Miller and Rabat get bumpy ride in Texas practice
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat made a promising start to this weekend’s Grand Prix of The Americas, with both making significant strides in preparing their Honda RC213V machinery for a double-points attack in Sunday’s 21-lap race.
The main challenge for both Miller and Rabat today was finding a set-up that allowed them to ride comfortably fast on numerous bumpy sections that now dominate the 5.513km Circuit of The Americas venue.
The spectacular and undulating circuit already provides a unique challenge, with Miller and Rabat seeking a compromise between braking stability for the famously fierce stopping zones in Austin, while also retaining agility and turning performance for the jaw-dropping changes of direction. That challenge though was further complicated today, with both reporting a significant increase in bumps compared to last year’s race.
Australian Miller was still satisfied with his performance in getting the RC213V machine to absorb the bumps better. Miller challenged for the top six in an exciting FP2 and he ended the day in 13th place and close to the top 10.
It was an equally constructive day for Spanish rider Rabat, who struggled with the varying nature of the Circuit of the Americas last year, which is a demanding 20-corner track with a 41 metre climb to the first corner and the longest straight on the 18-round World Championship schedule.
Rabat was much more at ease on track in his second MotoGP visit and that was reflected on the timesheets after he lapped almost a second faster this afternoon to finish 17th overall.
Jack Miller: 13th – 2’05.463
“I felt pretty comfortable on the bike today but the track is definitely bumpier than it has been in the past. It is something that we are going to have work on with the setting tonight to make our package a bit more user-friendly around here. It seems that the bike gets very unstable and once you hit the bumps it is difficult to stop the bouncing and shaking. The biggest issue with the bumps seem to be mid-corner. I think it comes a lot from Formula One because they have so much downforce and go through the corners with such speed and pressure on the tarmac that it creates bumps in the middle of the corner and that makes it hard. I’d have liked to have kept my place in the top 10 at the end of the session but I still view it as a positive start to the weekend and I feel competitive.”
Tito Rabat: 17th – 2’05.943
“This morning in FP1 I felt strong and confident but this afternoon I didn’t have the same feeling. I experienced a problem and I must thank my team for finding a solution very quickly that allowed me to recover some of the positive sensations from the first session. I was confident I could improve my lap time at the end of the session but when I tried to push I found a lot of traffic and it was not possible. I’m happy though because this track was very difficult for me last year, and to be doing the lap time I managed makes me optimistic that I can be fighting in the points again.”
Ramon Aurin: Jack Miller’s Chief Engineer
“The big challenge today has been to work on a compromise for the setting of the front of the bike. You need to be relatively soft to absorb the bumps but you also need to consider harder front fork options to manage the hard-braking zones and to give you support in the middle of the corner to carry good corner speed. It is the same process for the rear set-up too, so we will take a close look at the data tonight and work on modifying the setting to help us reach that compromise. I think our race pace is not too bad but we need to improve our one lap pace for qualifying. We can’t seem to be able to put together one fast lap. Jack is fast in all four sectors but we need him to do it all together on one lap for a good place on the grid.”