Lowes back with a bang for second Spielberg showdown
Gloriously sunny skies and hot summer temperatures saw Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Sam Lowes and Augusto Fernandez make a big impression on the first day of practice for the inaugural Styrian Grand Prix.
- Lowes and Fernandez took full advantage of hot and windless conditions to fine-tune race settings they used on their way to yet another impressive double top 10 finish in the Austrian Grand Prix five days ago.
- Both were instantly able to improve on their best lap times set throughout the whole of last weekend’s action, with Lowes fastest on the combined standings and Fernandez in the top six.
/// AUGUSTO FERNÁNDEZ: 6th, 1:28.851, 41 laps
- Less than one second covered the top 24 riders in another immensely close FP1 and Fernandez was close to the top of the rankings with a 1:28.851 immediately beating his best time set during last weekend’s clash.
- That was just over 0.1s away from teammate Lowes on a day in which he split his time between working on his race pace on new tyres, gaining confidence in time attack mode for qualifying while experimenting with a new set-up to improve corner entry and agility.
- With track temperature leaping from 40 to 52 degrees for FP2, the hotter conditions made it a complex challenge to lower lap times and only four of the 30 riders were able to improve their pace from this morning, with Fernandez not opting to use a new soft Dunlop rear tyre in the closing stages.
- Fernandez was satisfied with his consistency after finishing a whisker away from the top 10 and the number 37 was happy to clinch a provisional spot in Q2, with thunderstorms and rain predicted in the Styrian hills tomorrow.
“I am faster than last weekend and that’s positive”
“It has been a good day and one area I’m particularly happy with is the intensity on the first laps with new tyres. That is something we were missing last weekend and I’ve also been concentrating on being stronger in qualifying because that is so important now with the times so close. I need to be minimum on the first two rows and I’m happy with the work we did for that today. I am faster than last weekend and that’s positive and this afternoon we decided just to concentrate on our race pace and we didn’t try a new tyre. We have to be happy with how things went today and I’m sure with more hard work we can be even better tomorrow.”
/// SAM LOWES: 1st, 1:28.733, 43 laps
- Quickest in all three practice sessions last weekend, Lowes made a blistering start this morning and on his 13th lap of 20 completed he fired in a 1:28.733, which was only 0.1s outside of the all-time lap record posted by Remy Gardner when the Australian took pole position six days ago.
- It was the third race in a row that Lowes has made a rapid start and topped the FP1 leaderboard as he worked on the front-end stability of his Kalex machine to help him improve in the Red Bull Ring’s hard braking zones.
- Lowes was also evaluating a new swingarm for the first time today and on his final lap in FP2 he posted a time of 1:29.623, which was only 0.3s away from the top three once again.
- The Briton was also pleased with progress in improving his starts ahead of the 25-lap race and he is determined to fight for his fourth front row start of 2020 in qualifying tomorrow afternoon.
“The goal is to be on the front row”
“Overall it has been a good day. I improved my lap time this morning compared to last weekend and that was a good early boost. We tried some things this afternoon that gave us a good direction for tomorrow and as always, the team have done a very good job. We’ve been trying some new parts which are interesting for the future and it has been good to try them after I missed some testing time in the winter with my shoulder injury. We’ll analyse the data tonight and work on a plan for tomorrow but the goal is to be on the front row to put myself in a position for a strong fight on Sunday.”