Rabat and Kallio make strong start in Texas
Austin, Texas – 11 April 2014: World Championship leader Tito Rabat and Marc VDS Racing teammate Mike Kallio made a positive start to Moto2 practice at the state-of-the-art Circuit of the Americas today.
Spaniard Rabat was third quickest in both 45-minute practice sessions, the opening round winner in Qatar finishing just over 0.3s off Johann Zarco's best pace.
Rabat focussed on refining the race set-up of his Kalex machine and his best pace of 2.11.147 was almost 0.6s under Nico Terol’s 2013 lap record.
Positive work on worn tyres saw Kallio leap from 12th in FP1 to sixth this afternoon, the Finnish rider pleased to shave off close to 1.5s in the second session.
The most pleasing aspect of Kallio’s fast start was his best lap came on a rear tyre that he’d already completed well over race distance on, and but for a small gearbox issue on his fastest lap, Kallio is confident he could have finished behind Rabat in fourth position.
Livio Loi’s time on track was dedicated to learning the long and technical COTA venue, with the teenage Belgian not eligible to compete in the inaugural Texas event one year ago.
Loi made major progress in this afternoon’s FP2 session, cutting an impressive 2.2s off his morning practice pace, and he is confident improvements to the turning performance of his Kalex KTM machine will enable him to post more competitive times in preparation for Sunday’s 18-lap Moto 3 race.
Tito Rabat // 3rd // 2’11.147
“I am very happy with today because I was inside the top three in both sessions. We made a very good job with the team and we tried many different settings on the bike and already I am optimistic we have found a good base for the race. We still need to work in some areas, particularly the slower sections, to improve tomorrow. But I really like this track and I am sure if we can continue the good work of today we can battling for the victory again like in Qatar.”
Mika Kallio // 6th // 2’11.329
“This morning was strange because we know this track is very complicated and I found it difficult to get into a rhythm. The bike wouldn’t do what I wanted but for this afternoon we made a very big step and I am satisfied. My best time was set on the softer rear tyre that had done 25 laps because I used it at the end of FP1 and for the whole of FP2. We need to save the soft tyres though for qualifying and the race because to be honest the hard option is too hard and impossible for me to use. On my last lap second gear jumped out in one corner and put me into neutral, and that cost me 0.2s, so without that I’d be higher up the rankings and that means I can relax for tomorrow.”
Livio Loi // 26th // 2’20.067
“It is a very difficult track to learn and completely different to other tracks I’ve raced at. There is definitely a secret to going fast here but I need more time to learn all the tricks. It is a very long track too, so you can’t make a lot of laps. This morning was all about learning the track and this afternoon I made a big improvement by over two seconds but still I am too far away. I don’t feel so good on the bike and I can’t turn into the corner and hit the apex. Hopefully tomorrow I can make another big step and improve my position.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Today was a strong start to the weekend because we know this is a very complicated track to find a good set-up. There are many fast parts but also four corners taken in first gear, so to find a compromise with the bike is not easy. We saw last year the Suter bike was strong with Terol and again today the Suter was first and second, so it seems this track where our advantage is the not the same as other tracks. Tito was very close to the best time and Mika did a lot of laps of the same tyre to check the endurance for the race, which was a concern last year. For Livio it has not been easy. He walked the track for two laps yesterday and I think he thought it was going to be easier. Experience is crucial at this track so he needs more time and I think by the race he will show his potential.”