Pol Espargaro says he is “thankful” that electing for an all or nothing approach in the French Grand Prix resulted in a third rostrum of the year for the Spaniard.
Having struggled to match the three leading Ducati’s and Alex Rins’ Suzuki in the early stages, Espargaro’s KTM came alive mid-way through the 26 lap contest-allowing him to post several fastest laps at that point of the race and close on the front-runners.
Although unable to hold off the charging Alex Marquez’s factory Honda in the latter segment of the encounter, he passed a fading Andrea Dovizioso for third on the penultimate tour to complete the podium positions.
While admitting KTM’s day could have been even better had he elected to go with a different tyre choice, Espargaro was happy to survive the early laps when the track “was like ice”.
“It was tough, you don’t know what is going to happen and you have more chance of crashing than finishing the race,” explained Espargaro.
“It was amazing, on the grid I was very close to putting on the medium front and I think this would have been really good for us with the medium rear, we ended up going with the safer option and it worked so I’m happy with that position after a crazy day.
“I couldn’t believe how fast the leaders were at the beginning, for me it (track surface) was like ice, I couldn’t manage the front or rear and I was nearly high-siding on the exit of every corner.”
Espargaro described how his RC16 all of a sudden came alive mid-way through the race, giving him the confidence to “just send it” due to any realistic chance of securing a maiden MotoGP title being “gone.”
“Then suddenly at the mid-point of the race I started to feel more comfortable and could lean a bit more, and then saw I could match the others and even catch a bit under braking,” continued Espargaro.
“I then said to myself ‘just send it’, I have nothing to lose and the championship is gone so I just needed to go for the podium so I started to push.
“I had a couple of moments but I was able to save them, then at the end it everything or nothing and thankfully we got the glory.”
The 2013 Moto2 world champion is 42 points away from leader Fabio Quartararo in the overall points with just five races remaining in 2020, meaning he would likely some element of luck to get back firmly in the championship chase.
Espargaro’s podium result at least vaulted him from 13th in the riders standings to eighth in one fell swoop, passing fellow KTM men Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira in the process.