Pol Espargaro: Rejecting Suzuki changed my career forever

In the latest episode of Last On The Brakes, the MotoGP™ Podcast, factory Honda man Pol Espargaro opens up on the time he turned down Suzuki

All of the discussions surrounding contracts and rider moves very often remain in the shadows of MotoGP™. An underground, secret business that only a select few are lucky enough to watch play out every year. But now, for the first time, Repsol Honda's Pol Espargaro has shed some light on the time he turned down Suzuki.

Speaking on the latest episode of Last On The Brakes, the MotoGP™ Podcast with Matt Dunn and Fran Wyld, the Spaniard revealed all the details behind the Hamamatsu factory's approach and how his career consequently went down a different path as a result of that snub.

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"I don't know if I have talked about this many times," started Espargaro. "But when I was in my second year of MotoGP, well, my first, after my first year in MotoGP with Yamaha. I finished I think fifth, very close to fourth, which was Dovi on a Ducati. And then in that year, it was the year that Suzuki was coming back into the World Championship and I had an offer. I mean, we were talking with them.

"I got some promises from Yamaha and they were talking about, as you can imagine, the retirement of Valentino Rossi. And in that moment, I said after my first year being almost at the top, in the top five, 'okay, just wait, because maybe you're going to be in the factory team'.

"Then, the second year, it was not as good at Yamaha. I had super arm pump, I needed surgery in the middle of the season, I was in the Suzuka 8 Hour race and it was not a great, great year. And then I saw that Suzuki started to make some amazing results very, very fast. And in that moment, I said, ‘okay, you made the wrong choice, you should have moved when you had the opportunity'.

"'When you were strong, you should have moved to a new factory', I said to myself, because being a factory rider in MotoGP is important to learn and to grow as a rider. It teaches you many, many things. And then I said to myself when a new factory next comes come into MotoGP, I catch it! Sure, I'm going to catch it.

"Then I saw the project of KTM. And I said 'okay, Suzuki was different, they've been in MotoGP in the past, but KTM, they are fully new here'. But I said if I don’t take it and in the future they are winning or being on the podium and getting good results, I couldn’t live with myself."

A move from Yamaha to KTM, although difficult at the beginning, proved successful for Espargaro with a sensational five podiums in 2020 and, as a result, a move to the most successful team in MotoGP™ history: Repsol Honda.

To hear more from the 2013 Moto2™ World Champion on topics like battling week-in week-out with his now teammate Marc Marquez, plus why his title-winning year wasn’t all that fun, then head to either MotoGP™'s YouTube or your favourite podcast platform now for the latest episode of Last On The Brakes.

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