Top ten spot on the #DohaGP grid for Augusto
Track conditions were treacherous throughout the day with high winds buffeting riders all around the 5.4-km Losail International Circuit. It also blew a substantial amount of dust and sand onto the track, adding to the challenge for the Elf Marc VDS Racing Team riders.
Sam Lowes and Augusto Fernandez have shown excellent potential all weekend and both riders automatically qualified for Saturday’s Q2 session via the top 14 (Lowes was 7th, Fernandez 13th) in the combined free practice standings.
Having made substantial changes to his bike setting on Friday, Augusto confirmed his good feelings on qualifying day, posting the 12th fastest time in Saturday afternoon’s FP3.
It was a solid qualifying performance for the rider from the Balearic Islands, who was inside the top ten places throughout the 15-minute session. Despite finding it difficult to maintain consistency due to the track conditions, Fernandez’s 1’59.809s was enough for 10th place, an 11-place improvement on last weekend.
“It was a difficult day but I’m happy because we made a big step from yesterday. It seems like the direction we took on Friday is working. Now we’re not that far, and we’re getting closer. I’m happy to be in the top ten and to start from the fourth row tomorrow. We have to find something so I feel comfortable doing this pace. At the end I did just one lap and I was struggling a bit to keep it. But I talked to Sam and he found it hard to do that as well. Maybe the sand and the wind meant the tyre dropped a lot. If we can maintain this speed then I’m sure we will enjoy the race.”