Miller flies to fastest time in France practice
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller brilliantly topped the timesheets on an opening day of MotoGP action at the legendary Le Mans track that was completely dominated by constantly changing weather conditions.
The Australian was in untouchable form on a damp but fast drying track this morning, setting an incredibly hot pace that at times left him with a commanding advantage of over three seconds.
With new asphalt recently laid on the historic 4.18km Bugatti Circuit, the improved smooth surface also offered exceptional grip levels in mixed conditions, and Miller’s strategy to switch to slick Michelin tyres in the closing stages of FP1 was calculated to perfection.
A stunning late charge of 1’37.467 secured Miller a deserved top spot, with the 2014 Moto3 winner at Le Mans finishing over 1.2s clear of Marc Marquez.
Torrential rain during the lunch break soaked the track again in advance of FP2, but Miller was once again a leading protagonist throughout the second 45-minute session.
A recent wet weather tyre test that Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS were happy to participate in at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia had enabled Miller and his crew to fine-tune the rain set-up on his Honda RC213V machine.
And that extra wet track time proved crucial, as he ended FP2 in seventh place, having opted to run the entire session on the same Michelin wet tyres in an impressively fast stint that saw him complete just four laps short of full race distance on the same rubber.
Tito Rabat was satisfied with his pace throughout the first day, and 18th position on the combined standings was certainly not an accurate representation of his pace.
On wet tyres in FP1, he was only one second behind Miller, but he drifted out of top 10 contention as he opted not to switch to slick tyres in the decisive final minutes. A small issue with his leather suit also hampered his progress this afternoon, but that can easily be rectified ahead of tomorrow’s action.
Jack Miller: 1st – 1’37.467
“I am really happy to finish the first day here in Le Mans on top of the timesheets. It was the perfect way to bounce back from the disappointment of Jerez and I’m happy because I was fast in all different kinds of conditions. This afternoon was another positive session after the boost of setting the fastest time in FP1. I used the same set of tyres throughout the whole of FP2 and did 24 laps on the Michelin wets and had good pace throughout. The tread did get a little bit low and I was aquaplaning a bit in the fast corners, so I decided to end the session a bit early. I’m sure I could have gone faster on a fresh set of rain tyres like some of the others did but didn’t really feel the need after I got that banker lap in this morning.”
Tito Rabat: 18th – 1’42.094
“I was happy at the end of this morning’s session because I had a very good feeling in the wet. I didn’t switch to a slick tyre at the end of FP1, so we didn’t show our full potential this morning. At the start of FP2 I didn’t feel all that confident and comfortable but on the second run I was much happier with my rhythm. I had a very small issue with my leathers that prevented me from being completely comfortable on the bike this afternoon, but we will make the necessary modifications to solve that ahead of tomorrow.”
Ramon Aurin: Jack Miller Chief Engineer
“Today was very positive and it wasn’t a surprise to see Jack fastest this morning because he is very strong and fast in mixed conditions. He was the first to switch to slicks and once he got the right temperature into the tyres he could set an impressive pace, even though we know it was far away from the times we can expect to see. It is the same conditions for everybody though and it is always a good boost to be fastest. We didn’t change tyres in the rain this afternoon and had we done so I’m sure he could have improved. We did a wet weather test for Michelin in Valencia last week and that helped a little to work on our settings for these conditions.”