Rabat extends championship lead with podium finish in Japan
Motegi, Japan – 12 October 2014: Tito Rabat extended his championship lead to 38 points over his Marc VDS teammate Mika Kallio, with a hard fought third place in the Japanese Moto2 Grand Prix at Motegi. Kallio was strong at the start of the race but a loss of rear grip saw him drop back to finish fifth.
The two Marc VDS riders were involved in a titanic battle with Johan Zarco and Maverick Viñales for third place in the opening stages of today’s race, which allowed eventual race winner Tom Lüthi to build up an unassailable lead at the front.
Rabat managed to battle his way through into third, as rear grip problems saw Kallio unable to match the pace of this teammate, with the Finn eventually dropping back to be caught and passed by Zarco for fourth at two-thirds race distance.
Rabat set his fastest laps of the race as he tried to chase down Viñales for second, but his compatriot had too much in hand today and the Marc VDS rider was forced to settle for third and the increasingly important championship points at the chequered flag.
Jorge Navarro’s race was ended prematurely when Jakub Kornfeil crashed in front of him and the 18-year-old Spaniard hit the Czech rider’s bike in the tunnel. It was a bitterly disappointed Navarro who returned uninjured to the Marc VDS pit box, as he was battling in the group contesting ninth position when he was brought down.
Tito Rabat // 3rd
“Today was a little bit difficult for me. My start wasn’t so good and the first lap was a bit of a disaster. Afterwards I was putting in some good lap times and, when I got through into third, I tried to follow Viñales, but without taking too many risks. But this was impossible; I started to enter into the corners so early, tried to brake so late and was a little bit slow exiting the corners. This sometimes happens when you have the pressure of the championship. At the end, I’m happy because I rode an intelligent race to get onto the podium, but I’m not happy about the last part of the race. We will go to Australia now and we will start there like we did here on Friday.”
Mika Kallio // 5th
“I’ve not much to say really. The same thing happened today as in the last few races, where seven or eight laps into the race I could feel I was losing rear grip and accelerating out of the turns wasn’t so easy. Step by step it got worse, as did the lap time, which meant I couldn’t stay with the group. With a full tank I felt really good on the brakes and could attack in the first laps, but when the bike gets lighter then it starts to get complicated. It’s strange that we’ve had this problem only in the last few races when we were winning before that. We need to think about what we can do, because we need to finish the season as strongly as we started it.”
Jorge Navarro // DNF
“I got a good start and managed to push through on the inside at the first corner, which put me in a good group battling for a top ten position. Unfortunately, on lap ten, Kornfeil went out wide on the brakes at the end of the downhill straight, got on the gas too early to compensate and went flying. His bike was right in front of me and I couldn’t avoid it. I am very disappointed because the team have worked hard all weekend and I was doing a good race. Now we will have to wait until Australia to do the best result possible.”
Michael Bartholemy // Team Principal
“Both Tito and Mika pushed as hard as ever today, but there was just no answer to Lüthi and Viñales, who were both strong here at Motegi. I know Tito will be a little disappointed not to have won from pole position, but he leaves Japan with an even bigger lead in the championship and that will be some consolation. The rear grip problem that Mika has had the last few races is something for which we need to find a solution, and fast. That will be our focus in Australia next weekend. Jorge was unlucky today. He was riding a good race and battling for a top ten finish, only for him to fall victim to another rider’s crash.”