After a third in race one, Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez just-about survived the treacherous conditions in race two to finish 18th, giving him ninth overall for this MXGP of Latvia, when a podium looked the likely outcome for most of the weekend.
In the qualification race yesterday, the Honda CRF450R rider performed extremely well to get a third place, grabbing the holeshot and keeping a strong pace. That result gave him an excellent gate-pick for today’s motos which is important due to the layout of the first turn at the Kegums circuit, where the inside gates have a distinct advantage.
In the first moto, he used this position to almost grab another holeshot but he was just beaten around the first turn. In the usual chaos of the first lap, he dropped down one more place but soon settled into a fast rhythm, matching the riders in front. As the laps ticked off, Fernandez maintained his third position, which is where he stayed as he crossed the line, setting himself up nicely for the second moto.
In between the races, a deluge of rain hit the sandy circuit and although everything was still rideable, the hard-pack sand turned into a much more slippery and trickier surface that caused numerous riders’ problems. Unfortunately, Fernandez was one of them of as he had to bail from his bike on the big step-up in the back of the track midway through the moto, whilst running fifth. When remounting he discovered that work needed to be done to repair some damage so he pulled into the pits to allow his mechanics to go to work. Quickly and efficiently, they got the #70 back in the race, giving him a chance to recoup a few points before the chequered flag.
It wasn’t the ending that the Spaniard was looking for, as he missed out on the podium and lost some valuable points in the championship standings but thankfully, he is physically okay after the incident and will be hoping to make amends when he lines up in Teutschenthal, Germany next weekend for the ninth round of this 2023 MXGP World Championship.
Ruben Fernandez 70
"A very disappointing end to what was looking like a good weekend. I had a good first moto, riding a clean consistent race for third place and I was excited for the second moto. Unfortunately in between the races, there was a lot of rain and that changed the track a bit, but I still was in a good fifth position, for a long time in the race. Then I had a big incident on the step-up which meant that I had to pull into the pits. I was able to re-join the race and came back into the points but that’s not what I was hoping for when I arrived here. A big thanks to the team for all their work and I hope to get back to where I belong in Germany next weekend."
Marcus Pereira de Freitas - HRC General Manager MXGP
"It was a shame that Ruben wasn’t able to finish off the weekend because a podium was looking really likely after the first moto. He has been looking really good these past few weeks and this track suited his style so we were really hopeful to see him up on the box again, but when the conditions are this bad, these kinds of things can happen and we are glad he is okay after the incident. I am also pleased with the team who were able to get him back on the racetrack afterwards, enabling him to score some points, which can be crucial in the championship standings."