On an overcast afternoon in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez fought back to get himself a ninth-place finish and two championship points after an extremely eventful qualification race.
Returning to Switzerland for the first time since 2018, the venue has actually switched back to the ‘old’ Frauenfeld track a couple of kilometres from the last event, which is a more retro-style motocross track with a narrow layout and minimal jumps. The dirt is good though and has given the riders a rutted-challenge, which was increased after an afternoon with intermittent rainfall.
Starting the day with free practice, it took Fernandez a little time to get to grips with the terrain but he improved as the day went on and was inside the top 10 for both free and timed practice, with the riders separated by the narrowest margins.
As the gate-dropped for the qualification race, the Honda CRF450R rider got a great jump, and was looking good down the straight, but he drifted wide in the corner and came out in the middle of the pack. Unfortunately, that was an extremely crazy place to be with riders going everywhere on the opening laps, avoiding and creating carnage for everyone. The #70 got caught up in a couple of incidents and when things eventually settled down, he found himself down in 17th place. With passing looking like it would be at a premium, Fernandez wasn’t deterred, picking off a rider nearly every lap to make his way inside the top 10, crossing the line in ninth place.
He was hoping for more coming into the race, but after the first couple of laps, a ninth place was an excellent comeback and gives him a lot of confidence that with a good start, he can challenge at the front of the field when the gate next drops. Which, in a change to accommodate the Easter customs in Switzerland, the GP races will actually take place on Monday, giving the riders a little bit of extra time off to prepare themselves for the two motos, of this third round of the 2023 MXGP World Championship.
Ruben Fernandez #70Ninth in the qualification race is okay, but I know I can do better. It was chaos at the beginning with riders going everywhere, cutting the track, hitting each other and it was just a case of trying to survive. I got a decent jump out of the gate but went a bit wide and then I dropped further down the field on the first couple of laps. However, I found my rhythm and then started to work my way through the field. I got my way up to ninth, so two points, which took a lot of work but if I can avoid all the sketchiness on Monday, I know I can ride up front with these guys.
Marcus Pereira de Freitas - HRC General Manager - MXGPA difficult day on a tight, tricky track which is very different from the usual GP tracks we usually race on. It was narrow and not a lot of jumps but it provided a lot of action as everyone was so well-matched in laptimes. Ruben had a tough first few laps in the race which made things very hard as passing wasn’t so easy, but he did well to get himself up into ninth place when he was outside the top 15 at one stage. It gives him a couple of points today, so that was good but we’ll be hoping for more on Monday. There is now a day off before the GP races so that will be strange too, but it is the same for everyone and we will make sure Ruben is fully prepared for those gate-drops.