Busy but positive first day for Elf Marc VDS Racing in Austria
Elf Marc VDS Racing Team riders Augusto Fernandez and Sam Lowes enjoyed a fast and productive start to the Austrian Grand Prix today at the 4.54km Spielberg track.
- The pair were top three contenders in both Free Practice sessions, with Fernandez second overall at the close of play and Lowes was just over 0.2s away from the best time of the day in a strong seventh.
- The main mission of today’s two 40-minute sessions was to assess the performance and durability of a new soft rear tyre introduced by official supplier Dunlop for this weekend’s action, which continues tomorrow morning with FP3 scheduled to get underway at 1055am local time.
/// AUGUSTO FERNANDEZ: 2nd, 1’28.894, 43 laps
- Fernandez began his quest for a third successive podium in 2021 in fantastic fashion, with a 1:28.894 leaving him just 0.007s away from P1 this morning while he worked on improving rear grip on corner entry.
- FP2 started on a dry track, despite earlier torrential rain and hail, but the slightly reduced grip levels didn’t stop the 23-year-old from collecting more vital data on the consistency of Dunlop’s new soft rear tyre.
“We are competitive again and that’s very important”
“I’m very happy with how today went because from the beginning of FP1 we were competitive again and that’s the most important thing. We had time to try the new soft rear tyre and some set-up changes based on the information we collected last week, so it was a positive start. Most of the changes worked, and I feel we have better feeling from the rear tyre. The new soft tyre is a positive step for me as well. It is good for a lap time but also when the grip drops, I can manage the pace well.”
/// SAM LOWES: 7th, 1’29.107, 44 laps
- Experimenting with different geometry settings on his Kalex chassis was top priority for Lowes today, as he looked for improvements to the race set-up he used during last weekend’s Styrian round.
- The Briton’s fastest laps in both sessions were almost identical but it was a 1:29.107 set in more favourable conditions this morning that put Lowes only six-hundredths-of-a-second outside of the top six going into tomorrow’s action.
“I feel we’ve definitely made a big step from last weekend”
“It’s no secret that last weekend I felt we were missing something from the bike, and I think our base at this track just wasn’t quite working as we wanted. The team made some big changes for FP2, and I must thank them because they did a good job and immediately I felt better and more comfortable. When you have back-to-back races it is never easy to come up with fresh ideas, but I feel we’ve made a step and I can be more consistent. This afternoon we did some good work on the harder rear tyre and maybe we were missing a little bit, but we weren’t too far away.”