Redding and Kallio both on the pace at Motegi
The Marc VDS Racing Team enjoyed a successful opening day at Motegi, with Scott Redding finishing third fastest and Mika Kallio tenth. Both riders were within one second of the fastest lap, set my championship leader Marc Marquez.
Redding was quick from the start, posting the fourth fastest lap during this morning's 45-minute first free practice session. Kallio struggled to find a good feeling on the brakes, critical to a fast lap time at the stop start Motegi circuit, and ended the morning session 13th on the timesheet.
Track conditions improved considerably for this afternoon's second free practice, with Redding taking advantage of the increase in grip to jump to the top of the timesheet at the halfway point in the session, but he was eventually pushed back to third by fast laps from Marquez and fellow Brit Bradley Smith.
Set-up changes to Kallio's Kalex Moto2 machine ahead of the second free practice brought an improvement in the heavy braking areas that are such a feature of the Motegi circuit. The 29-year-old Finn improved significantly on his earlier lap time to move up to tenth on the timesheet, just 0.734s off Marquez's fastest lap.
Both Marc VDS riders are confident of further progress tomorrow, as the track conditions continue to improve and they further refine the set-up of their Kalex Moto2 machines.
Scott Redding #45: 3rd – 1'52.160
“The feeling with the bike was pretty good from the off today. I get some pain from my hand on the brakes, especially at the end of the downhill straight into 90° corner, but it's not a big problem and it's certainly not enough pain to justify painkillers. For tomorrow we need to work a bit on the set-up to allow me to brake a little bit later; today it was pretty good, but I also felt like I was right on the limit. Today has been a good start to the weekend and I'm looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.”
Mika Kallio #36: 10th – 1'52.568
“This morning I was losing a little bit of time at every turn because I didn't have a good feeling with the bike, especially on the brakes. For this afternoon we made a few set-up changes to improve stability under braking and that made a big difference to the lap times. The braking areas are critical here because there are so many places where you're really hard on the brakes. You need to be able to go deep, not just for the lap times but also for overtaking in the race. Unfortunately, we lost a little bit of the turning and also some rear grip, both of which we need to improve for tomorrow, but not at the expense of the braking performance. As always, it's all about compromise with the set-up.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It was a solid opening day for both riders here at Motegi. Scott looked comfortable from the first lap and that was immediately reflected in his lap times. He was third quickest today, but is confident that some small refinements to his set-up tonight will lead to further improvements ahead of qualifying tomorrow. Mika struggled a little this morning, but changes to the bike made a big difference this afternoon and he was less half a second off Scott's time. Like his teammate, Mika is also confident of further improvements tomorrow. If we can continue the progress made today then I think we could see both riders challenging for a front row grid position in tomorrow afternoon's qualifying session.”