Pol Espargaro battled intense phsyical discomfort as the Repsol Honda Team begin the Dutch Grand Prix weekend in Assen, already facing wet and dry conditions.
The heat of Germany gave way to a wet and wild morning in the Netherlands as Round 11 of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship began. Starting with a soaking wet Free Practice 1, conditions would steadily improve during the course of the day and lead to an exciting close to the day as slicks were fitted.
Wet running in the morning saw Pol Espargaro looking confident and comfortable, consistently inside the top five and ending in third overall. The conditions also helped Espargaro to save his still healing ribs, the wet generally less physically demanding than a fully dry session. In the afternoon, the rain would ease and a dry line would quickly appear during Free Practice 2. After just a few laps on wet tyres, the majority of the field switched to slicks. A best time of 1’34.834 had the #44 19th on the combined times – 1.5 seconds shy of first. Espargaro’s major limitation comes from his injured ribs and pain in his back from compensating for the lack of strength, resulting in difficulties breathing.
Stefan Bradl showed his adaptability as the German was able to keep pace with the field in the wet. Ending the morning in 18th place, the HRC Test Rider continued to adapt and unlock the secrets of Assen in the afternoon. Unfortunately, a fall at Turn 9 towards the end of Free Practice 2 saw Bradl unable to improve beyond a 1’35.951 and ended the day in 24th. Further improvements and rebuilding his confidence after the fall are Saturday’s targets.
Weather conditions on Saturday look to remain mixed, but a dry Free Practice 3 session is crucial for the Repsol Honda Team who need to continue to make progress and close the distance to the top ten as well as assess Espargaro’s condition.