Rabat dominates on opening day at the Island
Phillip Island, Australia – 17 October: Tito Rabat set the pace on the opening day in Australia, topping the timesheets in both free practice sessions at Phillip Island to finish more than half a second quicker than his rivals.
It was a perfect start to a weekend when, for the first time this season, Rabat can wrap up the championship that he’s led since the opening round in Qatar more than six months ago. The 25-year-old Spaniard needs to score just 12 more points than teammate Mika Kallio if he is to be crowned as the 2014 Moto2 World Champion this weekend.
In comparison Kallio had a difficult first day down under, as he struggled once again to find the feeling with the front that is so important at the ultra-fast Phillip Island circuit. The 31-year-old Finn crashed and somersaulted over the tyre wall at turn nine without injury this morning, but bruised his ankle after going over the highside at turn 10 this afternoon. Despite the crashes Kallio ended the day fifth with his lap time from the first free practice session.
Racing at yet another new track for the first time this weekend, the Marc VDS Racing Team’s Moto3 rider, Jorge Navarro, finished the opening day 29th on combined times, after improving his best lap time in FP1 by almost half a second this afternoon.
Tito Rabat // 1st // 1’33.057
“We made a really good job today, but we won’t be resting on our laurels, because we were fast on both practice days in Japan and then lost out in the race. So, while everything is working well at the moment, we need to carry on working to find improvements ready for the race on Sunday. There were a lot of crashes today and when you see people crash in front of you then you always close a little. The track conditions are different to when we were here for the winter test and we need to take that into account when we set up the bike for tomorrow. So, a good first day, but we still have work to do.”
Mika Kallio // 5th / 1’33.759
“Even if I ended the morning session in third, today hasn’t been good. The last few races have been difficult because the bike feels different to how it did earlier in the year, and the same was true today. Something isn’t right, because the feeling isn’t even consistent; it changed today from morning to afternoon. We will switch to a new frame for tomorrow, as we’ve changed everything else without any improvement. The rear grip is also an issue here, as there is none. This afternoon I was on my second lap when I crashed, after the rear let go with no warning. The tyres just aren’t working in these conditions, which is why there were so many crashes today. It’s frustrating, but we need to work to find a solution for tomorrow.”
Jorge Navarro // 29th // 1’38.850
“Phillip Island is a very fast track and it was very difficult to figure out at first. You need to take the correct line in every corner, otherwise you lose a lot of time on a lap, but that will come with more circuit knowledge. The feeling with the bike wasn’t so good today, but we know in which direction we need to go in tomorrow, so I’m confident we can make another step forward. Turn one here is special and very, very fast. It’s difficult, yes, but also enjoyable.”