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Fernandez heads to France as Gajser getting closer to being back on the bike

Fernandez heads to France as Gajser getting closer to being back on the bike
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Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez heads to Villars-sous-Ecot in France, fresh off the back of a podium performance at his home GP in Arroyomolinos, Spain last time out. The Spanish rider rode excellently for his five-two results, which gave him third step on the podium and catapulted him in third place in the 2023 MXGP World Championship standings too.

After winning the opening round of the season in Patagonia-Argentina, the Honda CRF450R has had to fight hard to get back inside the top three, but after two fourth place finishes in a row in Trentino and Portugal, he made the necessary improvements to get back to where he belongs and cement himself as one of the best motocross riders in the world.

It’s been over five years since Villars-sous-Ecot hosted a world championship round, when heavy rain hit the circuit and made the hillside terrain treacherous for all the participants. On that occasion, Fernandez finished fifth overall in the EMX250 class with a third in moto one, so he’ll be hoping for more of the same this year. The weather forecast is looking a lot better for the weekend and changes have been made to the layout, so everyone’s fingers are crossed that we’ll have a great weekend of action on the updated circuit which should be packed with passionate French fans.

Unlike the last two GPs in Portugal and Spain where Fernandez has been the crowd favourite, the #70 won’t have the biggest section of supporters in France, but his popularity has grown significantly this year due to his performances on the track and his cool, calm and kind demeanour off it. With reigning world champion Tim Gajser still absent from the start-gate as he recovers from his broken femur, the likable Spaniard is giving the Honda fans someone to cheer for and with his current form, he’ll be hoping to be waving back at them from the podium after two good motos on Sunday in what is the eighth round of this 2023 season.

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Ruben Fernandez 70
It was a couple of really intense GPs with Portugal and Spain being back-to-back and being my local and home races. There was a lot of fans and a lot of support, which was obviously really nice to hear and experience, but it did add a bit of pressure. Still, standing on the podium in Spain was an amazing feeling and I’m so happy to have achieved that, so now my goal is to keep that up and make it happen again in France this weekend. I’ve heard they’ve changed the track around a bit so that is good and it’s been a while since it’s been on the calendar anyway, so I’m looking forward to going back there.

Tim Gajser 243
Obviously I really want to be racing now and I’m really missing going to the GPs and seeing everyone and being behind the gate, but at the same time, I don’t want to rush back too early and start competing when I’m not 100% fit. I’m close to getting back on the bike and riding, and I’m really looking forward to that as its something I’ve done ever since I was a kid and it’s a massive part of my life so to be three months without it is really difficult. Once I’m riding, it’ll be much easier to gauge how I’m doing and from there, I’ll have a better idea of my return and when I’ll next be at an MXGP event but I definitely appreciate all the support I’ve received and I hope to see everyone at the races soon.

Marcus Pereira de Freitas
HRC General Manager – MXGP
We’re all so proud of how Ruben has raced this year so far, and also how he has dealt with everything that has happened. It certainly hasn’t been easy but he just stays so calm and relaxed and he is a pleasure to work with. Third place in the championship so far is a great achievement and we hope he can continue this momentum at Villars-sous-Ecot, which is a typical French hillside track and one that we believe he can perform well on, and get up on the podium once again. Of course we are missing Tim, and we can’t wait to have him alongside Ruben on the start gate, but his recovery is on schedule and we are helping him with whatever he needs.

Words: Press Release

Image: Shot by Bavo

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