It’s not very often we’d say a 3rd place is a better outcome for a rider than 1st. It might sound a little crazy but Pol Espargaró’s 3rd place at the Styrian Grand Prix is exactly the outcome he needed.
Again a little bit of controversy related to Pol, Suzuki calling for him to penalised for using the ‘green’ on the last corner but we’ll touch on that bit at the end.
More than a Pass Mark
We have been critical of the 2013 Moto2 world champion of late, rightly so too. It hasn’t just been his on-track performances, some of his off track carry on has let him down and won no fans either.
This was not the case last weekend. While there were still a few small mistakes under pressure and he was on the receiving end of the bit of luck, he delivered a great pole position and a much-needed podium in Sunday’s race.
Even more pleasing was the fact that he finally left his excuse book at home! What a pleasant change.
Pol was measured and humble in defeat. His post-race interview was brilliant, accepting his defeat as just good hard racing. He also gave credit and commiserations to Joan Mir as he was robbed of a certain victory by the red flag.
He even gave his congratulations to race winner Miguel OLIVEIRA who he had been engaged in an off-track spat following the previous weekend’s clash.
To top it all off, in the official press conference he was smiling and happy.
A very important element to success in any sport or life itself for that matter, is the ability to accept defeat. When stripped back, pulling out the excuse book, not being humble in defeat and not taking responsibility for your own mistakes is nothing more than a lack of ability to accept your own flaws.
We improve by working on our flaws and weaknesses, not from working on our strengths. The first step is to accept them.
Why 3rd is better for him than the win
Our philosophy on this may be a little left of field. However, if Pol had won last weekend it would have been reward for a performance that was still a little flawed. Reward for some questionable lead up behaviour and reward for a bit of luck.
This might be ok for a rider capable of winning occasionally or in rare circumstances, but we believe Pol has the talent to be a regular contender. He just needs a head on his shoulders to match his ability.
Sunday’s 3rd place was still a great result, enough to deliver some much-needed confidence and inner belief but not so much that it would go to his head.
It was a result that gave him a real taste of fighting for the win in MotoGP, yet a reminder of just how hard it is.
1. The biggest mistake came from his team rather than Pol himself. But they are a team and need to work together on it. Showing +0 on his pit board rather of the actual 0.3 it was on the last lap was a big mistake. Furthermore, the previous lap they should also should +0 when it was in fact +0.2.
For a rider, the difference in seeing +0.2 with 2 laps remaining and then +0.3 on the last lap compared with +0 on both laps is huge! Especially when it is being showed to the rider who had set the fastest lap of the race and has better pace than anyone else. The mind set shift is massive, as too is how they need to approach that last lap.
Showing +0 instead of +0.3 to a rider who has been under immense pressure in the lead up… hmmm big mistake. If you were going to relay inaccurate information it should give more confidence not more pressure.
Still the job of the team is to relay accurate information and leave the rest to the rider. That’s what they should have done.
2. This one needs to be forgiven. Pol slightly overcooked the turn 3 apex while attempting to block the line on the way in. He was right to block because he saw +0 on his board. However he over did it, but that’s racing under a lot of pressure and he will learn from it.
3. When our man (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!) Jacky boy shoved it up the instead in the final corner. Pol would have been better to concede early and do the up and under, just like Dovi has done many times to Marc. Similar to what race winner OLIVEIRA did, he could read what was going to happen and bided his time.
Still hats off to Jack and Pol for having a red hot crack and providing us with massively entertaining racing, it was so bloody good.
Let’s hope the Pol Espargaró we saw last weekend is the one we see more often than not in the future.
Track limits are again in the news. Suzuki and Mir are calling for Pol to have been penalised. In Moto2 race direction penalised Jorge MARTIN for exceeding track limits in the last corner (just) and he lost the win because of it. Mir himself ran off at turn 1 and needed to give the place back, yet Pol received no penalty.
Our view is that both Mir and Martin exceeding track limits all on their own without any help from anyone else. Pol was forced wide by Miller. Miller did nothing wrong either, just hard racing. Last corner, last lap.
Apparently the rule is if you use the green on the last lap you must lose a position. Pol went into the last turn 1st and came out 3rd so we’d leave it alone
What’s you view?