Now we’ve let the turkey digest, it’s time to crack on with our countdown of the 2020 MotoGP Riders of 2020 with Pol Espargaro landing in fourth position.
If there was an award in MotoGP simply for which rider has put in the hardest graft in recent years, then it would surely go to Pol Espargaro who saw the fruits of his labour bloom in 2020 as KTM went from mid-grid at best to tips for wins.
While one could point to the arrival of Dani Pedrosa as a motivating force behind KTM’s breakthrough 2020 MotoGP season, Espargaro has been the talisman for the project from the beginning and deserves a lot of the credit for the manufacturer’s success this year.
Of course, the biggest headlines for KTM didn’t come courtesy of him with Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira instead getting the plaudits for their podium topping performances. However, it was the Spaniard that proved the most trusted hand over the course of a year, finishing fifth overall.
Espargaro had his moments to shine too, including KTM’s first pole positions – an achievement he managed twice in 2020 – and five podiums from 14 races, a tally only title winner Joan Mir could exceed.
Moreover, it could have been so much better for Espargaro had he not collided with Johann Zarco in Brno while chasing down leader Franco Morbidelli in a race his team-mate would end up winning, while he might have won either of the Austrian races had a red flag in the first not stuttered his progress and he timed his final corner attack in the second better.
While there were some costly mistakes at times during the first half of the season, Espargaro was metronomically consistent towards the end with a quartet of top four finishes from the final four rounds lifting up the order and earning the factory outfit third in the teams’ standings.
For 2021, Espargaro might be wondering whether he’s bet on the right horse by swapping shades of orange for the new season but either way it will still be KTM’s loss, Honda’s gain.