Espargaro "cannot give advice" to Zarco on KTM transition
Pol Espargaro says he "cannot give advice" to MotoGP teammate Johann Zarco about how to best handle his tricky transition to life as a KTM rider.
Zarco, who made the move to KTM from Tech 3 Yamaha, has endured a tough first two races aboard the RC16 bike, finishing 15th in both Qatar and Argentina.
The Frenchman admitted after the Termas de Rio Hondo race last month that "everything I do is not working" and that his struggles with his new machinery left him feeling "exhausted".
KTM motorsport boss Pit Beirer said during the Qatar weekend that the Austrian manufacturer's star signing has taken longer than expected to get up to speed, with Espargaro having so far scored 10 points this year to Zarco's two.
Espargaro believes Zarco needs to learn to take such comments on the chin - pointing out the barbs that Beirer aimed and both him and then-teammate Bradley Smith in previous years.
"This is a factory team, it comes with good salary, good bike, good attention but also big expectations," said Espargaro. "A rider who is here needs to handle everything.
"I know Johann is a very good rider, is talented, he is calmer than me, so I cannot give him any advice because I think he is gonna handle it better than me.
"Pit [criticised] me and Bradley last year and is doing [the same] with Johann, but what Pit is saying is to try and make us better. We need to take it in that direction, not in another way."
He added: "For sure Johann needs time to get adapted to the bike and I am sure he is really fast.
"He did the pole in Qatar last year and he's been in the podium last year here [in Argentina] so we cannot say that Johann is not a good rider. We all need to remember that Johann's been at the top of the level in MotoGP. He needs time, he will arrive."
Espargaro however stopped short of saying Zarco's task to adapt to the KTM is a taller order than his own job developing the KTM from scratch in 2017.
"You cannot believe, comparing the bike now to how it was the bike in Qatar the first year," he said.
"This bike was coming from a white paper, nothing was made on this bike and we needed to develop a bike from zero and this was so hard.
"A lot of crashes that I had, I'm not saying it was because of the bike but it was because I need to go so on the limit that sometimes it happens.
"For sure Johann now gets a much better bike than what we had in the beginning [of the project], but for sure it's not good enough for his level and not good enough to be on the positions he was in the past."
Espargaro remains convinced that it's only a matter of time before KTM is able to fight for top positions, having been boosted by his 10th-place finish in Argentina.
"We are in this team from the beginning, knowing that the bike was new and knowing that we had to work a lot to be in the top, but we are doing it," he continued.
"And if you check the papers we are much closer than in Qatar first race ; if we continue in this line we're gonna be soon at the top."
Pol Espargaro, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Photo by: Gold and Goose / LAT Images
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