Raul Fernandez calls COTA race ‘very special, an incredible day for me’

Raul Fernandez was one place lower than his sprint finish but the former KTM rider called his P10 at COTA ‘very special’.

Raul Fernandez, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 14 April
Raul Fernandez, MotoGP race, Grand Prix of the Americas, 14 April

Raul Fernandez finished ahead of team-mate Miguel Oliveira for the second consecutive MotoGP race, after claiming a season-best P10.

Fernandez, who failed to finish the first two grand prix’ of 2024, was two seconds clear of Oliveira at the checkered flag.

“I’m very happy to end this race in a good way,” said Fernandez, who finished ninth in the sprint race on Saturday. “First of all, I’m back feeling very comfortable on the bike, which is the key to go fast.

“It was an incredible day, a very special one for me and my group to start my 100th GP at the team’s home track.

“We know that it’s very important to be in a good position in the first two laps in MotoGP and at the beginning of the race, I was almost at the back of the field. 

“It was difficult to manage that, tricky to conserve the front tire with the slipstream. I was pushing a lot and trying to overtake the other riders so a top 10 is a good result for us but, of course, we want more and we know there is a margin.

“We saw that our bike is working very well but, we take it step by step. After the first two disappointing rounds of this season, we are in the points now and this is great.”

With Maverick Vinales winning aboard the RS-GP and Aleix Espargaro in seventh, more was expected from Oliveira who is also riding the 2024-spec RS-GP.

However, the Portuguese rider was impacted by contact with Franco Morbidelli which resulted in him losing several places.

Speaking post-race, Oliveira added: “Today was alright. I had the feeling that the result could have been very different but I got caught up with Morbidelli making me lose a lot of time and like four or five places. 

“I had to recover from that after he had crashed and his bike went across the track. It was a split second decision whether I go inside and risk hitting him or go to the outside and try to avoid him, as his bike was coming towards me.

“That was the incident that really destroyed my chances to do better. The pace was not bad, I closed back to the group and started to overtake as soon as I could without losing much time.

“In the last three laps, I was already really tired and I couldn’t attack Raul to make it a top 10 finish.”

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