#FrenchGP - May 11, 2024

The now-usual Super Saturday awaited the premier class today at the Bugatti Circuit as Red Bull GASGAS Tech3’s Pedro Acosta and Augusto Fernandez had Free Practice 2, the qualifying stages and the Tissot Sprint on their menu, all of that in dry and sunny conditions! Qualified directly in Q2 after claiming third of Practice on Friday, Acosta got himself a sixth place in the Tissot Sprint, while Fernandez lined up in P20 on the grid, and finished in seventeenth in the afternoon's sprint.

After he claimed P3 on Friday’s Practice on his debuts in the premier class on the French layout, Pedro Acosta had Free Practice 2 to get ready for the qualifying stage, his 5/5 Q2 in MotoGP™! In a busy and extremely tight final qualifying shootout, the rookie defended his chances pretty well. Halfway through the session, he had his best lap in 1’30.679 and was provisionally on the second row, 0.760 seconds from Jorge Martin who was leading at that moment. He improved again to 1’30.650, but a late fast lap from 2023 French Grand Prix winner, Marco Bezzecchi, pushed him away from that second row, and Pedro Acosta qualified in seventh for what was going to be his fifth Tissot Sprint. Conditions were hot when it was time for the premier class to line up on the grid just before 15:00, and the exercise promised to be challenging. When lights went out, the rookie lost a bit of ground in the first lap and lost three positions to find himself in tenth behind Enea Bastianini. Shortly after, Raul Fernandez lost some ground too and Acosta was up in ninth, behind Fabio Di Giannantonio. On lap 6, he progressed to P7 as Jack Miller made a small mistake. With four laps to go, Pedro was in seventh, and he moved up to sixth when Bezzecchi, who was in second, made a mistake. The rookie was just 0.5 seconds away from the experienced Aleix Espargaro, and the shark was hungry for a Top 5 on the team’s turf. Eventually, after another crazy save in turns 13-14 in the final laps, the rookie took the checkered flag in sixth, and scored another four points for the championship.

The lap times were extremely close on Friday’s practice with seventeen riders less than one second from each other. Despite being just 0.855 secs from the fastest lap, Augusto Fernandez closed Friday in sixteenth and was forced to go through the pre-qualifying stage. After Free Practice 2 that allowed the riders to perfect their set up, the Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 rider headed to Q1 at 10:50 local time. After five laps, he had already clocked in a 1’31.473, and tried to go for more in the final time attacks, but a late crash while he was improving his sectors reduced into ashes his hopes for a decent grid position. His fifth lap was the one that counted, and it placed him twentieth on the grid. As the race started, Fernandez went to P19 in one lap, but something appeared to bother him with the back of his bike, and the lap times were not the ones expected. With a few crashes at the front, he finished the Sprint in P17, and will hope for a better performance on the long hole tomorrow.

Position: 6th
Championship: 4th
Points: 73
"We made a good start in the sprint today, we were able to disengage all the devices that are usually a bit tricky for us, which was a positive. However, I had not planned that the riders inside the first corners were going to give the opportunity to the others to pass on the outside, so we lost some positions at the beginning, but overall we are happy. The pace was good, we could have fought for the podium today, so I am looking positive for the main race."

Position: 17th
Championship: 17th
Points: 10
"Since the start of the sprint, I felt really bad with the rear tyre, and the feeling was not good at all. Looking back at the whole day, we were a bit more competitive in P2 and in qualifying this morning, even if I crashed in the end, and I feel like I am getting back to my riding style, and the feeling is coming back. It is positive, and let’s try to do a good race on Sunday.

Team Manager
"It was a decent Saturday here in sunny Le Mans for the Red Bull GASGAS Tech3 team. This morning, qualifying was a bit of chaos, there were many yellow flags, and Pedro Acosta managed a third row in these conditions. It was not his target, but still, it was decent. He got a bit caught at the start of the sprint, but he managed to ride at a strong pace to finish in a promising top 6, although he will want more for tomorrow. The weather for the main race looks tricky, so we will have to play with it. On the other hand, Augusto Fernandez has been struggling all day with different issues, including in the sprint, and he could not ride at the level he wanted. To be realistic, we hope that the weather will play in his favour and give him a little boost. Let’s get back to work, and prepare for Sunday’s race.


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