Miller and Rabat make headway in soaked Sepang
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat had to call on their wet weather riding skills again today, as rain disrupted yet another day of MotoGP action at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
For the fifth race in succession this season, Michelin’s rain tyres were utilised after torrential rain fell during the lunch interval to completely drench the 5.5km track ahead of FP2.
The weather played a pivotal role too this morning when rain spots disrupted the opening exchanges of FP1 to limit the time Miller and Rabat could attack on Michelin’s slick rubber.
Miller can count himself unfortunate not to have secured a crucial place in the top 10 when a near high-side crash on his final lap this morning denied him what looked like being a comfortable passage into the top six.
A best lap of 2’01.803 in less than ideal conditions was still just over a second off the 2015 Sepang race record, but this afternoon’s downpour now means Miller is praying for a dry FP3 session tomorrow morning to give himself another opportunity to clinch a place in Q2.
Wet conditions have posed a tough challenge for Rabat throughout 2017 and today there were small glimpses that his recent hard work to improve is starting to pay off.
He is still lacking front-end feeling to attack with full confidence on a wet track and he found himself 20th on the combined standings.
Jack Miller: 14th – 2’01.803
“It’s a pity I missed the top 10 this morning because I had to save a massive high-side on my last lap. It was still my best lap but without the big moment I feel I was going to be fast enough to squeeze into the top six, let alone the top 10. I’m happy with how the bike is feeling in the wet and I spent the whole of FP2 out on the same set of tyres. They were pretty worn by the end but I was still able to lap at a consistently fast pace. I hope it is going to be dry for FP3 in the morning to get another crack at Q2. I feel I’ve got the pace to break into that top 10 but it's out of my hands and I’m relying on Mother Nature to do me a favour!”
Tito Rabat: 20th – 2’03.531
“This morning was very difficult to understand the condition of the track. I tried to push but didn’t have a good feeling and you must be careful because it is so easy to make a mistake. The track was wet this afternoon and unfortunately it was difficult again for me to find a good feeling. I’m trying everything I can to be more competitive but I am still so far away from the top, so we must try and find some answers tomorrow if we get more rain. I am trying at 200% to improve and maybe I should relay information to my crew chief better because it is hard to understand why I am so far behind in these conditions.”
Diego Gubellini: Tito Rabat Chief Engineer
“Today’s conditions have made it a complicated start here in Malaysia. This morning we didn’t use a soft slick tyre when the track was in reasonably good condition because we wanted to have a reference with the medium compound option. We know we have a margin to improve so we are not so concerned about the lap time but in the wet this afternoon we were concentrating on improving our base set-up. Even with a lot of water on the surface the asphalt is hot because of the heat and humidity and we tried a different set-up to what we ran when it was much cooler in Japan in these conditions. We have made a step with rear grip but we need to gain more performance and feeling from the front to improve our corner speed.”