Augusto Fernandez admitted that he “surprised myself” with his strong speed during the French Grand Prix that culminated in his best MotoGP result of fourth.

The GasGas pilot enjoyed by far the strongest weekend of his short premier class career so far, the reigning Moto2 world champion qualifying 12th having reached the pole shootout for the first time by escaping Q1 on Saturday morning.

Going into Sunday’s French GP on the back foot having crashed in the sprint race, Fernandez rode intelligently early on to survive several chaotic moments involving other riders to rise well into the top ten and even into rostrum contention.

He ended up taking the chequered flag a stunning fourth – just six seconds adrift of race winner Marco Bezzecchi – in only his fifth premier class weekend having been unable to hold off Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco, the Spaniard conceding that he was “surprised” to perform as well as he did so early on in his top flight career.

“I’m so happy, after the good qualy I crashed in the sprint and also in the warm-up so it was not easy and I lost a little bit of confidence.

“I tried to reset my mind going into the race knowing I had the pace to fight for something nice, not as much as this I surprised myself a little bit, but I felt good and made the right decision with the front tyre.

“I’m very thankful for the help the team are giving me, we are making the right steps so hopefully we can keep going in this direction.”

Fernandez admitted that he had to get used to how the differing levels of aero seen on MotoGP machines relative to his old Moto2 bike affected riding within a group, adding that he was “happy” with how he managed having to change his reference points on the fly depending on how close he was to the rider ahead.

“The groups are very different to how they are in Moto2 with all the aero things forcing you to change your references like braking points, and your general way of riding,” continued Fernandez.

“It’s quite strange but I’m happy with how I managed it and tried to stay in the group for the whole race doing a great pace, so I’m satisfied.

“We need to keep working and we’ll go to Mugello with the same goal to try and be in Q2 as this makes a big difference for the race, it’ll be important to be starting up front because normally the pace isn’t bad, this weekend was good but even on the other tracks it’s not bad so we’ll try and keep going.”

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