Lowes ready to fight for a podium in Le Mans
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Sam Lowes starts his 100th Moto2 race from the front row of the grid as he goes in search of a milestone podium in Le Mans tomorrow, with Augusto Fernandez aiming for a strong charge through the field after the Spaniard ended Q2 in 15th position.
- Clear and sunny skies were a welcome respite from the rain and heavy cloud that dominated day one, but conditions were still very cold, particularly in FP3 this morning with temperatures only just getting into double figures.
- Lowes and Fernandez went directly into Q2 with strong performances this morning and the Briton then managed to mount yet another big push for pole position before securing his sixth front row start of the season for tomorrow’s 25-lap French Grand Prix.
/// AUGUSTO FERNÁNDEZ: 15th, 1:37.014, 29 laps
- Fernandez made an excellent start in the chilly conditions this morning and with air temperature only reaching 13 degrees he was able to complete 19 productive laps while focusing on gaining more corner entry stability with revised engine braking settings.
- A lap of 1:38.828 placed the number 37 in third position behind Joe Roberts and Marco Bezzecchi and that outstanding performance raised expectations of a strong showing in the crucial 15-minute qualifying session.
- Ambient temperature increased slightly to 16 degrees by the time Q2 got underway and Fernandez was only 0.3s away from the top six when he fired in a lap of 1:37.014 on his seventh lap.
- Although disappointed not to qualify higher than 15th, the 23-year-old is still optimistic that he can fight in the lead group tomorrow after he launched a superb fightback last year in Le Mans to claim a podium from 14th place on the grid.
“Hopefully I can be strong and show my full potential tomorrow”
“It was a very disappointing qualifying because we expected a lot more after such a good performance this morning when I was competitive and inside the top three. We improved a lot with my feeling on the bike and going into Q2 I was very confident that I could improve my lap time and be fighting for a good grid position. But something strange happened that prevented me from going faster. I didn’t have the same rear grip and it is frustrating not to go any quicker this afternoon compared to my time this morning. We need to analyse what happened because today we couldn’t show our full potential. Starting from the fifth row of the grid is not the end of the world because last year I started 14th and finished third and hopefully I can be strong again tomorrow.”
/// SAM LOWES: 2nd. 1:36.343, 27 laps
- Lowes was instantly able to find a fast pace in FP3 this morning and his best time of 1:36.856 was less than 0.1s away from the top three, as he eased into the second qualifying session.
- The 30-year-old then produced his trademark attack for pole position, and he jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a 1:36.343 with less than three minutes left on the clock.
- Lowes will mark a century of appearances in Moto2 from second on the grid and he is confident he can continue his golden run of form by securing a third successive podium in three races for just the second time in his career.
- Lowes has another big incentive to deliver a podium in tomorrow’s 25-lap race because a repeat of his top three finishes in Brno, Misano 2 and Catalunya will move him ahead of Scott Redding as the British rider with the most rostrum finishes in the Moto2 World Championship.
“I feel ready to race and looking forward to it”
“I’m very happy to be on the front row because the conditions have been difficult all weekend and it was important to show we are strong again and put ourselves in a good position to fight for the win. I made a small mistake on my last flying lap which meant I couldn’t improve but the front row is still very positive and I’m looking forward to the race. The team have done an amazing job all weekend and we found more rear feeling today that makes me confident for the race. I feel ready to race and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow.”