Season best qualifying for Rabat at sunny Spielberg
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat scored a season-best qualifying position to claim 18th on the grid for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix.
Benefitting from the recent two-day test session at the 4.31km Spielberg circuit Rabat sliced four seconds from his opening FP1 time.
Conditions for qualifying were dramatically warmer than for Friday's chilly opening FP1 session with track temperatures up by a massive 24 degrees under sunny and clear skies.
This enabled Rabat to take full advantage of his increasing front-confidence in his rookie season aboard the Honda RC213V and target a solid haul of points in the 28-lap race.
For Rabat's teammate Jack Miller qualifying was a missed opportunity to move through into Q1 and have a crack at a top 12 grid spot.
In his best physical condition of the season Miller had been 11th fastest in the FP4 session but then suffered the setback of a spectacular crash on his first qualifying run.
Forced to switch to his spare bike Miller's time of 1'24.852 was only good enough for 20th on the last row of the grid.
With tyres set to play a crucial role in the race outcome the 21-year-old Australian is confident that he can mount a late race surge to finish in the points.
Tito Rabat: 18th – 1'26.665
“In general I am a little disappointed even though I got my best qualifying position of the season so far. I always want more but this is a good confidence boost for me. My target now is to believe in myself and do my own race and score some good points and continue to learn more about MotoGP. Today with the team we made a good step forward and it is important to do this to be closer to the front.”
Jack Miller: 20th – 1'24.852
“The first sector was good but I threw it away at turn four. I lost the front on entry and then the rear went around, got some grip and threw me to the moon with a highside. I was really lucky to walk away from that one and then get back out for a qualifying lap. My second bike had 17 laps on the front tyre so that wasn't ideal for a fast time. But I'm feeling good about the race, I think I have the pace to be coming on strong at the end.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It was shame Jack crashed on his first tyre, he then only had one new tyre to do a qualifying lap. This made it difficult for him to get a good starting position. What I wanted to see from Tito was for him to improve his lap times from test here and he did this, I am a happy for this. We can see the improvement in Tito and even though there is a long way to go he is heading in the right direction.”