Interview with Raúl Fernández, Moto3 Junior World Champion
Ángel Nieto Team rider Raúl Fernández is Spain’s first ever Moto3 Junior World Champion, following in the footsteps of Italian trio Nicolo Bulega, Lorenzo dalla Porta and Dennis Foggia. Fernández dominated the series in 2018 and with three victories and six podiums he effectively claimed the title with two races to spare.
Second place in Portugal signalled a strong start to the season and Fernández moved to the top of the standings with fourth place in race one at Valencia. Victory in race two was followed by a podium in France and another win at Aragón, which consolidated his advantage at the top. Another podium at Jerez and victory at Albacete were enough to secure an historic title for Raúl Fernández who moves up to Grand Prix next season with the Ángel Nieto Team as the Junior World Champion.
How would you sum up this championship?
I would say it has been a season of enjoyment and learning. I think people often say that but we have really enjoyed it, even on bad weekends like Jerez, when we ended up on the podium. We also learned too, because from last year to this we showed that we could stay calm even in difficult moments. Jorge Martínez “Aspar” kept telling me to stay calm and that in the easy moments everything would come. Nico Terol also told me “you have to give 100% with whatever you have” and I think this year we managed that.
How important was Nico Terol in a season like this?
He has been a keystone. He was always there and in the difficult moments he built up my self-confidence. And when I was really up, he brought me back down. He helped me to stay on an even keel.
Who is Raúl Fernández?
A rider from San Martín de la Vega, in Madrid, who started late but has been able to take big strides in his career. I skipped a lot of categories, going straight from the Cuna de Campeones to PreMoto3, and in my first season of circuit racing I competed in the FIM CEV and finished sixteenth. I also raced in the Red Bull Rookies Cup that season.
I started racing when I was eleven. A lot of things came together. My father used to say to me and my brother when we watched the races on television “You could do that”. I remember one race we watched when Márquez crashed and came from last place to win [Portugal, 2010]. I also remember one day, after asking my mum a thousand times for a dog, she surprised me with a motorbike so that I forgot about the dog…
I had ridden a bike when I was four years old but wasn’t that bothered. I fell off and decided I didn’t want to do it again. But several years later I went back to it, even though I couldn’t even get my knee down on a minibike. Little by little I improved, we went to a race school where I started in the slow group and ended up with the fast kids. Then I joined the Cuna de Campeones and earned a scholarship… everything came together and I picked it up quickly.
Now you follow in the footsteps of the likes of Maverick Viñales, Álex Rins and Álex Márquez, who all won this series before it became the Junior World Championship.
It is a list of great riders, and since it became a World Championship it’s been won by Nicolo Bulega, Lorenzo dalla Porta and Dennis Foggia. This year the level was really high but we were able to get the most out of our package and it was a great learning season ahead of whatever awaits us in the World Championship next year. I feel very privileged to join this list with riders like Efrén Vázquez or Maverick Viñales, who is my hero. I will run the number 25 next season because of him, even though he has changed now, because my usual number 23 is taken. I have been watching him since he was racing in Moto3, when he was fighting with Cortese, Salom, RIns… I like his charisma and how he is. He has a lovely riding style and I enjoy watching him on the bike.
Ever since I was small I have wanted to be a World Champion but my objective now is to win in Moto3 and in Moto2 and make it to MotoGP. Even if you were to tell me right now that I wouldn’t be a champion but I would make it to MotoGP and score a podium… where do I sign? I can see that it’s possible to arrive in MotoGP because I can see Mir and Quartararo there, and I have raced with them.
I feel more mature than last year and I have gone from 28th in the Junior World Championship to first. Who would have thought it? I could even have done well in the Moto3 World Championship this year, but I think I am more prepared for it now.