Miller close to top 10 at chilly and windy Sachsenring
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat battled cold and blustery conditions to make a positive start to the German MotoGP round at Sachsenring today.
Cool and damp conditions this morning restricted Dutch TT winner Miller and Rabat to just a handful of laps, with both opting for a safety first approach as track temperature peaked at just 15 degrees.
Conditions remained ominously cloudy but mainly dry for FP2, and despite a biting breeze still blowing around the 3.67km track, Miller and Rabat were able to carry out crucial work to gain experience of Michelin’s new asymmetric front tyre, which is part of the tyre allocation for the first time in 2016.
Miller adapted to the new front tyre option remarkably quickly and despite finishing 13th on the timesheets, the 21-year-old was extremely satisfied with his speed and progress in FP2.
His best lap time of 1.23.485 was just over 0.5s off the top six and using the confidence gained from his breakthrough first win in Assen three weeks ago, the Australia lapped faster than Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo on day one.
Michelin’s asymmetric front has been designed with a softer compound on the right side to help with initial warm-up performance and to maintain temperature, with Sachsenring dominated by 10 left turns in its 13-corner layout.
The impressive performance of the new asymmetric front still couldn’t prevent Rabat from being one of several crashers at the downhill turn 11, which is a fast right-hander taken in fifth gear with a blind approach.
The Spaniard was unhurt in the 200kph spill and a fastest time of 1.24.746 placed Rabat in 19th position on the combined leaderboard.
Jack Miller: 13th – 1’23.485
“I feel pretty good on the bike but it was a bit of a shame to miss most of this morning’s session because of the weather. Luckily enough we got some dry time this afternoon and I was able to put in some decent laps. I’ve got a bit of a strange feeling with the front at turn 11 and it can be quite scary at times. We’ve seen a few guys crash in that part of the track today and you’ve got to be pretty careful at that point. We’ve got the bike working pretty good and I’m really close in every sector apart from the second one. We’ve got some ideas to improve in that area so I’m really confident I can have another strong weekend. I like the track and the Honda is working well here again, so we’ve got an opportunity to be competitive again.”
Tito Rabat: 19th – 1’24.746
“Losing most of the session this morning, and the conditions being cold and windy for FP2, made today difficult for me because I need time on track to gain experience of riding a MotoGP bike here. It is difficult to get temperature in the front tyre, especially on the right side because turn 11 is the only fast right where you work the front hard. The conditions made it difficult but I was happy to improve on my last run but the crash at turn 11 caught me by surprise. I’d just clicked fifth gear and turned in when the front suddenly washed out. Fortunately I don’t have any pain, so I can return tomorrow motivated to give my maximum and improve my feeling.”
Chris Pike: Tito Rabat Chief Engineer
“Sachsenring is quite a unique circuit and it places a big demand on the front-end and Tito’s biggest problem today has been confidence with the front. You have to push hard to get the tyres up to working temperature but the air and track temperature is cold and there is a drizzle in the air, so it is not ideal conditions to push hard. It is not easy to build up momentum, so we’ll sit down tonight and try and come up with some solutions that give him more confidence in the front.”