Rabat and Kallio chasing grip in Argentina
Termas de Rio Hondo, Argentina – 25 April 2014: Marc VDS Racing Team riders Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio finished inside the top 10 at the end of an opening day of practice spent searching for grip on a dirty and slippery surface at the fast and flowing new Circuito Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina.
World Championship leader Rabat was sixth fastest, the Spaniard dedicating his entire time on track in overcast conditions to improving grip and tyre endurance with his Kalex machine.
A lap of 1.45.394 was just over 0.3s away from the quickest pace, with the top 20 riders split by less than a second in a typically fierce Moto2 battle.
Mika Kallio eventually enjoyed a positive start to a milestone weekend in his Grand Prix career. The Finn was 33rd in FP1 but major set-up modifications rocketed him back into the top 10 ahead of what is scheduled to be his 200th start, making him the first Finnish rider to reach the landmark.
Livio Loi, who will celebrate his 17th birthday on race day, made an excellent debut at the 4.086km/2.986 mile track, the Belgian rider running close to the top three for the majority of FP2.
He eventually finished in an encouraging 14th and is confident he can battle for a career first top 10 finish in Sunday’s 21-lap Moto3 race.
Tito Rabat // 6th //1’45.394
“Today was very difficult and we had many problems with grip because the track is very dirty, especially this morning when it was very bad. In the afternoon the track improved a lot and I could go almost 1.6s faster but I still need to improve the setting of the bike tomorrow to get more grip. This morning we had problems with the rear and in FP2 it was more the front causing me some trouble, so we have to work to find a good balance.”
Mika Kallio // 9th //1’45.419
“This morning was a complete disaster and a horrible start to the weekend. The rear linkage I prefer is different to what most of the other riders use, and we know it doesn’t work at some tracks when the grip is low. We decided to start with the same package I raced in Qatar and Austin but we saw immediately I was so slow and I destroyed the tyres in the first three laps. We changed the linkage and immediately in FP2 the bike felt completely different and I was much faster. I am happy with the feeling now and it is good to be back in the top 10. The challenge now is to adapt the bike to work as the track gets cleaner and more grip is on the surface.”
Livio Loi // 14th // 1’52.010
“The track is interesting with some very fast and flowing parts on a Moto3 bike, but as expected this morning the surface was quite dirty and the grip low. I was fourth for a long time in FP2 after a really strong first exit that was close to perfect. I came in to change tyres but I had too much movement on the front on braking into the corners and couldn’t improve my lap time and lost a few places. The grip is going to improve a lot and after equalling my best result in Texas I am going to go for it and try and secure a top 10.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“We are satisfied to see both Tito and Mika inside the top 10 because it has not been an easy first day here in Argentina. The track layout is fantastic but it is not easy to find grip and the tyre performance drops quite a bit after a few laps. Tito was still quite strong in both sessions but this morning Mika was really struggling and his crew drastically changed his set-up and he was able to be back inside the top 10 and his improve his pace by over four seconds. The times are very tight and the work we do tomorrow will be important for the race because it looks like the riders that can manage the tyres the best will be the strongest. Livio also did a good job because for a long time in FP2 he was in fourth position. Today was the first time we gave him new tyres at the end of practice to try and help him achieve better laps in the end of the sessions. It was new for him and I am sure in the future it will be a good strategy to help him also be ready for qualifying.”