Gardner and Fernandez set for ‘level playing field’ at MotoGP Malaysia
Tech3 KTM boss Herve Poncharal expects his rookie MotoGP riders to enjoy a kind of “level playing field” this weekend at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
MotoGP’s 19th round of its season brings the field back to Sepang after a Shakedown test and an official test during pre-season, from late January to early February.
While this isn’t the first time Tech3 duo Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez have returned to a site where they’ve ridden the KTM RC16 before, having competed in the Misano mid-season test last year, it’s always a first.
Then the two got their very first taste of the class-leading machines, which they found to be a very different proposition to what they had ridden in Moto2 at the time.
The return to Sepang will therefore be a little more comparable to what the Australian and the Spaniard have already experienced.
“Just a few days after the positive weekend we had at Phillip Island with Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez, we are already ready for the next round in Sepang, Malaysia,” said Team Manager Poncharal.
“This time, the two drivers will already know the track very well following winter testing and will have references with Michelin tyres, carbon brakes, etc.
“While it probably won’t be a huge advantage, hopefully at least it will be on par with the rest of the class.
“They both had a good feeling on their bikes in February, and all we can hope for is that they get that feeling back, as they are both looking to feed on the positives from the last race in Australia.”
The usefulness of test mileage for Gardner may well be diminished to some degree by the fact that he was riding in February with a recently fractured wrist.
However, he had a similar grip to his team leader.
“We have already tried the international circuit of Sepang during the winter tests in February this year, so we will already have experience with the bike and information to start, which is already a bonus compared to the last three races at overseas we just did,” said the Sydney-born pilot.
“Hopefully we can fight for the points, and we’ll see if we’re lucky with some rain, which might help us.”
Gardner picked up a championship point in his first and potentially only Australian MotoGP race when he finished 15th a few days ago at Phillip Island.
Training in Sepang starts tomorrow.