Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez stepped back onto the podium after two excellent motos at the historic Maggiora circuit, while teammate Tim Gajser came within inches of winning the second race, in another performance that showed the 2022 MXGP Champion is back to his best.
After the heavy rain on Saturday, the track crew worked tirelessly overnight to fix up the track and with good weather all day today, the track was looking it’s best for this penultimate GP of the season. Gajser and Fernandez had fourth and fifth gate-pick respectively, after the muddy qualification race and they used that to their advantage in race one to round the first corner well-placed. Unfortunately, disaster struck for Gajser when a small tip-over in the second corner dropped him all the way to the very back of the field. Remounting as quickly as possible, the #243 overtook at least 10 riders on the first lap to move himself into the top 20, but from then on, his job became harder as the circuit became a bit more one-lined. Still, the Slovenian was able to move his way all the way up to ninth to give himself an outside chance of a podium.
Fernandez had kept things steady, rounding the first lap in sixth and eventually moving into fifth around the midpoint of the moto. It wasn’t the most action-packed race, with gaps in front and behind, but it was good to see a heathy #70 putting in a strong performance. A finishing position of fifth meant a good second race would see him on the podium for the first time since Germany and that’s exactly what the Spaniard was able to put together, withstanding tremendous pressure to give him third in the race and the third step on the box. It was a great moto and proved that when he is fully fit, he is one of the best riders in the world.
Ahead of him, Gajser was doing his best to take a deserved moto victory, getting off to a third-place start before moving into second after eight laps. He tried numerous times to pass the leader, but he wasn’t able to make it happen despite a couple of close calls, and instead had to settle for second place. It wasn’t quite good enough to get him on the podium, but it showed once again he has race-winning speed and he will head into a Matterley Basin – a track he really likes – full of confidence.
Fernandez will also be eyeing up a strong finish to this 2023 World Championship, and also likes the British track, so both Honda CRF450R riders will be travelling to England looking to challenge for the podium spots and give the Team HRC a reason to celebrate the conclusion of this 2023 campaign.
Ruben Fernandez 70
"It was good to come into this weekend feeling healthy and I think that showed in my riding. The first moto was difficult and I wasn’t at my best, but I was still able to finish fifth and rode a consistent moto. Then in race two, I got a good start and although I had a lot of pressure from the riders behind, I kept my fourth place and knew I was close to the podium. But then a mistake from another rider moved me into third place in the moto and third overall. It feels great to be back up on the podium, and it shows that when I’m fit and healthy, I can challenge the best. I’m really looking forward to the final round now!"
Tim Gajser 243
"My riding was good all weekend, but one small mistake cost me the chance of a spot on the podium. After that mistake in the second bend, when I was in third, I picked the bike up in dead last and I rode well to come through the field. I got as high as possible, which was ninth, but I knew that it would be very tough to get on the podium from there. I got another good start in race two, and was third for a while, before moving into second and I tried as hard as I could to win the moto but it wasn’t easy to make passes against the top guys and I had to settle for second, and fifth overall, just a couple of points away from third. Next weekend is Matterley Basin and I like that track and I’ll try my best to be on the podium at the final round."
Marcus Pereira de Freitas - HRC General Manager MXGP
"We are all really pleased for Ruben to get back onto the podium, and it just shows how hard he’s worked since Finland to get back healthy and go out on the track and prove he’s one of the top riders. He definitely didn’t have it easy in the second moto, but he withstood all the pressure and rode an excellent race. Tim also was great for 99% of the weekend, with just that small crash costing him. However, he is definitely looking back to his best and the MXGP of Great Britain should be a great occasion for both riders and nice finale for this 2023 world championship season."