Difficult return to MotoGP action for Miller and Rabat
The resumption of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship in Brno today proved to be a more difficult affair than anticipated for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat.
Competitive lap times were hard to come by for the hard charging duo on an opening day of practice at the famous Czech Republic venue dominated by contrasting conditions.
A wet track for this morning’s FP1 greeted Miller and Rabat on their return from the summer break, which was the worst possible scenario for the Australian, who was hoping for a full dry 45-minute session after he missed the 2016 Brno encounter through injury.
A dry track for FP2 did at least give Miller the opportunity to adapt himself back to the demands of mastering Honda’s RC213V 1000cc prototype MotoGP machine, after he spent the summer break competing on a factory-backed CBR1000RR SP2 superbike in the prestigious Suzuka Eight-Hour endurance race.
Miller’s main goal this afternoon was to gain more turning performance through some of Brno’s demanding and sweeping changes of direction, and he was satisfied to circulate close to the top 15 with a best time of 1’58.179.
Rabat took encouragement from his wet weather showing this morning after struggling for confidence in similar conditions at the previous round in Germany. This morning’s rain meant a dirty and slippery surface for slick tyres in FP2, but Rabat was able to evaluate potential front and rear tyre options and work on his machine set-up ahead of Sunday’s 22-lap race.
Jack Miller: 19th – 1’58.179
“After spending a lot of time in Japan riding a superbike for Honda in the Suzuka Eight-Hour, it has taken me a bit of time to get back into the groove on a MotoGP bike today. I felt we made good progress this afternoon, even though the final position clearly isn’t where we want to be. It was tricky conditions today and we know a couple of the other Honda boys came here to test in the summer break and they didn’t finish too far ahead. My biggest problem today was struggling with front-end confidence in the stadium section (T2). I need to be able to turn the bike a little better and if we can improve in that area I know I can be closer to the front.”
Tito Rabat: 21st – 1’58.437
“I was satisfied with my performance in the wet this morning because I felt much more confident and comfortable than I did at Sachsenring. So that was a positive but this afternoon it was not so easy. The track wasn’t in fantastic condition and I was having a lot of sliding with the medium tyres. The rear was sliding and the front for me feels too soft. We changed to the soft rear tyre to try and get better grip and that worked, but again the front was moving quite a lot under braking. I’m optimistic for tomorrow and feel ready to be strong whatever the weather will be.”
Ramon Aurin: Jack Miller Chief Engineer
“We can’t deny we expected a little bit more from today but we also have to be realistic and not forget that Jack missed this race last year through injury. We are trying to recover lost time at this circuit, so it didn’t help that FP1 was on a wet track. It is a long and complicated track and his most recent action was on a completely different machine in Suzuka, so he needs time to adapt back to MotoGP. It is clear that he is missing some feeling from the front-end but we have some good ideas to solve this problem tomorrow and I’m sure we will show more of our potential.”