Miller secures crucial top 10 in Germany practice
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller closed out the opening day of practice at Germany’s tight and twisty Sachsenring track with a potentially crucial top 10 position on the combined leader board.
With heavy rain badly disrupting FP2 and more wet weather predicated for tomorrow, Miller’s charge to ninth on the newly resurfaced Sachsenring in dry but cool conditions this morning could have already clinched the Australian one of the all-important top 10 places required to advance straight into Q2.
Miller finished less than 0.5s off the best pace in FP1 on a busy opening day in Germany, with the field given an extra 20 minutes on track today to assess the new surface. Both practice sessions were extended by 10 minutes to provide crucial feedback to Michelin on grip levels and tyre endurance, with an extra medium front and an additional hard rear compound added to the standard allocation for the weekend.
Constantly changing conditions in FP2, which was punctuated by spells of heavy rain, glorious sunshine and strong winds prevented any additional testing of the increased slick tyre allocation. But Miller was still impressively fast using a full wet weather configuration on his Honda RC213V machine and rain or shine tomorrow he is expecting to compete for a top 10 grid position ahead of Sunday’s 30-lap showdown.
The cool but dry conditions this morning meant Spaniard Tito Rabat preferred to gradually build up his rhythm while he got accustomed to the different performance of Sachsenring’s new asphalt.
In an incredibly tight FP1, he finished just over a second off the best pace set by World Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso. The rapidly changing weather didn’t help Rabat establish a consistent pace in FP2, but he was happy with progress made and more confident on a fully wet surface than he was last weekend in Assen.
Jack Miller: 9th – 1’22.068
“This afternoon was not the easiest session and I was out when the track was at its wettest. Each time a dry line started to appear I didn’t want to take any big risks. At the time I came in when the track was drying and improving, I was one of the fastest out there, so I know my potential in wet conditions. I had a good feeling in the wet and it wasn’t worth concentrating too much on playing with the set-up for the bike when the track is half wet and half dry. I’m happy in full wet conditions but if I could improve in one area it would be to have a little bit better turning. We made some steps forward in that area but I still feel like we can make even more progress. All we can do now is wait and see what the weather will do tomorrow. With rain predicted for FP3, it was very important to get into the top 10 this morning because this morning’s session could decide Q1. I wanted to be in that top 10 and managed that, so we accomplished one of today’s big goals. There are some big names that didn’t make it into the top 10, so it could be quite difficult to come out of Q1 if it’s wet in the morning.”
Tito Rabat: 20th – 1’22.745
“This morning was quite difficult because the track was dry but it was very cold and complicated to understand the performance of the new asphalt. You must be careful, particularly at turn 11, so I left some margin in FP1 rather than pushing over the limit. This afternoon the rain made it difficult to find any kind of rhythm but I felt like I did a good job and was more comfortable on the bike in the wet than in Assen last weekend.”
Ramon Aurin: Jack Miller Chief Engineer
“The rain this afternoon meant we had to change the plan. We wanted to run the hardest slick for Michelin to give them some information but just when we were about to go out and assess it the rain came. The new asphalt means we have had to change the set-up compared to last year by quite a lot but I think Jack was looking very strong in full wet conditions. He stopped when the track was drying out because he could already feel the rear tyre was overheating as the conditions improved, so we definitely didn't show our full potential in those mixed conditions at the end of the session. The big positive today is that Jack made it into the top 10 in FP1, which could be crucial for qualifying if FP3 tomorrow morning is wet as we expect.”