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Meet MotoGP Rookie Augusto Fernández

Meet MotoGP Rookie Augusto Fernández
Spaniard says goodbye to Moto2 and hello to MotoGP
World championship glory had to wait until the final showdown at Valencia for Augusto Fernández. In the end, it was definitely worth the wait, making the elation much bigger still. Augusto is Moto2 World Champion at last. Let’s look back at how he got here and talk about where he goes next: MotoGP.
From minibikes in the garden to MotoGP

Augusto Fernández arrived in Spain for the final round of the Moto2 World Championship with a slim points lead over title rival Ai Ogura. In 19 race starts, the 25-year-old from Mallorca had scored eight podiums, including four victories; Ogura had seven podiums, with three wins.

Waiting on the other side of Fernández’ greatest racing achievement to date was his first opportunity to test the Tech3 GASGAS Factory MotoGP bike on which he will make his premier-class debut in March at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal.

On the eve of the historic season finale, Fernández visited the REV’IT! Racing Technology Center in the Circuit Ricardo Tormo paddock to discuss his career and what lies ahead for him. We then followed up with Fernández after his first ride aboard the MotoGP machine.

Where did your motorcycle racing journey begin?

“I started at my dad’s house, in our garden, when I was 6 years old. I remember asking for a bike for my birthday. He bought my brother and me minibikes — 50cc Polinis.

“We did laps and laps, first with him behind to help us take the first steps. Then, we started to improve our skills. I did my first race when I was 8 years old, the Mallorcan minibike championship.

“Our first touch with racing was with Jorge Lorenzo’s dad, José. He was really into the racing mentality. Even if we were just there for fun, he was already teaching us but at the same time having a look to see if we had the talent or not.

“He was the first to tell us that maybe it was possible to try to think about a career. Step by step, I was winning races and winning championships. I learned a lot from him, because he was teaching us a lot of technical things that he used with his son.

“We were seeing Jorge winning titles in MotoGP, so his father was doing these things because they work. We were not really thinking about the future, just training a lot, and knowing why we were doing it. At the same time, we were having fun.

“One of José’s methods was to do everything. So, I was riding motocross, trials, supermoto, and road bikes. My mother, brother, and I were going all around Spain and doing every kind of motorcycle racing.”

Your path to the world championship included a season in European Superstock 600. Why didn’t you start with Moto3?

“I did a Moto3 test once, trying to find a team for the CEV Championship. It was the normal way, and everybody was doing that, but they were asking for a lot of money. The amount of money for one year was crazy. It was impossible for us.

“We tried to look for the cheapest option, and we found something like the MotoGP Rookies Cup with 500cc bikes in the Superbike paddock. It was like my Moto3 school: racing in a group, a lot of slipstreaming, and hard fights. I really enjoyed those years.

“It was clear that I wanted to be a MotoGP rider, not a Superbike rider. Everything I did was a way to come to this paddock. It was a different way but always in mind to move to a Moto2 bike as soon as I could.

“In 2015, I went to Superstock 600. It was a very good year, because we were fighting for the championship with Toprak Razgatlıoğlu and Michael Ruben Rinaldi. Federico Caricasulo was there, as well. I learned a lot, but the FIM quit the class.

“I had to repeat the class but on the CEV level. We knew the MotoGP paddock was looking more at the CEV paddock for riders. As soon as I started winning races, we started some conversations with CEV Moto2 teams, and we were finding the way.”

Was the transition from Superstock 600 to Moto2 more challenging than you expected?

“I remember the first test with the Moto2 bike. I was crashing a lot, because I didn’t have the feedback from the bike or from the tires. It took some time to get to know the bike, to get to know how the chassis works, and to get to know how the Moto2 style works.

“It was one thing to ride at the CEV level. The world championship was another riding style, as well. I had to change. This was more different than when I moved from Superstock 600 to CEV Moto2. I had to focus on the exit from the corners.

“On the Superstock 600 bike and on the CEV level, we were braking super-hard and just going into the corner. On the world championship level, braking hard is not the way to go fast. Step by step, I began to understand the class.

“Moto2 is one of the hardest championships, because everybody is on the same bike and everybody is good. One weekend you can fight for the win, and on a bad weekend you are fighting for points.

“You can be one tenth off and be out of the top ten, but you have to find the positive things. To find consistency — maybe not winning every race, but on the bad days trying to be closer to the top five — was my mentality this year.”

What have you learned from racing in Moto2?

“I learned more on the bad days, of course. In 2019, I did my first full year in Moto2, and I found the speed immediately. I started the year without any expectations, and I was fighting for the championship. Then, I had two very bad years.

“Of course, I learned a lot from my team, but I also learned a lot from those bad days in 2020 and 2021. Being at the top again after a bad period was a good thing for me, and it taught me how to make a full, consistent year.

“[Red Bull KTM Team Owner] Aki Ajo doesn’t speak to you on good days. He takes pressure off your shoulders on bad days. The first part of the season, I struggled a little bit to get the results that we all wanted. Aki was relaxed because he believed in me.”

How do you use practice to prepare for a race?

“I work a lot on used tires to try to be strong at the end of the race. You need to qualify on the front rows and you always need to be one of the fastest guys, but in Moto2 I’ve learned that one of the most important things is to have the pace for the race.

“That is where we can make the difference. Everybody is fast with new tires — they have a good feeling — but when people start to struggle physically or on used tires with very low grip, a little bit can mean a lot.

“You need to be consistent and to repeat those fast laps every lap, and I think I prove it when I win races. The last ten laps are one of my strongest points. That is because I have trained since the first practice on Friday to be strong on that part.”

Did you approach the championship weekend in Valencia differently than other races?

“No, I tried to do everything normally. I trained at home with my family. I had a normal meeting with my team, preparing for the weekend.

“I usually train on a Yamaha YZF-R6 or a supermoto bike at a karting track. We try to look for similar feelings to riding the Moto2 bike on a big track. I like to finish the week with the R6, then I jump on the Moto2 bike for the race weekend.”

Have you studied MotoGP — aerodynamics, carbon brakes, tires — anticipating your move to that class?

“I have been paying more attention to those things and asking questions. Moto2 made a very good step going from the Honda to the Triumph with a little bit more power and some electronics.

“I’m really looking forward to the MotoGP test to go into the winter having an idea of how to prepare myself physically, maybe with another bike. Maybe training on an R6 is not enough to prepare myself to be ready for next year.

“From what I saw this year with all the MotoGP rookies who were fighting last year for the Moto2 races — Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio Di Giannantonio, and a couple of years ago, Jorge Martín — they were fast immediately with the bike.

“Of course, they jumped in with Ducati, and the Ducati is a very good bike. In terms of rider level, they were ready. They took to the level super-quick, and I think Moto2 is good preparation to be fast or to already be a good MotoGP rider.” 

Next year, MotoGP has scheduled 22 rounds, which will include sprint races on Saturdays. Are you prepared for that challenge?

“I can’t imagine it. Maybe the sprint races are going to be hard, because the riders complain that MotoGP is so physical. I would have liked to have jumped a little bit earlier, after the 2019 season, which was a good one. 

“Now, with the maturity I have now — or I think I have — inside and outside the racetrack, and how I have been dealing with things during the last year and during the bad years, I think this is the best moment to jump to the MotoGP bike.”

What are your initial impressions of the Tech3 GASGAS Factory MotoGP bike after one day of testing at Valencia?

“All of my life, I dreamed about this first test with the MotoGP bike. You imagine the power, and it’s amazing. In the meeting with the team, I was shocked by how many new things I had to try. My goal was to learn.

“The MotoGP bike asks for totally different things, from how to attack corners to the way to pick up the bike when you accelerate. You can play a lot with the body to turn the bike and to control sliding.

“I was surprised, because my reference for every corner is not much different from the Moto2 bike. You arrive much, much faster, but you brake more or less in the same place. The stopping force is amazing.

“In Moto2, you focus on springs and shocks. With the MotoGP bike, we focused on electronics. We were feeling things to know how everything works. I need to get a new riding style. What MotoGP needs is very different from Moto2. 

“I was not thinking about laps. We were just going round and round. When we got to 83, the team said, ‘Wow, not bad.’ Now, I need some rest to realize what has happened, being Moto2 World Champion and a MotoGP rider. I still can’t believe it.”

Get to know all the REV’IT! Riders

Augusto Fernández is just one of a select group of riders that represents the REV’IT! brand in top-level racing series all over the world, including MotoGP, WorldSBK, MotoAmerica, and more. Get to know all the passionate, professional athletes in the REV’IT! racing family.