Rabat and Kallio ready for podium challenge in Le Mans
Le Mans, France – 17 May 2014: Marc VDS Racing Team riders Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio put up a tremendous fight for pole position in an incredibly close Moto2 qualifying battle at the historic Le Mans circuit this afternoon.
Spaniard Rabat led the practice timesheets and he missed out on securing a fourth pole in five races by just 0.004s. The World Championship leader suffered a small crash in hot conditions during qualifying, but he remains confident he can fight for his third victory of 2014.
A second successive pole position eluded Kallio by just 0.149s, the Finn qualifying in an excellent fourth to boost his hopes of another maximum points haul after a dominant start-to-finish triumph in Jerez.
A lack of front-end confidence has hindered Livio Loi’s progress in France and he will start the Moto3 race from 25th position on the grid.
Tito Rabat // 2nd // 1’37.623
“That was quite an eventful qualifying. I had a crash but still managed to get on the front row and I only missed out on another pole by the tiniest of margins. In the first part of the session I made a very good lap time and my rhythm was also very strong, so that was important before the mistake. I released the front brake too early in the crash, but I am still very confident for the race tomorrow. A good start will be vital because as always, the lap times are very close.”
Mika Kallio // 4th // 1’37.768
“I am very happy because after a difficult weekend, I got my confidence back on the bike this afternoon like in Jerez, so thanks to my crew chief Naoya Kaneko, who gave me a great bike. Before qualifying I was struggling in the braking zone with front feeling, and that is crucial at Le Mans. The set-up changes allowed me to push to the limit and my lap time was very constant. I might have had another pole position but I had a big slide from the rear exiting the final corner on one of my best laps and that cost me some vital time. But I am confident for the race that I can get another good result. My good point is in the first laps on a full fuel tank when some other riders seem to struggle, so I will push hard immediately like in Jerez.”
Livio Loi // 25th // 1’44.237
“It was a very difficult day and I don’t have the feeling I need with the bike. Qualifying was very hard and all weekend I’ve had no confidence with the front. Each time I try and push I almost lose the front and I have a lot of movement that doesn’t give me any confidence. Hopefully we can find a better set-up in the warm-up to improve because it will be a tough race from my starting position.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It would have been great to keep our 100% pole position record going in 2014, but Tito was so close we can’t be too disappointed. It is a shame he lost some time because of the crash and for his last five laps the rear brake was not working properly, so to be so close to pole again is a great effort. Mika did a great job too because he has been very consistent and found the confidence with the bike like he had in Jerez. I’m sure we can see both of them fighting for the podium tomorrow, which would be great at the home race of our event title sponsor Elf. We can’t be happy with Livio qualifying down in 25tth position. The gap to pole position is far too much and I hope we can give him some more confidence with the front tomorrow to enable him to try and salvage some points.”