Redding stars in stunning Texas debut
Marc VDS Racing Team rider Scott Redding made a stunning debut at the spectacular new Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Texas today, the British rider dominating practice to lead the 32-strong Moto2 field by almost four-tenths-of-a-second.
Finnish teammate Mika Kallio also enjoyed a positive start to the Grand Prix of the Americas by lapping inside the top six on the long, technical and physically demanding COTA track.
Cold and windy conditions for FP1 left Redding down in 23rd position, the 20-year-old adopting a risk free strategy on a slippery surface. Rather than pushing for an outright lap time he preferred to try and learn the COTA track, which features jaw-dropping undulation, including a climb of over 130ft from the grid to the first corner, and a super fast straight that’s the longest on the 17-race schedule.
With improved grip levels and higher temperatures for the afternoon session, Redding’s patient approach paid off and he continued the form that took him to second in the season’s opening race in Qatar by powering his Kalex machine to best time of 2.12.481. That pace comfortably put him at the top of the timesheets by 0.383s.
Redding was a massive 6.4s faster in FP2 while Kallio was close to five seconds faster as he too impressively adapted to the long and technical layout. A best lap of 2.13.140 rocketed him 12 places up the rankings while he assessed rear tyre performance and endurance ahead of Sunday’s 19-lap race.
Scott Redding #45: 1st – 2’12.481
“I’m really happy to be fastest on the first day but I don’t think this track is actually as good to ride as it looks. I was a bit disappointed because a lot of it is taken in first gear but it is still good fun. This morning wasn’t great at all. I had no feeling and no grip and I wasn’t pushing at all and the front would tuck while braking straight up and down. You rarely get that even in the rain, so it shows how bad it was. It makes no sense to risk a silly crash in those conditions so I was just trying to learn the track. This afternoon the track was transformed. The grip wasn’t great but it was a lot better than FP1. At least this afternoon I could get in a good rhythm and the most important thing is being consistent and building on the momentum gained in Qatar. I was quickest by a decent margin and that’s a great way to start the weekend, so I’m happy and hoping it continues.”
Mika Kallio #36: 6th – 2’13.140
“This is a really special track and with grip this afternoon it is really funny to ride. I think it is one of the most difficult tracks I have ever ridden on but great because it really challenges you to understand how to go fast. It is difficult to learn being so long and you can’t make many laps in a 45-minute session. The layout is incredible with a lot of undulation, fast changes of direction and hard braking and acceleration. This morning it was really difficult because there was zero grip and I struggled a lot. I didn’t think I was going to like the track but with higher temperatures in the afternoon it was a completely opposite feeling. I had a good feeling on the bike and the tyres were working really well with a lot more temperature compared to this morning. My pace is not too bad and this afternoon I was testing the rear tyre for the race. Both compounds are wearing very fast so we will need to think really carefully about tyre choice for the race.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Today was a fantastic start for us because after this morning’s session I was a little worried. It was strange to see Scott outside of the top 20 and he said the conditions were so bad this morning it was worse than riding in the wet on slick tyres. I think Scott suffered more this morning because he is so aggressive. He is always late on the brakes but even the front tyre was sliding this morning on the brakes. But he stayed very calm and when the conditions were better he capitalised. With more grip available he really showed his full potential and it is good to be fastest to show he can be there and put some pressure on his rivals for the championship. Mika also did a great job to be in the top six and if we can continue the strong performance of today then it promises to be a very successful first visit to Texas for the Marc VDS Racing Team.”