Rabat fastest on opening day at Sepang

Rabat fastest on opening day at Sepang

Sepang, Malaysia – 24 October 2014: Tito Rabat posted the fastest time on the opening day at Sepang, lapping quicker than the current lap record during a second free practice that started damp and ended dry. Mika Kallio ended the day sixth on combined times, after initially struggling with set up issues this morning.

Rabat was second this morning, but with this afternoon’s Moto3 session red flagged due to the onset of heavy rain, conditions were very different as the 25-year-old Spaniard rolled out on wet tyres for the start of this afternoon’s second free practice.

While most of the Sepang circuit dried rapidly, damp patches remained between turns five and 12 and it was only in the last 15 minutes of the session that conditions were good enough for Rabat to improve on his lap time from this morning, topping the timesheet in the process.

Once again Kallio suffered with a lack of rear grip on the harder of the two tyre options supplied by Dunlop for the Sepang weekend, finishing the opening practice session down in 16th position. Improvements to set up, together with a switch to the softer option tyre, saw Kallio improve his lap time this afternoon, as he finished the day sixth on combined times.

For Jorge Navarro, Sepang is the third new circuit in as many races but at 16 metres wide, reference points are harder to identify here than they are at narrower tracks. Nevertheless, the 18-year-old Spaniard improved his lap time by almost one second this afternoon, in a free practice session brought to a premature conclusion by the onset of heavy rain, and is confident of further improvement tomorrow.

Tito Rabat // 1st // 2’07.729
 “I’m happy with progress today. We tested tyres, settings and a lot of other things in the different conditions here at Sepang, which is always special. The rain in the afternoon meant that the track was too wet for slicks and too dry for wets at the start of FP2, so we lost some time there, but we managed to get at least some fully dry running towards the end. Like always, we need to continue working towards the race on Sunday, because that is what is important.”

Mika Kallio // 6th // 2’08.440
“This morning we ran the harder of the two tyre options with predictable results. Like in previous races I just didn’t have any grip with the hard tyre, but we decided to stick with it to save some of the soft tyres we’ve been allocated, although they’re not really soft, more slightly less hard than the hard option. In the afternoon we set up the bike differently to improve the rear grip, but then we lost a lot of the session to the weather, as the track was still damp in places. In the last 15 minutes the conditions were better and we saw that there was an improvement with the bike, with improved rear grip and better balance. Even so, we need to make further changes, because I didn’t feel relaxed on the bike and it was difficult to feel where the limit was. That’s why we ended seven tenths off Tito’s time and why we need to make more improvements tomorrow.” 

Jorge Navarro // 21st // 2’15.618
“Sepang is another new circuit for me, and it’s been a bit difficult today. The track is so wide, wider than any track I’ve raced at before, and this makes it difficult to identify reference points when you’re riding alone. But, on the positive side, we’ve made progress and I improved my lap time by almost a second this afternoon. Tomorrow we will make some changes to the bike ahead of the final free practice session and I’m confident I can continue to improve.”