Top six for rapid Rabat in Barcelona practice
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat was in sensational form at the revised Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya track today to fire his Honda RC213V machine into the top six in practice.
After the surprise intervention of rain prevented any meaningful laps in FP1 this morning, the second 45-minute practice session took on extra importance, with Rabat and teammate Jack Miller eager to make up for the lost dry track time.
Rabat wasted no time in posing a threat for the top 10 in gloriously hot and sunny conditions this afternoon and a very positive opening day of practice was completed in brilliant fashion by the 27-year-old former Moto2 World Champion.
Rabat’s growing confidence after back-to-back 11th place finishes in Le Mans and Mugello was clear for all to see when he delivered an inspired lap of 1’44.933, which placed him in a superb sixth place and left him just over 0.2s away from Jorge Lorenzo in second.
It turned out to be a more complicated opening day to round seven of the World Championship for Australian Miller, who was learning the new 4.6km layout for the first time after missing a recent two-day test session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya through injury.
Miller was involved in a strange moment in FP1 this morning when he inadvertently missed the new turns 14 and 15 section for a few laps and was using a section of sector four that was implemented during last year’s race weekend.
His absence from the test session and the limited dry track time available this morning proved to be a big hurdle for Miller to overcome, with getting his Honda RC213V to absorb the Barcelona track’s notoriously bumpy sections his biggest challenge.
Tito Rabat: 6th – 1’44.933
“I had a good test here a couple of weeks ago and today we have been able to improve my feeling on the bike. I am faster than I was at the test, so it has been a very positive start. Race set-up is going to be crucial for Sunday’s race because the grip is low and the forecasts say it will be very hot, so making the rear tyre last as long as possible will be critical. Keeping a fast pace will not be easy but I think we can be close to the top 10 again.”
Jack Miller: 17th – 1’45.868
“This morning was interesting to say the least. The weather didn’t help the situation much but it didn’t help too when I spent a lot of laps riding on the wrong track! Once I was riding the correct layout it wasn’t easy this afternoon. Missing the test a couple of weeks ago meant I wasn’t sure where the bumps were when you’re riding flat-out in the dry. And we spent most of FP2 playing around with the suspension to absorb the bumps better and get the new front tyre working. The bumps are an issue before the new chicane and being honest I don’t like that new final part of the lap much. It was introduced to improve safety and I fully understand that, but from a pure riding perspective I don’t like it as much as the layout we were using last year. It’s the same for everybody and I feel better on the bike than I did in Mugello, but we’ll see how much we can close the gap tomorrow.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It has been a positive start for Tito and he was battling inside the top 10 throughout the second session. He had a very strong ride in Mugello just five days ago and I’m pleased that he has been able to continue that momentum into this weekend in what is a very important home race for him. Jack is on the back foot a little bit after missing the test but I am confident that he can make up for the lost time. And I can deny any rumours that we have fitted satellite navigation to his bike for the remainder of the weekend after his little mishap this morning!”