Miller and Rabat build confidence at majestic Mugello
Clear blue skies and scorching hot conditions presented Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat with the perfect opportunity to focus on the race set-up of their Honda RC213V machinery in practice ahead of Sunday’s Italian MotoGP race.
Conditions were perfect for riding at the breathtaking Mugello track in today’s two 45-minute practice sessions, with Miller and Rabat able to complete 74 trouble free laps between them that helped the pair collect vital data in advance of Sunday’s demanding 23-lap race.
Australian Miller is still not in peak physical condition after his monumental high speed crash in FP4 at Le Mans 13 days ago, but he showed his trademark grit to tackle the numerous physically demanding fast changes of direction at the 5.24km Mugello track.
Today’s practice provided further evidence of the closeness of the competition in MotoGP this season, with Miller down in 17th position but he was only a second away from the top three.
Improving turning performance to help him accelerate more aggressively on corner exit will be a key target to improve overnight for Miller and his crew.
Spanish rider Rabat was only 0.104s and one place behind Miller on combined standings, with the former Moto2 World Champion making excellent progress throughout the opening day of action ahead of the sixth round of the 2017 MotoGP campaign.
With the top 10 less than a second away, Rabat is hopeful he can put up a strong battle for a place in Q2 at the end of tomorrow morning’s FP3 session.
Jack Miller: 17th – 1’48.560
“I’m still recovering full strength after the big practice crash in Le Mans but I feel reasonable on the bike. We kind of expected to struggle a little bit here with the straights and I need to find a little bit more feeling from the front. As soon as I release the brakes I seemed to run a little bit wide and I’m not able to finish the corner. And turning off brake is so crucial at this track. It hasn’t been a bad day and I’m happy with my pace on race tyres. I think we can find some serious time if we can get the bike dialled in for the latter part of the chicanes, so I have confidence to really wind the power on to drive it out on to the straights. Now, the front feels a bit light and we will focus on improving in that area tonight.”
Tito Rabat: 18th – 1’48.664
“I think we did a very good job today. I have been consistent in both sessions and I am happy with the progression we made throughout. The good conditions enabled us to focus solely on working on the bike for the race and I think we have already found a good direction for Sunday. The times are very close and I am not far behind Jack, so we have to make sure we build on this strong start to fight for the points again on Sunday.”
Ramon Aurin: Jack Miller Chief Engineer
“This is the first weekend that we have had the new stiffer construction front tyre from Michelin in the allocation and it looks like we don’t have the bike setting quite right for its different characteristics. We couldn’t test it last week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya because Jack needed time to focus on his recovery from the Le Mans crash. But it seems we have too much weight on the rear and that is pushing the front. The issues seem to be worst in the chicane, so we have listened to Jack’s feedback and tonight we will study the data to understand what changes we can make to the bike to improve his feeling with the front.”