Augusto Fernandez interview: Stepping onto the world stage
2017 has been quite a season so far for young Spaniard Augusto Fernandez.
Having started the year in the FIM CEV Repsol Moto2 Championship with the easyRace Team, and looking good as a favourite for the title on the back of his stellar 2016 rookie season, he very soon found himself picked up by the Speed Up Team in the Moto2 World Championship instead; a whole new world and a whole new level of riding and learning, to which he continues to adapt…
“Yeah – this year, in CEV, the intention was to win the (Moto2) championship,” says Augusto. “We started really well, on the podium, but when there was the opportunity to come to the World Championship then that’s what we did. We were in the CEV in the first place to move on up to the World Championship.”
Making his mark straightaway in the 2017 CEV season, with a podium, he was contacted by the Speed Up squad who had decided to part company with rider Axel Bassani, and knew that Augusto would be a suitable replacement, being aware of his career history.
“The Team decided to drop Bassani – their original 2017 rider – as he wasn’t getting good results and wasn’t getting on well in working with the Team, and they called me to ask if it would be possible to do a test at Misano. The test went really well and so we took it from there.
They knew of me through my riding in the CEV – and also through Julian Simon who was with them last year.
The feeling with the bike was good from the beginning, as was the feeling with the Team. They’re really good; the way they work with rider and bike, and the telemetry – it’s all really professional, and I liked working with them right from the start too.”
Since being taken on by the Speed Up Team, Augusto has been busy learning new circuits as well as a new bike. Many tracks across 2017 will be new to him.
“Yes, there are new circuits to learn,” he says. “Mugello which was my first race with the Team, Brno, Sachsenring, Austria… And also for example Silverstone which I have raced some years ago in the European Junior Cup – you have to learn that again on a completely different bike, so that feels new as well.
I take the same approach at all the new circuits. You start from scratch, and in the first sessions I learn what the limits are, where you brake, and so-on… and then you improve session by session as a rider as you get to know the track, and also the bike improves as the Team work on developing the settings too.
I have a great crew who help work on the set up – and we use the telemetry from Julian and also from Sam (Lowes) who rode with the Team before to help guide us. Seeing it all does not give you the correct set-up but it is helpful in getting started and understanding how they approached the track.”
With tracks that he has never ridden on before, does he also use video games at all to help become familiar with them as part of the learning process?
“Yeah I use video games to learn the tracks too. Obviously you’re not learning anything about actually ‘riding’ the track but it helps you visually, it helps you with the layout of the track and getting to know the corners and so-on but, yes, very much for familiarising yourself with a track visually but not really more than that.”
The races have been a mix of promise and frustration, with solid progress through the weekends sometimes knocked back by technical issues or simple bad luck – such as a technical DNF at Sachsnering, or some great pace and performance in Austria hampered on race day by being pushed to the back of the field in order to avoid first corner chaos. Augusto staged a formidable fightback, but without having to avoid the fallout at turn one it could have been so much more.
“It was a shame in Sachsenring, where we had tyre problems, as we were really wanting to fight for points there – so that was disappointing.” he admits. “Austria too was disappointing as we were in a good position to fight hard there, but at the very start of the race – on turn one – there were two crashes and I was forced to go far off track to avoid them, so in the end we had to fight from the back. I think we are in a better position than a result like that suggests, and we can be hoping to fight for points.”
So what lays ahead for the rest of 2017? Is he looking forward to revisiting some favourite and familiar tracks on a new bike? And what are his aims for himself?
“I’m really looking forward to racing on some of the remaining tracks this season, which for example I know already through riding them in other championships – Misano, Aragon, Valencia…
As for my aims for the rest of the season, I would like to start getting in the points regularly, and to just continue improving how I ride with the bike and work with the Team.
It’s been quite a change from CEV – I meet a lot more fans, and fans from different places, it’s all good and I’m really enjoying being in the World Championship. It’s a great atmosphere, good to be a part of, and a great opportunity to race in.”
Augusto’s journey continues – with an unexpectedly early move from CEV Repsol into the World Championships – and along with that, all the opportunities and challenges that one can expect. He and the Team are deservedly happy with progress, but won’t be letting up one bit as the season marches on.
Interviewed by Gareth Bouch for Augusto’s official website during the Silverstone weekend.