Rabat returns to the points in Japan with a well executed race strategy
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat finished a morale-boosting 14th in today's Japanese Grand Prix.
Rabat rode a controlled race at the 4.8km Twin Ring Motegi, one of his least favourite venues on the calendar.
The performance was a reward for Rabat's willingness to learn in his rookie season in the premier class and he fully deserved his two championship points.
Starting 18th on the grid Rabat stuck to his plan of riding his Honda RC213V within his limits and it paid handsome dividends five laps from the finish when he moved ahead of factory Honda rider Hiroshi Aoyama to secure fourteenth.
It was a less rewarding day for Rabat's teammate Jack Miller, who returned to MotoGP after being sidelined from recent races with a hand injury.
Miller's day ended early on lap seven of 24 when he lost the front-end and crashed at turn one.
Miller had charged in the opening laps and looked set to challenge for a top ten result in a tight tussle in a group featuring Scott Redding, Danilo Petrucci, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl. But a small braking error and another front-end slide put paid to the Australian rider's chances of completing the race distance as a warm-up for his home race at Phillip Island next weekend.
The Australian GP is the second leg of three consecutive flyaway races.
Tito Rabat: 14th
“I am very happy for this 14th position after scoring zero points at the past two races. I was very focussed this weekend on understanding my limit and finishing the race to learn more about MotoGP and I did this. Two points at Motegi, which is not an easy track for me, is great for the team and now I want to take this feeling to Australia next week and continue to improve.”
Jack Miller: DNF
“I just made a small mistake and braked a little too late and lost the front-end in turn one. I tried to stay on the racing line but I was a little too fast and just tucked the front. I was pushing hard to stay in the group with Scott, Petrucci, Bautista and Bradl and it was shaping up as a nice little battle until I made the mistake and it was all over.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Jack's crash was a little disappointing because I feel he had the potential to challenge for a top ten finish here and it was important for him to finish the race because next weekend is a big one for him at Phillip Island. Jack had some issues at turn one all weekend and that is where he crashed. For Tito this result shows that he is getting closer to being more competitive in MotoGP and the gap to the riders ahead is much less than at the beginning of the season. A good performance by Tito today.”