Solid start for Marc VDS on opening day at Mugello
Scott Redding and Mika Kallio made a steady start on the opening day at Mugello, as unseasonable weather at the Italian circuit made for tricky conditions in both free practice sessions.
Overnight rain meant that the opening practice session was held in less than ideal conditions, with damp patches and a low track temperature dictating a cautious approach on slick tyres. Despite sometimes unpredictable grip levels, Redding ended the session fourth fastest and Kallio finished 12th.
Conditions were much improved for this afternoon’s second free practice, despite the black clouds surrounding the Mugello circuit. Redding built his pace throughout the 45-minute session, as he worked to improve front-end feel on the bike, eventually finishing seventh fastest on combined times.
For Kallio the improvement in conditions didn’t bring the expected improvement in lap times, as the increase in grip levels led to instability when trail braking into the corners. The 30-year-old Finn eventually finished in 19th, a position he is determined to improve upon in tomorrow’s final free practice session.
With the Moto3 class first out for free practice this morning Livio Loi had to contend with a damp track after overnight rain at Mugello. The 16-year-old Belgian used the 45-minute session to familiarise himself with the Mugello track, eventually finishing 14th.
Conditions improved significantly for the second free practice session, with the Moto3 riders able to run slicks for the first time. Loi was disappointed to end the session only 24th on the timesheet, after struggling with the bike on both corner entry and exit.
Scott Redding #45: 7th – 1'54.077
“This morning was a bit sketchy; there were damp patches on the track that were difficult to see, but as long as you stuck to the completely dry line it was okay. This afternoon conditions were better, with more grip available, but that caused us some problems with the front. This track is different compared to the others we’ve raced at so far this season, so we knew we’d have some work to do to rediscover the same feeling with the bike. We lost time because of the weather this morning, but we made some improvements this afternoon and I’m sure there is more to come tomorrow.”
Mika Kallio #36: 19th – 1'54.900
“To be honest, I’m not quite sure what happened with the bike this afternoon. From the first lap I had problems with the front on corner entry, with the bike sitting up as soon as I turned in. I have never felt anything like it before and it was impossible to control the bike while trail braking into the turn. We made some changes to reduce the amount of grip at the rear, which improved things a little, but we need to find a lot more. Tonight we need to sit down and come up with a set-up to improve the bike on corner entry, without losing too much of the rear grip that’s giving me good drive out of the turns, especially up through Arrabbiata one and two.”
Livio Loi #11: 24th – 2'02.088
“The bike was fine in the mixed conditions we had for this morning’s free practice session, but then we hit problems in the dry conditions this afternoon. The bike didn’t want to turn in at all, with the front threatening to close on me when I tried to force the bike into the corner. The corner exit was little better, with the bike picking up and running wide as soon as I got on the gas. It was a similar problem to that which we had in Le Mans, but much worse and I had to fight the bike everywhere. We have looked at the data already and it is clear what we need to do to significantly improve the bike, so we’ve already put today behind us and now we’re focussed on tomorrow’s practice and qualifying sessions.”