Miller and Rabat ready to tackle Honda’s home race
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS embarks on the most intense phase of the MotoGP World Championship this weekend, with Jack Miller and Tito Rabat braced for action in Honda’s all-important home race at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
Sunday’s 24-lap encounter is the first of three overseas races in just three weeks, with Australia and Malaysia coming hot on the heels of the Japanese round, which is the 15th leg of this year’s premier class series.
After missing the last two races in Misano and Motorland Aragon to allow himself ample opportunity to recover from two fractures in his right hand, Miller makes a welcome return to his Honda RC213V machine this weekend.
And the 21-year-old is determined to make up for lost time, as he goes in search of a confidence and morale-boosting performance to take to his vital home round in Phillip Island.
Miller has spent almost every waking hour in the build up to the Twin Ring Motegi race undertaking an intensive training regime at home in Australia to ensure he is in peak physical condition for the punishing challenge posed by the 4.8km Japanese venue.
The Twin Ring Motegi track is dominated by a series of hard braking zones and brutal acceleration points out of tight hairpins, but Miller is optimistic he can be part of the contest for a points scoring finish this weekend.
Spaniard Rabat is on a confidence-building mission of his own in the Far East after a tough recent run in his rookie MotoGP season.
A sequence of front-end spills have dented Rabat’s confidence of late, but he is as determined and focused as ever to make a good impression at the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi where he has finished on the podium in 2012 and 2014 while competing in the Moto2 category.
“It’s always tough to miss a race through injury and I’ve missed a few recently, but I'm positive all will be good for Motegi this weekend. Missing Aragon was the correct decision because the fracture in my hand wasn’t fully healed, so I would only have made things worse by racing there. Since Aragon I've been home in Australia working hard to get back to full fitness. Most of the training has been on the bicycle, but I also spent the last three days out on the water with the Jet Ski, which was fun. The hand is much improved and I'm looking forward to getting back on the bike this weekend in Motegi.”
“I love this month because we travel all over the world to make the races and it is without doubt my favourite part of the World Championship. One of my big targets is to get back to finishing races inside the points again after a couple of difficult experiences in the last two. I really like Japan and the circuit has been good for me in the past. I have learnt so much so far this year and it is time to start putting all the pieces of the jigsaw together now. I think the style of the Twin Ring Motegi could be good for our package because you have a lot of very hard braking points at this track and a strong point of the Honda is that it stops very well. I don’t honestly know what to expect though because every track we’ve been to so far this year has thrown up a surprise for me, but I like this track a lot and I’ve had some very good results there.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“The decision to have Jack sit out Aragon and concentrate on his recovery was a good one, as he heads to Japan in much better physical condition after an intense period of rehabilitation back home in Australia. He's been training hard and is feeling good going into the first of the three overseas races and everyone in the team is looking forward to seeing him back on the bike. Tito has also been putting in the hours preparing for these three races and I think Motegi is a track that may well suit his hard braking riding style. What is important is that he starts the three flyaway races strongly in Japan and then builds on that in Australia and Malaysia.”