Redding and Kallio play it safe in difficult conditions at Aragon
Scott Redding and Mika Kallio both played it safe in the difficult conditions experienced during the opening day of practice ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix of Aragon. Redding ended the day 14th fastest, while Kallio was 17th despite a minor crash late in the second free practice session.
At a circuit usually known for high temperatures, the weather for this morning's first free practice session was decidedly damp after overnight rain. After starting the session on a wet but drying track, the riders were glad to see the return of the rain and made the most of a fully wet track to work on wet set-up.
With the rain continuing throughout the afternoon, both Redding and Kallio continued to refine wet set-up on their Kalex Moto2 machines during the second 45-minute free practice session.
Redding, who underwent a carpal tunnel decompression operation on his right wrist immediately after the last race in Misano, also used the two sessions today to test his wrist on the bike for the first time. The 19-year-old Briton was happy with the range of movement in the wrist and was surprised that it was less painful than expected, especially under braking.
Kallio lost a large part of the first free practice to a rear grip issue, with the second rear tyre used during the 45-minute session offering zero grip in the now fully wet conditions. The 29-year-old Finn switched to the previous rear tyre for the start of this afternoon's session and the issue was eliminated, allowing him to continue work on set-up that would have been completed this morning but for the tyre problem.
If the weather forecast predicting more rain for tomorrow's all-important qualifying session proves accurate, the work completed on wet set-up today could prove critical to a good grid position for Sunday's race.
Scott Redding #45: 14th – 2'09.504
“The hand was okay this morning, a lot better than I was expecting. It was a bit more painful this afternoon, mainly because I haven't used it that much since the operation, but still less than I thought it would be. I haven't needed any painkillers today and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to do without them for the rest of the weekend. The aim today was to build up slowly, not take any risks and get a good feel for the bike. I think we've accomplished that. Overall I'm pretty happy with the track and the bike; we do need to find a small improvement in rear grip through the long corners, but we've got a few ideas that we'll try tomorrow if it stays wet. Conditions here weren't what we were expecting, but it's been a pretty positive first day.”
Mika Kallio #36: 17th – 2'09.651
“Today was quite difficult. We lost some time this morning when we had a problem with a rear tyre that offered no grip, but switching back to the original rear sorted out the problem for the second session. The bike felt pretty good, but we were too far off the pace. I felt like I was on the limit, and not able to push any harder, but we were still too far off the pace. We're losing too much time through the faster turns, of which there are a lot here, as we don't seem to have the same amount of rear grip as others. I tried to follow Lüthi late in the session, but the rear came round on me and flicked me over the highside. This is something we need to address, as it looks like qualifying will be wet too, but we have some ideas that we will try in tomorrow morning's final free practice session and I hope this will offer some improvement.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Having surgery between races is always a risk, but we were left with no other option and, I'm pleased to say, it's had less of an impact on Scott today than we anticipated. He took no risks today, but tomorrow he needs to start upping the pace ahead of qualifying. We will have to see if this puts more strain on his wrist, but I'm pretty confident he'll be fine. Mika spent today's two sessions refining the set-up on the bike ready for qualifying tomorrow, as it looks like conditions will be pretty similar to today. He got caught out by the conditions and slid off at the end of the session, but by that time most of his work had been done. Scott and Mika should be able to improve their lap times considerably if it stays wet tomorrow and I would expect both to be looking for a position on the front three rows of the grid in qualifying.”