Augusto Fernandez: 'Here you can feel real MotoGP power'

Rookie Augusto Fernandez is the only full time MotoGP rider to have completed 2023 laps at Sepang ahead of this weekend’s official test.
Augusto Fernandez (pic: Sepang Circuit)
Augusto Fernandez (pic: Sepang Circuit)

The reigning Moto2 champion was eligible to joined test riders from the five factories on track for the Shakedown earlier this week, when he got a taste of ‘real’ MotoGP power after a debut on the tight and twisty Valencia circuit last November.

Fernandez, who will ride alongside Pol Espargaro in the Tech3 team’s new GASGAS branding, finished the Shakedown third fastest, behind only Ducati’s Michele Pirro (+0.679s) and Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.129s).

“I need to keep discovering the bike, how it works and what it needs to be faster,” Fernandez said on the eve of the official test. “We had good track time in the dry, especially the last day, but it was also good to ride in the wet on the second day.”

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“Sepang is totally different to Valencia,” he added. “Here you feel the power and especially the brakes, because you have such long braking points, into the last corner and first corner.

“Valencia is a small track even for the Moto2 bike. You can’t test anything about power and brakes compared to this track.

"So now I’m feeling the real MotoGP.”

One of the focus points for Fernandez is braking, an area where he is also receiving advice from KTM test riders Dani Pedrosa and Mika Kallio.

“Here in MotoGP the braking is very, very important and I need to take the maximum of it. It’s the most important point that I need to work on,” he said.

“Dani and also Mika have helped me a lot. With both we've been checking the data and there's good things and there's bad things. As I said, the most important thing that I have to work and change is this braking area.

“It's not just that I feel it, also they're telling me and we can see on the data where I’m losing the most time is on the braking. And here is important because as I said we have such long braking areas that you can lose or gain a lot.

“[Now I’m braking] a little bit early. And you can use the pressure of the brakes a lot. You have to trust on the front tyre a lot, so it's something that is… You won't hear a Moto2 rider that trusts a lot on the front tyre!

“So coming from the Moto2 and what the Moto2 asks of the front tyre is completely different so I need to trust a lot on the front.

“I'm improving, but there's still a big room to improve and when you those guys braking at this high speed and still be able to stop the bike is something that surprised me. So I need to work on it.

“I’m starting to feel something, but as I said, I'm not braking like they are braking.”

“Every minute I'm learning something because then we also have the electronics to set up the bike. So okay, I'm struggling in braking, but maybe it's not all from suspension, you can adjust some electronic things also and I don't know anything about that! So just discovering things. It’s a learning process.”

Part of that process is learning to use the ride height device on the exit of some corners.

“It’s not natural! But it's better than Valencia for sure. I’m getting used to it,” smiled the 25-year-old.

“We have three places to use it here. The long straights are a bit easier, especially the main one because you have time to think that you have to do it! Sometimes I forget but I’m getting better.”

Just being on track with his opponents this weekend will also be a plus.

“I think so, because these [Shakedown] days have been riding alone. Of course, checking the data after every run, but not riding with other riders. So I'm going to discover things and learn a lot.”

Fernandez will also be able to make direct data comparisons with experienced team-mate Pol Espargaro.

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