Fernandez ‘never lost’ his talent, RNF hoping for repeat of Quartararo rise

After watching 2021 MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo win races and claim pole positions for them during their time as Petronas Yamaha, Razlan Razali’s RNF Aprilia team are hoping for a similar rise from new rider Raul Fernandez.
Raul Fernandez, RNF Aprilia MotoGP Sepang 2023
Raul Fernandez, RNF Aprilia MotoGP Sepang 2023

On a bike that he’s clearly gelling with a lot more than the Tech 3 KTM last season, the second-year MotoGP rider has looked more and more like the ‘Fernandez’ we saw in Moto2

After putting together one of the best rookie seasons ever in the intermediate class, Yamaha attempted to poach the Spaniard away from KTM, who instead had to react quickly by promoting him to its Tech 3 team.

However, that was not the move Fernandez wanted and it showed in his performances for KTM.

But after joining the team who initially wanted to sign him, albeit on Aprilia machinery now - by waiting a year to join RNF, Fernandez may have timed his move to perfection as Aprilia appears to be stronger than Yamaha as it stands - it seems at though a bounce back year could be in store for the young talent from Madrid.

Wins and podiums won’t be expected given it’s his first season with the team, plus the level being shown by others such as Ducati, however, Team Manager, Wilco Zeelenberg, has very high hopes for Fernandez.

Speaking to MotoGP.com, Zeelenberg said: "As you know we wanted to have Raul in our team already last year and we weren’t able to do so, and he was disappointed about that, us too, but that happened and he’s back with his former crew chief and he’s seen the Aprilia last year as well.

"He thought the bike looks to be good, everything is a little bit more relaxed and he has the things that he wanted to have. 

"The talent he never lost, he clearly struggled last year but we had the same with Fabio. Fabio we knew was really talented but it didn’t come out, but when we put him on a MotoGP bike and he felt comfortable with his crew chief, with the team and he could build up, take his time, finally he won the championship. So this is clearly the aim we have with both of our riders."

Fernandez ‘enjoying’ himself after desired MotoGP move

Raul Fernandez, Sepang MotoGP test, 10 February
Raul Fernandez, Sepang MotoGP test, 10 February

Relfected in his demeaner at the Sepang test, Fernandez was smiling and in a great place, not just because of his on-track showing, but because of the team environment that’s around him.

In fact, The Spaniard admitted that he feels like a ‘factory rider’ despite being on a bike that’s a year older than the new 2023-spec that Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales will compete on.

Speaking about his mood which has greatly changed since joining RNF, Fernandez said: "I’ve started to enjoy myself on the bike for the first time since 2021, and that’s our job now, to try and enjoy and believe more in me and the team because when you have a difficult year, it’s difficult to have this feeling.

"It’s all coming this year. With the Aprilia I feel really good and especially with the team I believe in them a lot and I think they believe in me and we work very well together."

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