Miller and Rabat set hot pace in Arctic Austria
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat enjoyed an encouraging start to the Austrian MotoGP round today, despite unseasonably cold conditions at Spielberg.
Ambient temperature for this morning’s FP1 didn’t even reach double figures, while track temperature was an incredibly cool 14 degrees for the opening 45-minute session.
Despite the chilly conditions, Miller and Rabat were able to put in vital laps on two brand new Michelin rear tyres that were available today. The new tyres were designed based on information given to Michelin at the conclusion of a successful two-day test session at the super-fast and technical Spielberg track last month.
Conditions were significantly hotter for the test, but Miller and Rabat were still positive about the performance of the new rubber in today’s two practice sessions, which saw them finish 14th and 15th respectively on combined times.
A fully fit and confident Miller was an impressive eighth fastest this morning and he impressed again in slightly warmer temperatures this afternoon to improve his pace by over a second.
Miller finished 14th overall but found himself just 0.5s outside of the top six and he starred in the fast third sector of the 2.684 miles Spielberg track when he set the second fastest T3 split time this afternoon.
The Australian is now confident with hotter weather predicted for tomorrow that he can challenge for a place in Q2.
Rabat was just one place behind his teammate and he was delighted that the sharp drop in temperature did not alter his increased confidence in the front-end of his Honda RC213V package, which he improved after extensive work during the recent Spielberg test.
Jack Miller: 14th – 1'25.321
“I got off to a decent start this morning but the gap has increased slightly to the front in FP2. I am not worried because I know I can do a better lap time but we are still experimenting with the set-up of our package to suit the new tyres that Michelin have here. They are different to the spec we used at the test, so it is just a matter of me refining the set-up to make them work better for me. It was really hot at the test and Michelin made these new tyres based on that. They went hard for better tyre life but now we’ve got cold conditions. But it will be fine once the weather improves. I’m pretty happy with how today went and I am really satisfied with my pace in the last two sectors. I’m really fast in the third sector but we need to improve out of the slow corners in the first part of the lap.”
Tito Rabat: 15th – 1'25.770
“The track is very different compared to the test we did here last month and it is much, much colder. I am still happy because I have a good feeling with the front-end and this is the first time this has happened in the entire season in cold conditions. I think the biggest improvement I need to find is managing the wheelie coming out of the first corner. It is a very aggressive acceleration point and I can improve in that area. Today was one of the best opening days I’ve had this season, so hopefully in warmer conditions I can build on this performance tomorrow.”
Cristian Gabarrini: Jack Miller Chief Engineer
“The weather conditions are completely different to what we had at the test here last month and as soon as we knew it was going to be very cool today we expected it would take time to work on the set-up to get the best out of the new Michelin tyres. The main problem is managing the rear grip because we have a lot of sliding on entry and exit. The bike is moving a lot, so it makes acceleration more difficult and we are working to improve in that area without straying too far away from our test setting. In some parts of the track Jack feels really good but we need to try and give him more grip coming out of the slower corners. Hopefully this will become less challenging as the weather improves because it was very cold today and difficult to keep temperature in the tyres.”