Gardner 'still trying to adapt', will we see the 'real' Fernandez in Argentina?

After finishing top of the five 2022 MotoGP rookie in Qatar, Remy Gardner was reduced to sitting back and watching Darryn Binder’s stunning exploits in Indonesia. But can the Moto2 world champion reclaim top rookie honours in Argentina?
Remy Gardner, Raul Fernandez, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 3 March 2022
Remy Gardner, Raul Fernandez, MotoGP, Qatar MotoGP, 3 March 2022
© Gold and Goose

With Gardner looking for a second points scoring finish from as many rounds, wet conditions proved to be the Australian's undoing at the Indonesian MotoGP as he finished last of the 21 riders that complete the 20-lap race.

The 24 year-old failed to match the likes of Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio who challenged for top spot in a dry Q1 session - the latter advanced after finishing second to Francesco Bagnaia - while treacherous conditions during the first-ever Mandalika MotoGP race, also left Gardner close to 15 seconds down on team-mate Raul Fernandez. 

Gardner, who claimed the 2021 Moto2 title after holding off a late charge from his fellow Tech 3 KTM rider, will be hoping to somewhat rediscover his performance in Qatar after he finished 15th. 

Although P15 might not sound like much, the 2022 season is shaping up to be as competitive a year as we’ve ever seen, if not the outfight most. 

Speaking ahead of the first Argentina MotoGP since 2019, Gardner said: "We had two challenging first races in Qatar and Indonesia because the MotoGP class is high level and there is a big gap to which I’m still trying to adapt. 

"Back in Doha, we managed to get a point, and in Mandalika we had a decent pace but the wet race in Mandalika was complicated for me. 

"Anyway, it is good experience in the bag in order to improve for the next races. 

"We are now going to Argentina, which is one of my favourite tracks, so I hope that we can have a good weekend and a great race."

Will Raul Fernandez begin to show the type of form we saw in Moto2?

For Fernandez, the step to MotoGP with the Austrian manufacturer has proved to be tougher than many expected thus far.

Raul Fernandez , MotoGP race, Indonesian MotoGP, 20 March 2022
Raul Fernandez , MotoGP race, Indonesian MotoGP, 20 March 2022
© Gold and Goose Photography

While replicating his stunning Moto2 success should and has never have been the aim for the opening few rounds at least, the level of performance, or lack thereof from Fernandez has been somewhat surprising. 

It must be noted, the concussion he suffered following a pre-season crash at the Mandalika test didn’t help his preparations.

There have certainly been flashes of potential from the Spaniard, however, consistency is considerably lacking at the moment, and likely to be the #1 area he needs to address in order to challenge for top ten results.   

Although Gardner and Binder are the only rookies to have scored points through two rounds, a leap in performance as the year goes on, similar to his Moto2 campaign, could see Fernandez eventually top the rookie of the year standings, which is our current prediction. 

Speaking ahead of the weekend, Fernandez added: "The Grand Prix of Indonesia was a positive weekend as the whole team did a great job. We are taking it step by step, the feeling with the bike is getting better, so the results will come with time and experience. 

"I am happy with my team and everyone involved at KTM. We are in a good position to keep improving and pushing, so we are headed to Argentina feeling very motivated and I am sure that we can have a good weekend there."

One rookie who was perhaps the favourite to join Gardner in scoring points prior to the Indonesian race getting underway, was Gresini Ducati rider Di Giannantonio.

Fabio Di Giannantonio , MotoGP race, Indonesian MotoGP, 20 March 2022
Fabio Di Giannantonio , MotoGP race, Indonesian MotoGP, 20 March 2022
© Gold and Goose Photography

However, the sudden downpour before the race affected him more than most, which is the reason for his drop from 11th to 18th. 

Di Giannantonio claimed to find a good rhythm during the sketchy conditions, but that it came too late for him to make headway: "I can’t tell you I’m happy because I would have loved to be in the front group. 

"I was able to start from a much better position on the grid so I would have liked to play my part and maybe keep that position at the line. Unfortunately it started to rain heavily before the race and that was a completely new thing for me to ride a MotoGP bike in full-wet conditions. 

"I found my rhythm only at the end of the race, when we were too far to make any progress in terms of position. 

"I’m happy anyway because it all works for my experience, but I’m kicking myself at the same time because I wanted to do well; we’re struggling a bit at the moment, but I guess it’s part of the learning process."

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