Factory KTM rider Pol Espargaro had an eventful race en-route to securing KTM's first ever MotoGP podium with a third place finish at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia.
After an impressive start, Espargaro highsided out of fourth position, in the awful conditions. Thankfully for the Spaniard, he was able to remount and continue in the race, albeit significantly further away from the podium than he was before. Shortly afterwards, the race was red flagged and the race was restarted.
After the re-start, Espargaro managed to fight into fourth. With it looking as if he would finish fourth and his wait for a MotoGP podium would continue, Valentino Rossi crashed out of second place, promoting the Spaniard into the top three for his historic podium, by just over a second.
"It's unreal. In the first race I felt good all weekend with wet conditions. Even in the dry, the track was not 100% but we tried. But in the wet I felt good, "said the 27-year-old from just outside Barcelona.
"I was playing all weekend with some Yamaha's and I was fast and I could do some good lap times and to be always in the top eight. This was building up my confidence a little bit all weekend.
"Then on the race, we have really good starts and my bike is amazing and I knew that when I released the clutch we had a good start, this was my first target, because the spray of water does not allow you to see much and in the first laps I did not want to lose so much time, because I knew that I had enough speed to be more or less there.
"Then I was fighting against Marc and I saw he had some problems with the rear tyre and I could see he was not having the same grip as me or the other guys. So I tried to overtake him on the inside, then the outside but Marc was breaking so hard and the Honda is so good at acceleration.
"For some reason I was so fast in T2 and when you are so fast in one place, you do not need to try harder in the place rather than others and I make an amazing crash. I was so wide and did a big highside and the bike was gone and I went from last till seventh or eighth.
"It was wild and I do not know how I did because I could not see much in the straight, the wind was huge, I had a problem with my neck because I could not manage the speed without the fairing.
"And then the red flag was a message, first because the bike was still on after this crash and then the red flag, so I said to myself man, this is your opportunity, just take it. In the second race, I had new tires, maybe I should continue with the middle front because I was struggling with the brakes.
"In the first race I was really good on the breaks but they were new and they were safe and after the crash to build up my confidence it was difficult, so I just pushed. Valentino was super fast, unliveable fast, he just left and I just stayed in this position safe.
"Someone started to catch me and I fight with Dani, finally I finished in that third position. After everything went through this year, it's unreal. "
Espargaro's podium rounded out a perfect day for the orange brand, with victories in Moto3 and Moto2 with Can Oncu and Miguel Oliveira respectively. Espargaro said he did not feel pressure, but wanted to make the most of his strong pace all weekend.
"I was looking at the TV when I was waiting for my race," he said.
"I was a little bit scared in my chair; Looking at the weather and seeing these guys do these amazing races. In Moto3 this young kid, doing an unbelievable race in the hard conditions and them Miguel standing in front of all his fans, also doing this crazy race, gapping all the others.
"I said 'you will look ridiculous if you do not do something good'. Then I saw Ernest Riveras [of Movistar’s MotoGP coverage] say I had some chance and see what Pol can do, and I was they're saying 'no man, that's not going to happen'.
"Finally we did it, just super happy with the result for KTM. They deserve it; you do not know how much effort, investment and money on that project and for them to finish the year in this position.
"We are trying to be as fast as their dirt guys in MX, winning everything in all the categories, and the road bikers, we are a little bit behind. I am just happy to show we have some power. "
On the cool down lap on the way to the podium, Espargaro was emotional, crying as he reached Parc Ferme. When asked how this podium compared to the other big achievements in his MotoGP career, Espargaro said: "In Moto2 and 125 I was winning and in the podium and constantly there.
"Us humans are so stupid because we get used to the good things when it happens. Then when I was world champion you enjoy it so much and yeah its amazing, because you've been winning you touch it so much, it's emotional, but not like what we did today.
"What we did today was so difficult and we've had so many times with this new bike, the KTM, its so unreal that it makes these super emotional and I think it was more emotional than winning a World Championship, even though it was just a third place, it's been amazing. "