#JapaneseGP - September 30, 2023

That’s another Super Saturday in the bag for the MotoGP™ class on the other side of the world, with GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 rounding up a positive Saturday at Mobility Resort Motegi. Pol Espargaro and Augusto Fernandez qualified twelfth and thirteenth on the grid, the best result of the team this season, which was followed by a decent effort in the afternoon’s Tissot Sprint with Espargaro finishing eleventh and teammate Fernandez in twelfth. 

Feeling super satisfied to have finally reached Q2 directly for the first time this season, Pol Espargaro fully reset this morning as another day of hard work was around. Free Practice 2 was an opportunity to confirm the bike’s settings for qualifying and make a few final adjustments. He rode his best in 1’45.537 and was sixteenth of the session. When qualifying 2 came around at 11:15 local time (GMT+9), Pol Espargaro improved quickly from his best lap time of Friday in his first run, with a 1’44.219, but the battle was going to be tough with many big contenders for the pole. On his first flying lap of run number 2, he immediately took his time down to 1’44.096, a lap which saw him take P12 on the grid, his best grid position of 2023. All ready and geared up for the first Tissot Sprint in Japan, lights went out at 15:00 local time in east Asia. He took a pretty decent start, as he held his starting position, just behind Joan Mir. He rode his fastest lap on lap 4, in 1’45.031, a pace which gave him the opportunity to overtake Mir and take P12. Now on the chase for Raul Fernandez, he rode a decent pace, and was progressively catching back on the number 25. He registered faster lap times than Fernandez in the last two laps, but twelve laps were too short for Espargaro to have the opportunity to overtake him. He completed the Tissot Sprint in P11, 0.107 seconds from the top 10.

In FP2, Augusto Fernandez appeared to have reunited with the positive feelings he had on his red GASGAS RC16 in FP1 on Friday, after he completed a decent session this morning with a best in 1’45.318, taking thirteenth of the final session before the qualifying. Shortly after that, he joined a busy pre-qualifying session alongside Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo. More confident than yesterday, he defended his chances quite well, but his time in 1’44.129 was 0.080 seconds too short, and he took third of the pre-qualifying. However, the rookie was satisfied with a thirteenth position on the grid, which was already a considerable improvement for him. When the race started, he maintained his position, but after one lap he found himself stuck behind Franco Morbidelli, in P14. The rookie was riding at a very similar pace to the Factory Yamaha rider, sometimes even faster, but struggled to find a little space to overtake him. Eventually, after five laps behind him, he managed to pass through him, which unlocked his race pace. From there, his rhythm improved as he looked to catch up with teammate Espargaro. He rode his fastest lap on lap 11/12, in 1’45.224. He was closing down the gap with the number 44, but that was too short for him, and he passed the checkered flag in P12. After seeing what they could do today in twelve laps, tomorrow looks promising for GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3, who will both target a top 10 result on Sunday’s race, at 15:00 local time (GMT+9).

Position: 11th
Championship: 24th
Points: 11
"I was expecting a bit more of today to be honest. The sprint was pretty fast, but I did not feel comfortable enough. I struggled in all areas of the corners, on the entry, the middle and the exit, in addition to being unable to overtake, meaning that my front tyre became too hot, and the pressure too high, so I was really struggling. We are still missing a bit of speed, so we will work tonight to prepare as much as we can, and hopefully we will fight for a better result on Sunday.”

Postion: 12th
Championship: 14th
Points: 58
"Overall it was a positive day for us because we recovered the feelings that we had on Friday morning. We missed Q2 for one position, but I started from P13 which is better than usual. In the Tissot Sprint, I lost a bit of time stuck behind another rider, but eventually once I had passed him, I was able to recover quite a lot because my pace was strong. Because of this, I look forward to trying again in Sunday's race, and hopefully fight for a top 10 result."

Team Manager

"Positive feelings on Saturday in Japan for both GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 riders. Pol Espargaro qualified directly into Q2 after a great ride yesterday, which was one of his objectives, so he was pleased with this progress. In the end, he started from P12. He did a good race but came back to the pit box a bit frustrated because he was catching back the group of riders in front of him. We are looking forward to tomorrow’s race on the long distance, because he has potential to finish in the top 10, and we know that this is his next target. On the other side, Augusto Fernandez’ main target is still to improve qualifying. He failed to reach the final qualifying session today, taking P3 of Q1 and therefore qualifying in P13. This was still progress for him. At the Sprint, he took a decent start but got stuck behind Franco Morbidelli which I think slowed him down, although he was catching back the front towards the end as usual. We need to continue trying to improve the starts of his races, because his pace is strong, so we are going to work on that."


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