An excellent second-placed finish in race two meant Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez finished the MXGP of Portugal on a high, following on from Saturday’s qualification race victory. His seven-two results meant his was fourth overall, a few points off the podium, with a small mistake in race one proving costly. However, it was a strong weekend in the championship standings and sets him up nicely for another ‘home’ GP next weekend in Spain.
The Agueda circuit, just a couple of hours away from where Fernandez lives was running in reverse this year and that seemed to be a big improvement in terms of lines and safety for all the riders. This showed in the qualification race yesterday as the Honda CRF450R rider made a great pass to the take the win. Victory also gave him an important inside gate-pick for the two motos today and he used that to his advantage, getting round the first few turns inside the top five in both races.
In race one, that translated into rounding the first lap in fourth place, which is where he stayed for the first half of the race. With a much wetter track than yesterday’s race, the #70 struggled to find the same rhythm and unfortunately, a crash then dropped him a few places. Remounting in seventh, he tried his best to challenge the riders in front but he was unable to make any ground and crossed the line in the same spot.
Knowing that he’d have to ride at his very best to get on the podium in front of a large contingent of his fans, he powered out of the gate in race two like a man on a mission. Within a couple of turns, the Spaniard was in first place, receiving the adulation of the crowd as he rounded for the first lap. He then tried to stretch out a lead, but he was never able to break free and instead relinquished his position on lap four. He stuck with the new leader for a few laps before settling for a strong second place, giving him 36 points from the two motos and fourth place overall. It was a shame not to get on the podium, but he is now just 20-points behind fourth in the MXGP World Championship, with a 20-point buffer ahead of sixth place.
The series now heads directly to Arroyomolinos, Spain for round six, where once again Fernandez will be an extremely popular rider with the Madrid crowd, and he’ll be looking to really give them something to cheer about as he aims for his second podium of this 2023 championship.
Ruben Fernandez 70
"Fourth again, but I’m happier this time around than I was in Trentino. My riding was good all weekend and although a small mistake in race one cost me the podium, I rebounded well in race two to lead for a bit and then finish second. Combine that with the qualification race victory and I have to positive about the event, which saw me gain good points on fourth and increase my lead over the sixth-placed rider in the championship. Thanks to everyone who cheered me on around the track, it was really great experience and I hope I can do that next weekend in Spain!"
Marcus Pereira de Freitas - HRC General Manager MXGP
"We came into this weekend with a lot of hope for a good outcome and I’d say we left here with that. Anytime you can win a race it is a good thing, and a great feeling for Ruben and for the team to experience. Unfortunately a small crash in race one today cost him the chance of finishing on the podium but he made sure he didn’t do the same again in race two and that is an improvement and that’s what we’re looking for. The fans support was good to see and we’re hoping for more of the same in Spain next weekend for what should be another excellent occasion."