Fernandez flies to fourth spot in Spielberg qualifying
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Augusto Fernandez will start from a season best fourth position in the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix tomorrow, with brave Briton Sam Lowes qualifying in 11th after a heavy crash in the final practice session.
- Qualifying day at the 4.3km Red Bull Ring track in Austria turned into an eventful affair for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS, with Fernandez in excellent form throughout to set the fourth quickest time in both FP3 and Q2.
- Lowes displayed incredible physical and mental strength to bounce back from a big crash at the halfway point of FP3 to qualify his Kalex machine on the fourth row of the grid for tomorrow’s 25-lap race.
/// AUGUSTO FERNÁNDEZ: 4th, 1:29.168, 29 laps
- A busy Friday that helped Fernandez improve his race rhythm and one lap pace paid dividends today and he made an excellent start to the Saturday action in Spielberg with a 20-lap stint in FP3 securing the Spaniard fourth place on the timesheets.
- Fernandez got to within five-hundreths-of-a-second of his best practice time this morning and full of confidence heading into Q2 he was immediately in the hunt for a front row start.
- A brilliant lap of 1:29.168 on his penultimate lap of the action-packed session moved him to fourth place and just over 0.3s from the pole position benchmark.
- Fernandez pushed hard again on his final lap but he was unable to improve in the decisive final sector and he missed out on a first front row start by the narrow margin of just 0.011s.
“We worked hard for this result and we deserved it”
“I’m very happy with the work of today. Starting from the second row is very important for the race and it feels great to achieve it after all the hard we put in to make sure we qualified well. My pace last weekend was good, but my qualifying position made it a difficult race and we were missing that one fast lap last week. But we found the intensity for qualifying today and I’m very satisfied. It could have been even better, but I was pushing so hard on my final lap that I made a small mistake in the last sector. We have to be happy with the second row, which was the target going into this weekend. I hope to make a good start and push hard from the beginning to enjoy a strong race. I want to thank my team because we really worked hard for this result today and I think we deserved it.”
/// SAM LOWES: 11th, 1:29.271, 19 laps
- Lowes was inside the top three again during FP3 with a lap of 1.29.071 when he suffered a heavy crash in the high-speed braking zone for turn three on his 11th lap.
- The 29-year-old hit a false neutral while downshifting and landed heavily on the right shoulder his first injured in a pre-season testing crash at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto.
- The number 22 was passed fit for Q2 after a medical check and he produced an incredible pain-defying performance to challenge for the front row, despite the considerable discomfort from his right shoulder in the Red Bull Ring’s hard braking zones at turns one, three and four.
- Nobody was quicker than the gutsy Lowes in the last two sectors of the Spielberg track in Q2 and his fastest lap 1:29.271 almost saw him pull off a heroic front row after he missed the top three by just over 0.1s.
“I’ll push as hard as always to get the best result possible”
“Unfortunately, I made a mistake this morning with used tyres and I’m disappointed because it is my first crash since the restart. I hit a false neutral on the run into turn three and I fell very hard on the right shoulder that I hurt during the pre-season. I’ve experienced a lot of pain this afternoon and to be honest I’m happy with my performance in qualifying because I was not that far away from the best time. I was only a tenth away from the front row and in my physical condition that is very positive. I’ll try and rest tonight but I’m now expecting a tough race tomorrow because I’m in quite a lot of pain. Hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow morning, but the bike is good and my pace is good too. Even in qualifying I was fastest in the last two sectors and I lose time in the first half of the lap because the shoulder is painful in the hard braking zones. Thanks to my team again and I’ll be pushing as hard as always to get the best result possible.”