Both Repsol Honda Team riders spent Saturday preparing for what is set to be a challenging Catalan GP, temperatures and tyre life two factors for Espargaro and Bradl to manage.
The heat was again unrelating in Barcelona, ambient temperatures climbing above 30°C as the tarmac crept towards 60°C. On track there was nowhere to hide as the pace also escalated, the outright lap record being broken several times during the day.
Saturday’s first session went well overall for Pol Espargaro, able to end the morning in the top ten for a spot in Q2. Victim to a crash at Turn 5 midway through Free Practice 3, Espargaro leapt to his feet immediately. His best time of 1’39.246 would come after the fall, his never give up attitude on full display. With his team working tirelessly over the midday break, Espargaro was able to continue FP4 and Qualifying with two RC213Vs. Hotter conditions in Q2 saw the home hero unable to improve on his overall best time, missing the mark by just 0.2s.
Tenth place on the grid will see the 30-year-old lead the Honda charge into Turn 1. Espargaro’s Q2 time from 2022 was 2.3 seconds faster than his lap from the previous year. Tyre management will be a key aspect of Sunday’s race.
On the other side of the Repsol Honda Team garage, Stefan Bradl continued his adaptation. Able to consistently improve his lap times in each session and tick off a number of important items for Honda HRC. Setting the 11th fastest time in Q1, the German will start Sunday’s 24-lap race from 21st on the grid ahead of Ducati test rider Michele Pirro.
Forecasts suggest a slight drop in temperature for Sunday, topping out at around 27°C at 14:00 Local Time – just when the race is scheduled to begin.