier. In the restart Espargaro was able to use the soft tyre and made a much better start, a number of crashes ahead soon promoting him to a provisional podium spot.
"I can say that I believe I have been competitive in wet conditions for the first time since I’ve been in MotoGP" Pol Espargaro
Then his great Moto2™ rival Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) was with him, Espargaro doing all he could to hold him off. But Redding’s confidence in the wet was too much for Espargaro, the Spaniard content with second given the struggles both the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP had. Fourth place equals Espargaro’s best ever MotoGP™ finish and is now only seven points behind Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in the championship standings. He now heads to Japan for a Suzuka 8 Hour test.
Pol Espargaro: “To come away from a tricky event like today with a fourth position in conditions that were completely wet, is like a dream for us. Of course there is a bittersweet taste in my mouth as I just missed out on the podium again, yet with all the crashes that we saw, I had to be careful and think about the Championship. In addition, Scott was clearly faster and able to push a lot more on the front tyre. In the second race we could use the softer rear compound and my feeling with the bike was much better straight away. Therefore, I can say that I believe I have been competitive in wet conditions for the first time since I’ve been in MotoGP. However my legs, arms, fingers, neck and whole body are now aching from the huge tension that we had while riding in these conditions. I must admit that I wished the GP was red flagged a bit sooner because it really was becoming dangerous to ride during the heavy rain.
“Anyway, the bike worked well, and the only issue we had to face was that, compared to the other manufactures, we struggled to get a feeling with the front tyre. The crashes from Valentino, my teammate and Jorge’s race underline how tough it is for us to find the limit at the front end, so it was challenging to fight with the Honda and Ducati riders. Yet, this result is another important step in the right direction for my standings in the Championship and we have started to open a gap on the other satellite riders and also reduce the gap to Vinales. So we will continue to push and we’ll remain focused so that hopefully, we can finish in a better position before the end of the season.”
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