Raul Fernandez after Qatar test: ‘The key was not to create dangerous situations’

Able to rival the factory Aprilia duo, Raul Fernandez was blisteringly quick at the Qatar MotoGP test.

Raul Fernandez, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February
Raul Fernandez, Qatar MotoGP test, 20 February

After injury scuppered his Sepang MotoGP test, Raul Fernandez was on top form in Qatar as he finished fifth fastest.

Less than a tenth down on Aleix Espargaro and half a tenth faster than Maverick Vinales, Fernandez showed his potential aboard the RS-GP23 machine, which he will swap for a 2024-spec bike midway through the year.

But Fernandez was quick to point out that trying for a fast lap was not the main aim at Lusail.

“We didn’t really focus on a fast lap, we just tried the soft tyre,” said Fernandez. “The key for this test was not to create any dangerous situations, so when I used the soft tyre, it was not in order to try to push, but to understand it because I never used this kind of compound before on this bike.

“So, this was important for us. Anyway, I still didn’t want to focus on a single fast lap. I’m just happy about the work we did.

“The pace was very good, especially when working with the used tire. For us it was great, also seeing that I don’t feel 100% fit yet, which hopefully is going to improve for the GP.”

While Fernandez spent much of day-two at the front of the field, team-mate Miguel Oliveira was unable to demonstrate the same speed.

Oliveira was the only Aprilia rider not inside the top 10, and although it was a better test for the Portuguese rider than Sepang, he was still ‘not fully satisfied’.

Oliveira said: “It was a better day. I’m not fully satisfied, but at least we took a good step forward. It’s just a shame that we got to a good feeling too late.

“Finally, it was four days with the same bad feeling and today with a slightly different bike, I could finally start to make some steps and be competitive.

“I couldn’t make the best of the whole bike because your braking points, the way you ride, if you get a good bike day by day, you can fine-tune those points.

“Also, during today, we were building up a good speed, then lost some time with one bike, but then with the time-attacks everything worked, more or less, ok.”

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