Lowes and Fernandez tackle Portimao rollercoaster
Gloriously sunny autumnal weather conditions helped Elf Marc VDS Racing Team riders Sam Lowes and Augusto Fernandez to finish inside the top 10 on the opening day of Free Practice at the breath-taking Algarve International Circuit in Portugal.
- Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix winner Lowes finished in a fantastic second on the combined standings today and Fernandez recovered superbly from an early setback in FP1 to end the day ninth fastest overall.
- Today’s strong showing and ideal conditions predicted for tomorrow means both Lowes and Fernandez are confident they can secure a direct path into Q2, which is due to get underway at 1535pm local time.
/// AUGUSTO FERNANDEZ: 9th, 1’43.692, 22 laps
- The penultimate round of 2021 didn’t get off to the best start for Spaniard Fernandez, who completed only three laps in FP1 after escaping unhurt from a turn two tumble.
- The 24-year-old quickly regained his confidence and speed this afternoon and despite missing out on crucial track time in FP1 he was able to set a personal best pace of 1’43.693 that left him just over 0.3s away from the top three.
“I’m happy to be as close to the front as I am”
“It was a difficult day, and we certainly didn’t make the start we wanted. I crashed early in FP1 and that meant I lost the whole session. That always makes it more difficult and FP2 was effectively like our first proper session. The important thing was to try and get the feeling back with the bike and feel confident on the track again and I’m happy with the job we did. Considering we lost so much track time this morning I’m happy to be as close to the front as I am. We’ve got a good base, but we can certainly make some improvements tomorrow and I know there’s more to come from myself too.”
/// SAM LOWES: 2nd, 1’43.248, 33 laps
- Lowes made a solid start to proceedings this morning and rather than chase one fast lap time, the 31-year-old concentrated on improving his race setting to post the 14th fastest time.
- He improved by the huge margin of nearly 1.2s in pleasantly warm but windy conditions this afternoon and his best time of 1’43.248 was only two-thousandths-of-a-second behind title contender Raul Fernandez.
“We made a great step between FP1 and FP2”
“It’s nice to come to a track that I really like off the back of a victory and today was very positive. We tried both rear tyre options this afternoon and I felt comfortable and consistent. This morning we started with the bike set-up like I’ve had it for the last few races, but this track is so unique I didn’t feel it was working so well. We went back closer to our setting from the first race here in April and the bike felt great. We need to improve the front feeling to have better stopping in the last part of braking, but we made a great step between FP1 and FP2 and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It’s nice to be in the mix.”