In front of a lot of his supporters, Team HRC’s Ruben Fernandez took an excellent victory in the MXGP of Portugal qualification race, giving him 10 valuable championship points.
The Spaniard, who lives just a couple of hours away from the Agueda circuit had been strong in each of the sessions and he showed just how fast he can be on a tricky track that is running in reverse from previous years, taking his first qualifying race win of the season.
Having got second gate pick after timed practice, Fernandez used that to his advantage, keeping tight on the inside and rounding the first 180 in second place. From there he stalked the leader for a few laps, working out where to make his move before a strong block pass saw him move into first. He quickly opened up a few seconds advantage over the rest of the field and he seemed to be cruising to victory. However, just before the two-lap board came out, a couple of small mistakes gave incentive to the rider behind and the gap quickly narrowed for what had the potential to be a couple of nervous laps. Instead, the Honda CRF450R rider put the hammer down and posted the fastest lap of the race, almost a second quicker than anyone else, showing he had plenty in reserve and allowing him to take the chequered flag, much to the delight of the majority of this Portuguese crowd.
After a race win and overall at the MXGP of Patagonia-Argentina in round one, this result was further proof of just how well the #70 has been performing this year and it now gives him first gate-pick and a lot of confidence for the two GP-scoring motos tomorrow. With weather conditions looking to be similar, Fernandez will be full of confidence as he tries to become the first rider to win two MXGP World Championship rounds in 2023.