Miller and Rabat ready to race as preseason testing concludes in Qatar
Jack Miller and Tito Rabat today successfully completed their preseason test program at the Losail International Circuit The next time the two Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders take to the track will be for free practice ahead of the Grand Prix of Qatar, the opening round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship.
The main focus for Miller on the third and final day of testing in Qatar was to complete a full race simulation using the latest specification Honda engine. The 22-year-old Australian showed good pace throughout the 21-lap run with all but three of the laps within the 1'56s bracket.
With the race simulation completed Miller then switched his attention to a fast lap, having gone with the softest of the tyre options provided by Michelin in his Honda RC213V. A time of 1'55.455 – his fastest lap of the test – on his second run saw him move up to the order to finish 16th on combined times.
Still recovering from the injuries sustained in his Sepang testing crash, Rabat's physical condition wasn't sufficient for him to complete a race simulation today. Instead the Team Estrella Galicia rider continued the work started yesterday on improving turning and acceleration from mid-corner to exit.
Despite not being fully recovered from the Sepang crash, Rabat's time of 1'56.214 set yesterday was enough to see him finish the three days inside the top 20. The former Moto2 World Champion will now focus on improving his physical condition ahead of the race.
Jack Miller: 16th – 1'55.455
“It's been another good day here in Qatar, I felt really comfortable on the bike and we got a lot of work done. I'm pretty happy with my consistency over the long run and the pace was strong, so when we return for the race we just need to continue working in the same direction. It was nice to get the lap time in at the end; it wasn't quite as fast as I'd have liked it to have been, we just didn't put it all together, but it means I have something up my sleeve for when we come back here in nine days time to race. I can't wait to get into it now!”
Tito Rabat: 20th – 1'56.214
“I wasn't expecting to feel as good as I have done on the bike when I arrived here in Qatar because of the injuries, but it's been much better than I could have hoped for. This morning it was a bit difficult, but things improved this afternoon and I started to feel more comfortable on the bike again. Most of the day was spent on the race tyres and I'm happy to have got down to a 1'56 on a set of tyres that had done race distance this afternoon. This was more important for me than a one-off fast lap at this test, but a fast qualifying lap on the soft tyre is something we definitely need to think about when we return here to race, because I was unable to take profit from the soft tyres today. But, overall, I'm happy with what has been a very positive test and now I'm looking forward to the race.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“This has been a positive test for us, with both riders improving a lot here compared to last year. Jack feels good with the bike and most of the issues we had last year are now gone. He tried a lot of things and did a lot of laps as we were focussed on race set up rather than chasing a fast lap, but he did manage to put in a quick lap right at the end on the soft tyre, which was good for his confidence. Tito has also improved a lot since the last time we were here, but his condition is still a handicap at the moment; he has no power and struggled a little to get the bike stopped. But when he's fit then I think we'll see quite clearly that this bike suits him better than the version he's tested previously. Now he will be working hard to recuperate further before returning to Qatar for the opening race of the season, where I hope to see both riders finish in the points.”