Rapid Rabat blitzes Phillip Island tyre test
Tito Rabat smashed the Moto2 lap record by almost half a second, to end the Phillip Island tyre test at the top of the timesheet. The 24-year-old Spaniard was quickest on day one, but his time of 1'32.168 on day two was the fastest ever recorded by a Moto2 bike at Phillip Island.
But it wasn't just his Moto2 rivals who had their eye on Rabat; the Marc VDS rider was also quicker than all but two of the MotoGP riders through sector two on the first two days of the test.
Only a crash at turn two late in the afternoon on the final day marred Rabat's Phillip Island test. While his Kalex Moto2 machine was badly damaged, Rabat himself walked away from the crash with minor grazes on his lower back.
Mika Kallio ended the three-day test second on the Moto2 timesheet, despite crashing heavily at Siberia late on Monday afternoon. The 31-year-old Finn was lucky to walk away with only a bruised left wrist, but the injury hampered his efforts to close the half-second gap to his teammate over the remaining two days.
Rabat and Kallio completed an extensive test programme for Dunlop at Phillip Island, including race simulations in both the hot conditions of day two and the cooler conditions of day three. The two Marc VDS riders declared themselves happy with both the performance and endurance of the tyres supplied by Dunlop at the test.
Tito Rabat // 1'32.168 // 241 Laps
“I'm really happy with how the test has gone overall. We came here to test tyres, but we've also managed to confirm a lot of things on the bike, as well as improving the suspension set up, the operation of the shifter and many other things. The first two days were good, with the lap time improving with each exit, but I'm a little bit disappointed that a crash during my race simulation ended today's testing early. I was chasing a 1'31s lap today, but the crash caused so much damage to the bike that it wasn't possible to continue. Luckily, I walked away with just grazes, but I'm sorry for my mechanics, who now have a lot of work to do to rebuild the bike.”
Mika Kallio // 1'32.698 // 202 Laps
“Alongside the tyre testing for Dunlop we wanted to work more on our base set up here at Philip Island. Last year the changes we had to make at different circuits were too big, so we've been working towards a more balanced base set up on the bike. So far it's worked at Valencia, Jerez and now Phillip Island, three very different circuits, so we're definitely going in the right direction. Some of the tyres Dunlop brought to this test were too stiff in the construction for my riding style, but the two we used for the race simulations today were good. Now it will be up to Dunlop to decide which tyres they bring for the race, not an easy choice given the difference in conditions on the second and third days. Hopefully at least one of my preferred tyres will be included in the race selection.”
Pete Benson // Chief Mechanic, Tito Rabat
“The focus of the test has been on tyre testing for Dunlop, but we've also managed to do a couple of other little things with the suspension and the quick shifter, to try and make it a little smoother, which have both been quite positive. Tito has just been completely focussed the whole three days. Lapping on or under lap record pace, lap after lap, just seems quite effortless to him at the moment. It's been a good test for us and, I hope, it's been equally productive for Dunlop.”