Fernandez signed with RNF to be ‘Aprilia rider’, no thoughts about Yamaha

Second-year MotoGP rider Raul Fernandez has made it clear that joining RNF Aprilia one year later than the team wanted does not change anything.
Raul Fernandez, RNF Aprilia MotoGP Portimao 2023
Raul Fernandez, RNF Aprilia MotoGP Portimao 2023

After a stunning rookie Moto2 season in 2021, Fernandez was promoted to MotoGP by KTM despite wanting a move away from the Austrian manufacturer.

Formerly known as WithU RNF Yamaha, the Razlan Razali-led team was keen to bring Fernandez aboard when it was running M1 machinery, which was also what made Fernandez keen on the move.

But when Fernandez was not granted his wish, KTM then signed him to their Tech 3 team alongside Remy Gardner even though his second preferred choice was to remain in Moto2 instead of moving up with KTM. 

And although Fernandez struggled mightily with the RC16 last season, the talented Spaniard finally got the move he wanted, albeit aboard Aprilia machinery. 

So when I asked Fernandez if he timed the move to RNF perfectly given Aprilia’s level of competitiveness which now appears to be higher than Yamaha, Fernandez held his cards close to his chest.

Fernandez said: "For me it’s difficult! I don’t know if they changed or not but when I knew the possibility to come here it was with Aprilia. I can say that I ride for RNF but I am an Aprilia rider. I signed with Aprilia. 

"I don’t know what happened but when I showed my situation and they pushed a lot for me, I said ‘okay, my way is to go to Aprilia’ and become the youngest rider with Aprilia. 

"I’m happy with them and they have a good bike. I don’t know what would have happened if they didn’t sign. This is another history." 

‘You prepare to win’ - Fernandez looking for sustained MotoGP success

Raul Fernandez, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March
Raul Fernandez, Portimao MotoGP test, 12 March

Fernandez’s best finish last season was 12th place, which he achieved on two occasions. So while fighting for podiums or even wins seems like a far-fetched idea in just his second season, the RNF rider certainly has the talent to do so.

The 22-year-old was one of the most impressive riders during pre-season testing as he continuously battled for a top ten position. But perhaps more determining when looking at his potential was the outright speed he was able to show compared to factory riders Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales, despite being new to the Aprilia bike. 

Because of that and his lofty ambitions, Fernandez says the target is always to win although he also understands the reality of his current position.

"In the end, my mind is the same," said Fernandez when asked if he’s approaching this season differently to 2022. "The principal target - sure it is to enjoy now - but you prepare to win. If you don’t prepare to win in this work it will be impossible to win one race or win one championship. 

"I have the same mind as 2022. The same mind! I prepare and I try to prepare to win. But when you have a difficult year and your mind is coming down, it is difficult to recover this feeling. 

"For that I want to say my mind is the same. My mindset in my life is to try to win. Now, the situation is different but last year I prepared my mind to win. 

"Now I come prepared to work because the confidence is too low. I have to stay confident and later, win!"

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