Fernandez and Lowes claim top 10 in rain-hit Le Mans qualifying
Augusto Fernandez will start from a season best fifth place on the grid and Sam Lowes heads the fourth row for the French Grand Prix on a day of rapidly changing weather conditions in Le Mans.
- Cold and damp conditions this morning meant Fernandez and Lowes moved immediately into Q2 courtesy of their times set yesterday afternoon in the only full dry Moto2 session of the weekend so far.
- Intermittent rain disrupted the 15-minute Q2 session but the speed and skill of the Elf Marc VDS Racing Team crew to quickly change tyres and settings helped Fernandez and Lowes to challenge for the top positions.
/// AUGUSTO FERNANDEZ: 5th, 1’50.796
- With track temperature not even hitting double figures this morning in a bitterly cold FP3, Fernandez gave himself a big confidence boost heading into Q2 when he set the third quickest time.
- As rain fell just minutes before Q2, Fernandez did a short outing on slick tyres before launching his time attack on Dunlop’s rain rubber and his commitment in tricky conditions was rewarded with his best starting position in 13 races.
“It was a really good qualifying considering the conditions”
“It turned out to be a good qualifying in the end considering the conditions were so difficult. The rain came just five minutes before Q2 and we prepared the bike with a wet setting and then it stopped, so we put the bike back to a dry set-up. I went out on slicks but then it started to rain again, so I came in and switched back to the wet set-up again! It meant I missed some minutes of the session and that’s a pity because in the wet you need laps to gain confidence and feeling. I was improving every lap, but I was also playing it quite safe because I didn’t want to make any silly mistakes that could have put me way down the grid. The second row is my best grid position of the year and I have good pace in the dry, but now we need to wait and see what happens with the weather tomorrow.”
/// SAM LOWES: 10th, 1’52.031
- The 30-year-old was just over 0.1s away from the top three in FP3 and with Q2 looking like it would take place on a dry track, Lowes was confident he could fight for his fourth pole position of 2021.
- Rain showers though made the 4.1km Le Mans track treacherously slippery, but Lowes used his experience to ensure he made no mistakes on his way to a lap of 1’52.031 that secured him 10th for tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
“Wet or dry, we have to be ready”
“It’s a shame to only qualify tenth because I didn’t feel good at all on the bike in qualifying. The conditions were very difficult, and I just couldn’t get the feeling from the tyres I needed to push harder. The conditions are the same for everybody, so I have to say some other guys just managed it better than me. It’s not a great day but the race is the most important part of the weekend and now we’ve got to wait and see what happens with the weather. Wet or dry, we have to be ready, but I know the team will do everything to make me competitive for both.”