Lowes and Fernandez conquer bumpy COTA
Mixed conditions and a bumpy surface made it a challenging but positive first day for the Elf Marc VDS Racing Team at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin today.
- Damp and low grip conditions dominated this morning’s FP1 and lap times were nearly four seconds slower than Franco Morbidelli’s four-year old race record lap.
- The undulating and technical 5.51km track was fully dry for FP2 and Sam Lowes finished third fastest and Augusto Fernandez sixth ahead of tomorrow’s FP3, which kicks off at 1055am local time.
/// AUGUSTO FERNANDEZ: 6th, 2’10.773, 28 laps
- As the track dried throughout FP1, Fernandez was one of 18 out of the 29 riders to set his best time on his final flying lap and a 2’14.190 placed him fifth this morning.
- Having quickly acquainted himself with COTA on his first visit to the spectacular Texas track, Fernandez impressed again in FP2, and the 24-year-old ended an encouraging day one less than 0.3s outside of the top three.
“We still have a big margin to improve”
“This is a new track for me and it is certainly not an easy one but I’ve got to say it is one I’m really enjoying, despite the bumps. It’s the same for everybody but there is no doubt that it disturbs you a little when you ride. Today was all about getting used to the track and learning the correct lines and considering my lack of experience here I’m very happy with the lap time. We still have a big margin to improve from myself and the bike and I need to understand how I can be faster. The good thing is I’m competitive and we could not really have asked for more on this first day.”
/// SAM LOWES, 3rd: 2’10.534, 29 laps
- Lowes used the limited dry track time available to assess durability with Dunlop’s soft rear tyre while also checking the potential of his current base set-up on his first visit to COTA since 2019.
- With temperatures hitting 31 degrees this afternoon, Lowes spent more time concentrating on his race settings for Sunday’s 18-lap battle and he climbed from 12th to third to complete a hugely productive second session.
“It has been a good start to the weekend”
“Today was positive because we got better conditions than we expected and that allowed us to make some important improvements to the bike in dry conditions. We need to find something more for tomorrow because the two guys ahead of us are very fast again but I’m happy because my pace was consistent and that will be key on Sunday. We can definitely improve in the first sector and help the bike stop better but overall it has been a good start to the weekend.”