Red Bull KTM Ajo have wet start to GP weekend


Miguel Oliveira, Karel Hanika and Brad Binder contest two wet practice sessions which begin Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas.

Oliveira, Moto3, Grand Prix of the Americas, 2015.

The first day of the second World Championship event of the year was a tough one for the Moto3 riders. Heavy rain and a completely wet track in Austin, Texas, forced the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders to go out on cut tyres and ride with caution. Miguel Oliveira placed tenth overall, Karel Hanika twenty-second and Brad Binder twenty-seventh, as the trio tried to get as many kilometres as possible under their belts.

With a delay of 50 minutes due to a lack of marshalls on track, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders went out on a fully wet track for the first session of the weekend. Due to a lack of grip, they preferred not to take excessive risks. Hanika, who has suffered a small crash at Turn 2 with 8 minutes remaining, was the fastest of the trio with a 2:35.937 lap, taking twelfth. Binder was close behind in thirteenth with a 2:36.096, and Oliveira seventeenth with a best of 2:36.757.

In the afternoon, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders needed less than half a session to improve their previous times. However, the track began to dry out and made their task more difficult again. Binder crashed before the halfway mark, as did Hanika in the final 10 minutes. Fortunately, neither suffered any injury. A good last lap allowed Oliveira to climb to tenth place -2:31.070-, while teammates Hanika and Binder had to settle for 22nd -2:32.937- and 27th -2: 34.096-, respectively.

Weather forecasts for the remaining two days of the Grand Prix are for further rain. Tomorrow will see the last free practice session, followed by qualifying at 12:35pm, local time. Last year, Red Bull KTM Ajo took pole position through Jack Miller in Austin.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Alexis Masbou (Honda) 2:29.267
2. Andrea Locatelli (Honda) 2:29.305 +0.038
3. Danny Kent (Honda) 2:29.843 +0.576
4. Efren Vazquez (Honda) 2:30.073 +0.806
5. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 2:30.108 +0.841
10. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:31.070 +1.803
22. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:32.937 +3.670
27. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:34.096 +4.829

Miguel Oliveira,
“This first day has been very hard. The conditions were rather difficult; in the first session there was too much water on the track and it was difficult to get a good grip level because the circuit does not drain very well. However, towards the end of the second session today I felt a little better and I was able to go faster. We want to be up at the top and we’re doing everything we can to improve the setup on the tighter corners, which is where I feel a little more uncomfortable. We will see what the weather forecast is for tomorrow, but it looks set to continue raining, so we need to focus on finding a good feeling in the wet.”

Brad Binder,
“The first thing that I thought when I woke up this morning was that at least the first pair of sessions would be in the dry. Unfortunately it started to rain just before the start of the opening session. FP1 went fairly well, but in FP2 the track was drier -which gave me confidence. Unfortunately I suffered a rather heavy highside when changing gears mid-corner, which sidelined me for almost the entirety of the second session. I was able to go out again at the end and put in a lap, but the bike was damaged from the crash. I am looking forward to tomorrow and I hope that we can ride in the dry.”

Karel Hanika,
“Given today’s conditions, I think the day went pretty well. The conditions in the rain were difficult until the track started to dry in the second session. With the wet track we were up at the front, always near the top 10, and the feeling with the bike was pretty good. We know that we can improve the setup as well. I had two small crashes as a result of the conditions on track, but we will be focused for qualifying tomorrow. If we repeat the good things from today, tomorrow we can be back near the top 10 again.”