Miller vies for top 10 in Valencia practice
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller put up a strong challenge for the top 10 at the end of a close opening day of practice for the final MotoGP encounter of 2016 at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia.
The Australian grew in confidence throughout the first 45-minute session, which took place in chilly conditions of just 14 degrees, despite the 4km Valencia venue being swathed in glorious autumnal sunshine.
Miller was able to set a personal best time of 1’32’155 which comfortably placed him inside the top 10 in eighth, as his Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS crew diligently worked through the process of evaluating four different spec Michelin front tyres that included two that the French manufacturer plan to use as part of its 2017 allocation.
Clear blue skies were a welcome sight again for FP2, and with track temperature up 15 degrees, the improved grip levels enabled Miller to improve his pace to a 1’31’754.
That placed the 21-year-old in 14th position on combined standings but Miller can take great heart from his first day showing in Spain, with his quickest time just over 0.5s away from the top five.
Tito Rabat was extremely satisfied with his performance in FP1 this morning when he finished in a morale-boosting 15th place. He was only 0.3s away from the top 10 and close to fellow Honda men Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow.
But any momentum gained was surrendered this afternoon when he struggled to make progress in the hotter conditions and he dropped six places down the leaderboard.
Jack Miller: 14th – 1’31’754
“I was pretty happy with my performance in FP1 this morning and I was able to put in a decent lap time on a new rear tyre. Only a handful of us used fresh rubber at the end of the session but this afternoon everybody ran new tyres and the pace got faster. I improved my lap time compared to this morning, so I feel like we made a step. I used the hard tyres for most of the second session to concentrate on set-up for the race and it didn’t feel too bad. We are not too far away from where we want to be and I am sure we can improve tomorrow.”
Tito Rabat: 21st – 1’32’646
“I was very happy in FP1 this morning because I started with good energy and I had a good feeling with the bike. But this afternoon we went in the wrong direction in the hotter conditions. We tried to work with the hard front tyre but I never felt comfortable. I tried my best to and gave my maximum effort but I never had the same feeling this afternoon that allowed me to push at my limit.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It was not a bad start to the final race for Jack. He put together good laps in both sessions and we can already be optimistic at the end of the first day that he will be competitive enough to fight for the top 10 on Sunday. I was satisfied with Tito’s performance this morning because we were close to the other guys on Honda machinery apart from Marc Márquez. But this afternoon he encountered some issues and the gap to the front was a little bit too big again. I know he will work hard with his crew overnight to analyse the issues and hopefully he can improve a lot tomorrow.”