Miller and Rabat off to solid start in Austria
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat diligently worked through a range of set-up options and different Michelin tyre combinations today to enhance their prospects of a double points scoring finish in Sunday’s Austrian MotoGP round.
The pair were just over a second off the best pace in an incredibly close opening practice this morning, which took part on a dry track, despite the constant threat of rain coming from grey and gloomy skies over the spectacular Spielberg track.
This afternoon’s second session commenced on a track that was almost completely dry, but damp patches at the tight turn 3 that resulted from a short earlier downpour prevented Miller and Rabat from carrying out any meaningful early set-up work on their Honda RC213V machinery.
Once the track was totally dry and ready for slick tyres, Miller and Rabat were both able to improve their pace compared to this morning, while gaining crucial information on potential tyre choice ahead of Sunday’s 28-lap Spielberg showdown.
The picturesque Spielberg track is dominated by hard braking zones, high-speed straights and demanding acceleration points, and it is a lack of corner exit grip that Miller will seek to improve as the weekend progresses.
Spaniard Rabat worked on gaining more front-end stability for the strong braking points today, and part of that process saw him as the only rider to circulate using Michelin’s hard option front tyre at the end of FP2.
Jack Miller: 20th – 1’25.335
“Coming to this track we knew it was going to be a difficult challenge for us with the circuit dominated by hard acceleration points, which is not the strong point of our package. We are doing our best to extract the maximum we can out of what we have got and I think we have done that. My rhythm is not too bad but we can see from the lap times and my position that it is not fast enough right now. We’ll be back tomorrow for another go but we have to make some improvements to have a good qualifying.”
Tito Rabat: 23rd – 1’25.616
“I felt this morning was very good and with the soft rear tyre I was able to set a fast lap that was less than 0.5s away from the top 10. This afternoon we decided to use the medium front and medium rear combination and it didn’t feel too bad. But then we changed something on the bike and I lost a bit of feeling entering the corner. To try and get a bit more stability on the brakes I decided to use the hard front tyre and the soft rear to make a lap time at the end of the session, but it was difficult to get the front quickly up to temperature. That’s why I perhaps slowed Marc a little while he was on a fast lap and I apologise to him because the last thing I intended to do was force him to slow down.”
Ramon Aurin: Jack Miller Chief Engineer
“We knew from last year that this track does not ideally suit the characteristics of our package, so we were prepared for today to not be the easiest. There is a lot of hard acceleration here and we are behind in that area, and we must improve in the last two sectors. That is where we lose a lot of time. We tried the soft rear tyre this morning to consider it as an option for the race and the pace was not so bad. But we have a lot to improve to be more competitive in qualifying.”