History of motorcycle racing continued to be made on Saturday with the Buddh International Circuit hosting THE MotoGP™ Super Saturday, with the qualifying sessions in the morning and the Tissot Sprint in the afternoon. Augusto Fernandez and Pol Espargaro qualified in P18 and P20 this morning. That was before the Tissot Sprint start was delayed due to track conditions, with the circuit being way too damp to go racing. By the time it was good enough to give the green lights, it was past 5pm local time (GMT+5:30). Unlucky Pol Espargaro was taken down in turn 1 at the race start by Stefan Bradl, while birthday boy Augusto Fernandez got his second best Sprint result with an eleventh place.
Happy twenty-sixth birthday Augusto! Although a cake was waiting for him, business first as FP2, qualifying and Tissot Sprint awaited the Spaniard who was eager for more track action on the new Indian layout. In Free Practice 2, nineteen riders were less than one second from each other, including Augusto who got pretty close from his Practice time, with his best of FP2 in 1’45.982 placing him in twelfth. Looking good out there, there were hopes for the rookie to make it to the final qualifying, as for once he was equals with the rest of the grid. On his first run, he had already ridden his fastest lap of the weekend, in 1’45.161, but the game was not over. He continued to push in the final lap, until he rode a lap which would have powered him to Q2, but unfortunately, a last lap crash from Nakagami obliged the race direction to wave the yellow flag, meaning that Augusto’s lap was cancelled. His previous lap in 1'45.066 made him take eighth of Q1, and eighteenth on the grid. Pol Espargaro was looking to regain confidence on his bike after two crashes yesterday morning. In FP2, he was seventeenth (+0.943 seconds). In the pre-qualifying, the GASGAS Tech3 rider did not manage to do much better than 1’45.452, and he qualified in twentieth for both Sprint and Sunday’s race.
The stage was all set for India’s first ever Tissot Sprint, but the rain invited itself to the party early afternoon, leaving the track impracticable, completely damp. That delayed the sessions from lower categories, and logically the Tissot Sprint start. However, with the riders having never ridden in India in wet conditions, the race direction decided to adjust the procedure and allow a fifteen minute-practice for all to accustom themselves in the wet. Immediately after this, a quick race start procedure was in place, but with the track still being damp, the Sprint start was delayed to 17:05 local time. When lights finally went out for the first time ever in Delhi, Pol Espargaro did not have any chance to do anything when he was taken down in the first corner by another rider. Nothing he could do, that was it for him. On the other side, Augusto managed to make it through turn 1’s chaos, and was in P15 after one lap. Progressively he settled into his race pace, sitting behind Miguel Oliveira for a while, until he was able to overtake him after six laps, and then it was Aleix Espargaro’s turn the next lap. Halfway through today’s showdown, he was eleventh, behind Fabio Di Giannantonio, but the Gresini rider has quite a significant gap on the rookie. Augusto focused on reducing that gap, and he even rode his best lap in the last lap, which by the way was today’s fourth fastest lap (1’45.147, +0.591). He finished in eleventh, a great result leaving place for a strong opportunity to score points on Sunday. Just one day left in India already, don’t miss the main race of the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday, at 15:30 GMT+5:30, for twenty-one laps.