Miller close to top 10 in Assen practice
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller came within a whisker of claiming a hard-earned top 10 placing on the opening day of practice for the historic Dutch TT in Assen.
The Australian, who took a famous maiden premier class victory at the 4.5km track one year ago, started strongly in cool and breezy conditions this morning, with a 1’35.193 securing him 11th in a dramatically close session that saw the top 16 riders split by less than 0.9s.
With rain predicted to play a part in proceedings tomorrow, Miller was eager to set a top 10 time in FP2 to guarantee him an automatic place in Q2 should the weather prevent an improvement in lap times in the crucial third 45-minute practice session.
It was almost mission accomplished for Miller, who improved his own pace by nearly a second this afternoon in a session that saw light rainfall briefly disrupt the action.
Miller’s best lap of 1’34.337 was less than 0.2s away from the all-important top 10, but he was still able to outpace the likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone, who are all on board full factory machinery.
Tito Rabat made solid progress with the set-up of his Honda RC213V machine this afternoon and he lapped 1.3s faster in FP2, despite lacking front-end feeling.
The significant improvement was unfortunately not reflected in his final position on the timesheets, but Rabat is confident he can take another big step forward tomorrow around one of the fastest and most technical tracks on the MotoGP World Championship schedule.
Jack Miller: 12th – 1’34.337
“At the end of the session today I was really trying to break into the top 10 to try and make the Q2 cut off. I might have made it but I got held up a bit on my last flying lap. The weather forecast predicts rain tomorrow and if that’s the case we’ve just missed out on the top 10, so we must see what the conditions are when we wake up. I need it to be dry but today was positive and the bike is working well. I’m happy with the consistency of my rhythm and I’ve got decent speed on a couple of the tyre options, so I’m confident of making the top 10 if we get a break with the weather for FP3 and it stays dry.”
Tito Rabat: 21st – 1’35.185
“It was a very difficult day today. It was quite cool this morning and there were a few spots of rain this afternoon and I really didn’t have a good feeling on the bike. I couldn’t push with confidence on the front like I have been able to do in the last races and that has been my main issue. We will work hard to try and find a solution for tomorrow because it is clear we have a big margin to improve.”
Diego Gubellini: Tito Rabat Chief Engineer
“Tito has been struggling all day to find a good feeling from the front, and that is crucial here in Assen when you have so many fast changes of direction. He’s missing some confidence with the bike and we will need to modify the front-end settings for tomorrow to make him more comfortable and faster going into the corner. We still also need to decide the best option for the front tyre. The soft is very good mid-corner but not stable on braking, and it is the opposite with the medium, so we have to find a good compromise.”