“Year by year this part safety meeasures have been considered more and more important, and the experience is also good to understand which is the best material, and you learn to take care about this in detail.”
PIONEERS Project has been lucky enough to be able to interview Pol Espargaró.
Pol Espargaró is a World Champion in Moto2 (2013) and has been racing in Moto GP since 2014. This season he runs with the KTM team.
QUESTION: You are in KTM since 2017 season, so this is your 3rd year. After firsts races, are you more comfortable this season? The results seems to be better …
POL: One thing that normally people don’t realize is that MotoGP is a really difficult category, the most important and demanding in terms of technology, with the best riders, and the best factories, factories that never stop the development work. So, honestly speaking, been where we are with a less than three years bike is like a miracle. Obviously, when you are competing you want more and you never think in these kind of stuff. Talking about 2019, I think we have made a really good step forward, I feel much better, also in terms of physical condition, because last year it was a disaster, with a surgery in February, and then the big injure in August. The point is that pushing 100 per cent, as usual, we can be much more closer. Comfortable? When the others are ahead of you, you never feel completely comfortable… But I’m satisfied and I think, or hope, that we are going to grow even more during the season.
QUESTION: Let’s talk about motorcycle circuits. Which are your three favorites circuits? You are from Granollers, close to Montmelo. Surely Montmelo will be one of thems. So what tracks are the other 2 favorites ones.
POL: Let say like this: Montmeló is the most special circuit, it can’t be closer from where I grew up. Although is not my favorite lay out… The one I prefer is Phillip Island, in Australia. I love that place, everything, the atmosphere, the island, the lay out, and I can be really fast there. Then I also enjoy a lot in places like Assen or Le Mans, and also riding in front of our fans at Jerez, Aragón and Valencia.
“My favorite circuit is Phillip Island, in Australia. I love that place, everything, the atmosphere, the island, the lay out, and I can be really fast there”
QUESTION: Speaking in safety terms. Which are the 3 circuits where you race with more safety?
POL: Luckily we are reaching a really top level in terms of safety, Dorna is really aware of that and every Friday we, the MotoGP riders, have a meeting with them and we check every detail and try to improve and push the circuits authorities to make them as safest as possible. It’s difficult to find the three safer tracks, but we already are concerned about different points that will need a change in the future to increase the safety. For example, during the last Italian GP we discussed about the last part of the straight, where the bikes can reach a speed higher tan 350kph and where there is a little up and down that could be a little bit dangerous.
QUESTION: As a motorcycle racer, what importance do you give to the PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment) you wear: Helmet, suit, etc.?
POL: It’s one of the most important things. I have had many crashes and for sure I have had much less injuries because of my PPE. The day before Qatar GP starts we have to bring to the FMI stewards the things we are going to use during the season to be homologated, and all of them are mandatory: leather suit, gloves, boots, helmet, and back and chest protectors. The leather suit must equip an airbag system (to protect collarbones, neck and back). Every time this airbag explodes we have to change it. Safety is something where Dainese and AGV, my brands, are really concerned. For example, this season they asked in which place of the leather I think it would be good to put another airbag. We check the equipment every day, so you can imagine how important it is.
QUESTION: As a leisure biker. Do you give the same importance to the PPE’s you wear: Helmet, suit, etc.
POL: For sure: helmet, gloves, a good jacket with the proper professional protections, proper shoes… It’s not so difficult to be aware about this and this can make the difference if you have an accident.
QUESTION: You are a young racer (28 years) but you have been racing in World Championship from 2006 (125 cc). Has changed your point of view towards safety measures in this 13 years?
POL: One important thing is that I have used this safety material since the first time I pushed on a bike. And I feel that all the young riders are really worried about what they use. It’s also true that year by year this part it has been considered more and more important, and that the experience is also good to understand which is the best material, and you learn to take care about this in detail.
QUESTION: Our project is ambitious and we want to contribute to reducing the dead up to 25% in 2025. To achieve this goal, in addition to improve the performance of protection measures, we need to increase the rate of use of PPEs. To do this we will try to get racer to help us. How do you think racers can help us?
POL: We crash and we stand up every weekend. But people must understand that we can do that because of the PPE and because we are riding inside circuits that are really prepared for safety issues. We are not kamikazes, so we try to do our jobs in the safest way possible. But a road is not a circuit, so people must understand that this vehicle is really amazing, and you have to enjoy it not risking your safety, or the others’ safety. If you want to be fast, do it in a track. And also people must understand that to ride you need a bike, but also a helmet, gloves, good protections. I think is stupid to forget this. I would never jump on a bike if I don’t feel safe before that.
“We are not kamikazes, we try to do our jobs in the safest way possible”
QUESTION: We have talked about 2 fundamental aspects to reduce accidents: The performance of PPE or On-Board Safety Systems and the usage of these measures. We need to talk about the third aspect: Driving. What do you think should be the measure to be applied in this area: More driving training to motorcyclist, more awareness of the riders or more awareness of the rest of the drivers on the road?
POL: It’s a little bit of these three matters. You need to control your bike. When you drive a car you can also live difficult moments, but at least you have a structure that protects you; in a bike is your body. The best you can control the bike, the safer you will feel. And, like with all the vehicles, you need to drive with all your senses, really aware about what you are doing. And also I think it’s important to educate all the drivers to have the most respectful coexistence of all the different types of vehicles, making also the car driver understand that a bike is much more fragile, so it’s important to consider this when you are driving.
LAST QUESTION: Do you dare to make a Moto GP forecast? Which pilot will win? Who will be the second? What will be the surprise of the season?
POL: Well, it seems that again Marc is the man to beat… Every season is more mature, so this makes him better, he’s still really young, so he’s in a perfect shape, and he has a really good team and (it seems) bike. So he is the favourite. And also it looks like Dovi is the one who is closer to Marc, although I see also Rins and the Suzuki really strong. Right now we can say that Quartararo is the surprise in MotoGP, ¡although I would love to be the surprise at the end of the season! Me, and the KTM.