Augusto Fernandez, GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3:
Augusto, Valencia, and Sepang, you’ve had two tastes of the GASGAS RC16. How are you faring? How are you adapting? What is the feeling now with the bike?
AF: Yeah, it was good. I was happy to get more laps on the MotoGP [bike]. I still have to adapt my riding to the MotoGP [bike]. It differs from the Moto2 style, and the way I rode in Moto2 differs from MotoGP, but I am still adapting and enjoying the process. Good so far.
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These motorcycles accelerate harder, brake harder, and there are a lot of physical demands on you, so how have you prepared yourself for this change for 2023?
AF: Well, I have been working with the Red Bull Athlete Center… we have been working in this direction; it is more physical than a Moto2 [bike], all the braking and acceleration. And especially in Malaysia, I felt more than in Valencia because, after the winter, the first test is always hard for the body. But yeah, I’m training hard to prepare for the first race.
You are Moto2 World Champion. Taking that title last year must have been a fantastic boost of confidence, but what will success mean for you in 2023?
AF: Well, I’m jumping into MotoGP with this confidence of being world champion, and it’s good – better than having finished 2nd in terms of faith – but honestly, I don’t know what to expect regarding positions.
I’m looking forward to being competitive soon and trying to be in the battle with my teammate and be with Jack [Miller] and Brad [Binder] as quickly as possible. I don’t know about the position…but I want to be fighting with them.
You are the only rookie in the class this season. What does that mean exactly? Does it take the pressure off in a way?
AF: Well, not really, because I don’t want to be last at the end! It may be a process at the beginning, as we have seen at the test, that it’s pretty hard because the next one [rider] has quite a lot of experience in MotoGP. I finished 22nd on the test, and 21st was [Taka] Nakagami, with a lot of experience, so I am already comparing myself to them. I may need to be more patient, but I want to be in this position quickly!
Your career path to MotoGP is an exciting story. It differs from the conventional route, with many other athletes coming through the pyramid. How has that prepared you for MotoGP? Has it allowed you to be more mature or more accepting of circumstances to take profit of your situation?
AF: Yeah, I think so, especially this year. I am facing the most crucial career year, which can decide my future. The patience we had all these years to make every step to grow in the world championship – and also before arriving at the world championship – will be beneficial this year. I will have to use this patience to keep growing in this class.
In the past, you’ve had to race for your place and be part of good teams, but now you are a factory rider, so what does that mean? You have to deliver results, but then there is an expectation on you in other areas: media and fans. There’s a whole ball around you that you have to manage.
AF: Yes, it is very different. I am discovering everything it means to be a MotoGP factory rider. But it’s good to see how many people are behind you, not just your team but the whole factory waiting for you and your results. It’s all about you. It’s nice, but of course, it is some pressure. I like this pressure, and as I said, I enjoy every moment.
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Lastly, what will your emotions and feelings be in Portimao when you are sitting on the grid, and the lights are about to go out for your first MotoGP race? Is there a part of you that will be reflecting a little bit? What is the emotion going to be?
AF: I’m looking forward to it, honestly. I don’t know what I will be thinking about now, but I’m looking forward to it, and it’s a dream come true: my debut in MotoGP. So yeah, I honestly can’t wait.