Miller and Rabat encouraged by practice pace in Argentina
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat were satisfied with their progress and pace on the opening day of practice for the Termas de Rio Hondo MotoGP clash in Argentina.
Miller was quick out of the blocks in windy conditions this morning to lap within 0.3s of the top three in ninth, with the usually slippery 4.8km Termas de Rio Hondo circuit offering better grip and feedback than expected.
This morning’s effort was the perfect way for Miller to capitalise on his brilliant ride to eighth place in the season’s opening race in Qatar last month, and he was confident he could battle to retain his place inside the top 10 this afternoon.
Mindful that FP3 may be run on a wet surface with rain predicted tomorrow, Miller went into soft tyre time attack mode in the final stages of today’s second session, to try and claim an all-important top 10 placing that could potentially put him straight into Q2 tomorrow if rain disrupts proceedings.
But he did not get the expected increase in performance and grip from a brand new Michelin soft rear tyre and he finished 17th overall, but only 1.1s off top spot in an incredibly closely fought session.
Rabat was also in a positive frame of mind at the end of the opening day, having been in contention for a top 15 place in both sessions. Back to full fitness after his pre-season injury woes, the Spaniard was pleased to set a consistent rhythm, which bodes well for a point scoring challenge in Sunday’s 25-lap race.
Jack Miller: 17th – 1’40.588
“I was pretty satisfied with my pace this morning and I was very optimistic that I could keep my place inside the top 10 this afternoon. But when we stuck in a soft tyre at the end of this afternoon’s session it just didn’t give me the grip I anticipated. Sometimes that scenario can happen and unfortunately this time it was me on the wrong end of it. That was a shame but the positive is that I have a good feeling with the bike, even though the track is slippery. I’ve now got to hope the weather doesn’t turn bad for FP3 because I need it dry to try and force my way back into the top 10. I can’t control that but whatever happens I will be giving it 100%.”
Tito Rabat: 19th – 1’40.908
“We can improve a lot for tomorrow but I am happy with my performance today. I wasn’t at my physical best in Qatar after the big crash in Sepang at the start of testing but now I have full power and feel confident to push myself and the bike to the limit. I’m most pleased about the consistency of my lap times and I understand the potential of the bike. I am not far behind Jack and Lorenzo and Rossi so I have to be satisfied.”
Ramon Aurin: Jack Miller Chief Engineer
“One of the main tasks for us today was to work on adjusting the electronics and gearbox to suit the different character of the engine we are now using with Honda. This engine develops power in a different way compared to last year, so we need to adjust the gearing to have more rpm in some of the slower sections. Turns 5 and 13 are second gear corners and these are the two corners Jack was looking for the biggest improvement. He also wants less movement from the front but I think his potential is higher than what the timesheets show. On his last run on the new soft tyre, we checked the data and he had the same level of spinning as he had on a used hard rear, so we missed out on challenging for the top 10.”