Fernandez impresses on his way to a qualification sixth

2023-03-27 03:19
At a track that Ruben Fernandez admitted wasn’t his favourite, the Team HRC rider put in an impressive ride in the MXGP of Sardegna qualification race to finish sixth and maintain his second place in the 2023 MXGP World Championship standings.

With a week of successful sand training sessions under his belt, the #70 headed to Riola Sardo, buoyed by both his victory at the MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina and how much he had improved in the deep dune sand. In the free practice session, he took his time to re-familiarise himself with the treacherous Riola Sardo circuit before going out in timed practice and immediately putting in a time to challenge those at the top. Having a ‘purple sector’ for a lot of the session, he was visibly more comfortable than he’s ever looked before and ended up fifth, which set himself up nicely for the qualification race.

Narrowly avoiding a first turn pile-up, Fernandez put in a great first lap to quickly move into fourth place, before settling into a pace with those around him. For the first half of the race, he rode a smart race, not taking too many chances on what is always a difficult track to negotiate. But a couple of mistakes by those in front, suddenly put him third place and with second within view, he twisted the throttle to close up and make his move. Unfortunately, as he went to pass the ride in second, he tucked the front end and dropped a few positions. Remounting in sixth, he still had work to do to hold off the chasing pack, but showing remarkable coolness under pressure, especially having just dropped some places, he brought it home in sixth to give him five valuable championship points.

It also gives him another good gate-pick for tomorrow’s races which count for the championship and the actual GP overall. This is where he was successful at round one, going five-one for the top step of the podium after a fourth place in qualification, and the hope is that he’ll be able to repeat that sort of performance here and continue his great start to the 2023 world championship.

Ruben Fernandez 70

I was really happy with my riding today, feeling so much better than I’ve ever felt when riding here. In the qualification race, I had to avoid another rider in turn one, after a good jump out of the gate. This slowed me a bit but I was still able to make some good passes in turn two and then on the rest of the first lap. I had a good speed going and was happy where I was, but near the end I saw I was gaining on second place so I tried to make the move but the low sun just caught me out a bit and dropped the bike in the turn. It was a shame but I’m still very positive for tomorrow where I know I can put in similar rides and keep this momentum going.

Ruben Fernandez

Marcus Pereira de Freitas
HRC General Manager - MXGP

Overall, it was a very good day for Ruben and the team. He showed his sand skills today and we are very happy with his riding in all three sessions. Each time he went out on the track he got better and better, from 11th in free practice to fifth in timed practice and then he was in the top five for the majority of the qualification race, only dropping to sixth when he tried to make a pass for second place a couple of laps from the end. If he gets a good start tomorrow, we are confident he can challenge the podium spots and continue his excellent start to the season.

Marcus Pereira de Freitas

Qualifying Race
Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team Time/Gap
1 Prado Garcia Jorge 61 SPA 10 Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing 25:00.149
2 Coldenhoff Glenn 959 NDL 9 Monster Energy Yamaha Factory MXGP Team 0:01.450
3 Herlings Jeffrey 84 NDL 8 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0:03.253
4 van Doninck Brent 32 BEL 7 JM Honda Racing 0:10.328
5 Febvre Romain 3 FRA 6 Kawasaki Racing Team MXGP 0:12.660

Source: Honda Racing Corporation

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