Top ten finish for Augusto Fernandez in the #CatalanGP but a DNF for Pol Espargaro
It was an eventful day at the Gran Premi de Catalunya for the MotoGP™ class after a multi-rider incident in the opening lap of Sunday’s race, forcing GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3’s Augusto Fernandez and Pol Espargaro to head back straight to their garage when the red flag was waved. Eventually the race restarted but Espargaro encountered a technical issue forcing him to retire from his home GP, while Fernandez fought hard for a well deserved P9 finish on Catalan lands.
The weekend had not been that easy so far for rookie Augusto Fernandez at the Catalan Grand Prix, as he seemed uncomfortable on the bike all Saturday, in addition to encountering a consequent tyres drop issue during the Tissot Sprint. A lot of analysis and work later, Fernandez headed to this morning’s warm up with much better feelings already, which of course set him up in better conditions for the afternoon’s race. Clouds were quite dark over the grid minutes before the race started, but luckily the rain never came. When lights went out at 14:00 local time (GMT+2), a multi-rider incident at Turn 1 saw the red flag being waved immediately, forcing all riders not involved to return to their pit box until the track was cleared. While he needed to stay focused, that allowed Augusto Fernandez to check his first start which had not been ideal, so he could give it another go. The race restarted at 14:25 LT, with initial grid positions, one lap less, and both Bagnaia and Bastianini out of the race following their crashes.
Augusto took a better start as he passed Raul Fernandez and Luca Marini to sit in P14 after one lap. Feeling much better than yesterday, that allowed him to set himself up with a decent pace, as he took the best of Franco Morbidelli in P13, and the next lap Marco Bezzecchi, to find himself behind multiple world champion Marc Marquez. At that moment, he rode his fastest lap in 1’40.987 and was faster than the number 93. After a good fight, he brilliantly overtook the Spaniard and found himself behind Fabio Di Giannantonio. Opportunist Raul Fernandez was not far behind, but eventually encountered a technical issue which saw him retire and be out of the group fighting for a top 10 entry. The rookie found himself for the rest of the race behind the Gresini rider, trying to find an opportunity or a small space to pass him, but the number 49 defended pretty well his position and did not want to let go. These two gave us a good battle to watch, but that was eventually the GASGAS Tech3 rider who came on top in the final corner, and passed the checkered flag in P9. Well deserved and earned result in Catalunya for Augusto Fernandez who scored another seven points to bring his total to fifty-eight.
Today was not meant to be neither for home boy Pol Espargaro after the unlucky events of Saturday in the Tissot Sprint. If he had managed to luckily make it through the big crash at the race start, he was forced to retire at the race restart due to a technical issue on his bike. This was not the weekend Pol Espargaro deserved for his home GP, but the GASGAS Tech3 rider will look forward to the next round in Misano, a circuit where he knows he can be fast and competitive. Eyes on the next round as GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 will now travel to Italy for the San Marino Grand Prix, on September 8-10, 2023.
“I am very happy with today’s race, which was not easy at all because we worked hard to manage the tyres with the low grip, but we were all in the same boat. The pace was competitive, maybe I was a bit faster than the few riders ahead of me, but I was struggling to pass, especially Di Giannantonio, because he was braking hard. He gave us a lot of work, but I am really happy to have been able to overtake him in the last corner. Positive day for us, let’s go to Misano!”
“Great shame what happened today, because we had a great speed all weekend. However, for some reason, we were just unlucky all three days. On Friday, I missed Q2 by 0.028 seconds, then in the Sprint I was hit by another rider, lost one wing, and went straight into the gravel. Then today, we had a technical problem after we were lucky to go through the crashes in corner 1 without anything, so it is just bad luck. Sometimes it happens, this is racing, we just need to look forward to the next round. We have been fast in the past in Misano, so let’s see what we can do next week”