Lowes and Fernandez master mixed conditions in Le Mans
A treacherously wet surface and cool mid-Autumn temperatures kicked off the first day of Moto2 practice at the legendary Le Mans track, with Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Sam Lowes and Augusto Fernandez then encountering dry but low grip conditions in the second session this afternoon.
- Ambient temperature struggled to reach a chilly 15 degrees this morning and Lowes and Fernandez were chasing grip on a wet and slippery surface throughout FP1 at the 4.1km Bugatti Circuit.
- Grey and overcast skies remained for FP2 but with no additional rain disrupting proceedings, Lowes and Fernandez were able to complete a full session on Dunlop’s slick tyres and the pair were on strong form to finish inside the top five together.
/// AUGUSTO FERNANDEZ : 5th, 1:38.185, 36 laps
- With barely any wet track time under his belt in 2020, Fernandez used the tricky conditions this morning to focus on finding the best electronics and suspension set-up to maximise his potential in the rainy weather.
- Conditions were dry but still far from ideal this afternoon and the early stages of FP2 were spent calculating where to attack, with the track scattered with damp patches.
- The Spaniard built up to a fast finale after an early red flag in FP2 and on his penultimate lap of 20 completed he fired in a best pace of 1:38.185 to end day one content with progress made in fifth position.
- With brighter weather predicted for the remainder of the weekend, the 23-year-old is hoping to test a new rear linkage tomorrow and he’s now determined to secure a top 14 place in FP3 to advance directly into Q2.
“I am happy with progress in the wet and dry”
“I’m happy with the first day because we had to contend with a lot of different conditions. It was wet this morning and not completely dry in FP2 because there were some patches around and that is never easy when you are on slick tyres, But it was important we collected a lot of information because right now it is not clear what conditions we will get on Sunday and we must be prepared for every scenario as best we can. If it is wet, then at least we have been able to gather some data to help us for those conditions. The track was improving throughout FP2 and I was happy with the progress we made in the dry, so hopefully we can find some more time tomorrow.”
/// SAM LOWES: 4th, 1:38.155, 33 laps
- Lowes made solid progress in tricky conditions this morning while assessing Dunlop’s wet weather tyres and under grey and gloomy skies he was able to post a personal best time of 1:52.942.
- The Briton was pushing hard to keep himself in contention for the top 10 when he was one of 12 crashers this morning with a tip off at turn nine that he was able to walk away from unscathed.
- Lowes posed a much bigger threat in more favourable conditions this afternoon and using the same set of slick tyres for the duration of FP2, a lap of 1:38.562 put the number 22 in charge with just under 10 minutes remaining.
- Lowes continued to improve his lap times and ahead of his 100th appearance in the Moto2 World Championship he found another 0.4s to finish just 0.030s clear of Fernandez and claim fourth spot.
“It was a challenging day in those conditions”
“It was definitely a challenging day in those conditions, but we got to work through a lot of stuff, particularly this morning in the rain which can certainly help us in the future. I’m happy with my pace this afternoon in the dry as well because I just kept the same set of tyres in for the whole session and I could have been even faster at the end, but the yellow flags prevented me from doing so. Hopefully it will be dry tomorrow because I’d certainly like to work on improving stopping the bike. I feel good on corner exit, but we need to improve my feeling on entry. This is a different track compared to what we’ve been on lately, but I’ve come here and been fast and that’s the most important thing.”