Kallio and Rabat lead the field in Jerez
Mika Kallio smashed the Jerez lap record by over a second on the final day in Spain, posting a time of 1’42.169 to finish the three days of testing at the top of the timesheet, just as his Marc VDS teammate, Tito Rabat, did one week ago in Valencia.
Rabat looked all set to repeat the success of Valencia, after finally ousting Tom Lüthi from the number one slot on the timesheet with a time of 1’42.223. But shortly after calling a halt to testing, the 24-year-old Spaniard had to sit and watch as his teammate finally denied him the top spot.
It was a tough test for the team’s Moto3 rider, Livio Loi. The 16-year-old Belgian made good progress on the opening day, but the increased pace meant he struggled to find a good feeling with the bike on the remaining two days.
Kallio and Rabat will now head to Australia, where they’ll participate in a Dunlop Moto2 tyre test at Phillip Island from 3 – 5 March, their final test ahead of the first race of the season in Qatar. Loi will return to Jerez from 11-13 March, to participate in the final Moto3 test.
Mika Kallio: 1st – 1’42.169
““The first two days we confirmed the settings we tested in Valencia, keeping our preferred tyres for the race and qualifying simulations today. In the race simulation I was happy with my speed and consistency, with my best and worst laps separated by just half a second. In the qualifying simulation I finally had the feeling that was missing last year – the feeling of being on the limit. I knew I was on a fast lap, but it’s always good to see it confirmed on timesheet, especially when your name is on the top! Okay, it’s only testing, but it all builds confidence ahead of the first race.”
Tito Rabat: 2nd – 1’42.223
“It’s been a good test for us, as we’ve managed to test a lot of things on the bike over the three days. Each time we’ve made a small step, but always in the right direction, constantly improving the bike and the lap time. We still have some things to try in Phillip Island next month, mainly tyres and fairings, but I’m happy with where we’re at right now. The aim during testing was always to build towards the first race in Qatar and that’s exactly what we’ve done here at Jerez and in Valencia last week.”
Livio Loi: 12th – 1’46.906
“The first day I was already quicker than I was here last year, but increasing your pace also highlights problems with the set-up of the bike that weren’t apparent before. We worked through different settings on the second day, and there was some improvement, but we made a bigger step today, and I was able to break into the 1’46s bracket for the first time. Of course, now I’m faster again, the bike again feels different and this is something we’ll have to address at the next test. It’s a lot of work, but when it brings results like it has today then it’s definitely worth it.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“There’s not much I can say about Mika and Tito, other than they’ve done a great job once again. With Tito topping the timesheet in Valencia and Mika claiming the top spot here in Jerez, it means we go into the new season confident that both riders will be able to fight, not just for race wins, but also for the championship. With Livio we still have some work to do. He improved his pace compared to last year straight away, but then stalled because the bike felt different at this new pace. Today he made a few small changes, but the improvement came from him, not the bike, and he did a good job to break the 1’47s barrier this afternoon. Now he needs to come back next month, start at the same pace and make another step, which, again, can only come from him.”