Pol Espargaro's signature by the Repsol Honda Team for the next two seasons has stolen headlines around the world and is undoubtedly the biggest rider market story of 2020. Here at motogp.com, we wanted to get the expert opinion of a man that knows the workings of Repsol Honda inside out - MotoGP™ Legend Alex Criville. The 1999 500cc World Champion will take a look at the positives and negatives from pairing the two Spaniards over the next two days, starting today with the positives. Will Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro form an unstoppable Spanish dream-team? Let's find out...
How can HRC benefit from Pol's vast Grand Prix and MotoGP™ experience?
"Pol is a rider who has more than 100 Grands Prix in the premier class, he's still reaching his best at 29-years-old, has been through Yamaha and KTM, he has so much experience so, next season, he can be a good ally for HRC. In addition, he's a rider who, due to his style, can adapt very well to the Honda: he fights with the motorcycle, forces the front end, a little like Marc Marquez in that aspect. He can adapt well and be competitive."
Why have Repsol Honda signed Pol Espargaro?
His similar style could mean they can adapt the RC213V in the same direction together?
"When you have two riders working in the same direction, the bike improves and everything improves: everything flows and it's much clearer than when you have two riders where one is working in one direction and the other in another. In this case, because of Pol Espargaro's style, the bike Pol is going to take is not going to change much from the one Marc Marquez is going to ride. Obviously, things can change but I think he can adapt very well."
Can Pol challenge Marc for the title and, therefore, are there similarities with the Doohan-Criville partnership?
"Well, he's a very aggressive rider, not very conservative, with a style that has always been similar to Marc's. I think he can fight with Marc, why not? They've signed him because they think he can be there fighting for the World Championship, rather than fighting against Marc. The first objective is to beat your teammate. If he can fight with his teammate, who is Marc Marquez, he is sure to fight for the World Championship. It reminds me a little of my time with Doohan. He was one of the best riders, one of the strongest of all time. I went in there a little iffy and in the end, little by little, I got closer to him and I got to fight with him, race with him and, in the end, we were a very competitive duo."
So can Pol ruffle Marc's feathers like you did with Doohan?
"I remember I joined as the second rider. It was clear that the structure was designed around Mick Doohan. I was there as one more, but then, based on training, data and work, I practically matched his riding and was able to do the same times as him. In that sense, Pol, who will have all of the information that Marc has, can perfectly try to be there, match the times, or at least be in the not too far behind. Perhaps the first season it'll be tough for him to match Marquez, but in the second there's no reason why he can't reach Marc's level."
Will the Espargaro-Marquez partnership go better than the Lorenzo-Marquez partnership?
"I think that Pol, due to the fact that he has a different riding style to Jorge, the fact that he fights with the bike more, will be more successful. He can't fall into the trap of arriving and doing Marc's times straight away. He has to adapt, let the riding flow a little and not want to do it all in the first season. But, it is also true that Pol arrives with a lot of desire. He's very hungry to be on a competitive bike, a World Championship winning bike, and have a partner as fast as Marc. For reference, Marc's times will help him a lot. If he is close to the times of his teammate, it will mean that Pol will be at the level to fight for the World Championship. For me, it's a good bet, a good move."
All the details behind Alex Marquez's move to LCR Honda
Can Alex Marquez's move to LCR Honda benefit Marc?
"Alex is a great rider, but he lacks experience in MotoGP™. It will be his first year and, yes, his brother may even benefit from the fact that he is not next to him, that he's not aware of him as such. For next season, perhaps it is better for Marc that Alex is in a satellite team with an official HRC bike, practically the same as Marc's, so that the bike can be developed and evolve across two different teams."
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