Encouraging first day for Red Bull KTM Ajo09/10/2015
Miguel Oliveira, second, one of riders with best pace on the opening day of the Japanese GP. Brad Binder, fifth and Karel Hanika, eleventh, take important step forward with setup of their KTM bikes.
The flyaway rounds of the Moto3 World Championship tour started on Friday at Twin Ring Motegi with a positive first two free practice sessions for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team. After victory in Aragon a fortnight ago, Miguel Oliveira came out ready to continue at the top of the timesheets, setting an excellent pace riding alone throughout the day and putting in the second fastest time in both sessions. Brad Binder and Karel Hanika also made a good start to the GP, placing fifth and eleventh, respectively in the combined timesheet.
Oliveira -1:57.607-, Binder -1:58.126- and Hanika -1:58.367- were second, third and sixth fastest, respectively, and quickly found a good feeling at the Japanese circuit in FP1. The Portuguese led the 40-minute session for almost the duration, and only in the last moments was he relegated to second place. Binder climbed positions in the final minutes whilst Hanika was at all times within the Top 10.
Despite good track conditions, it was not easy to lower times in the second free practice session. Binder, fifth, was one of the few riders to do so, with a 1:58.113 almost identical to his previous best. Oliveira experienced the same situation as in the morning, when again he had the fastest time snatched from him at the end. His 1:57.629 was just 0.020s off the top spot. Hanika -1:59,063- was 22nd and hindered by a crash with 16 minutes remaining, although he was still able to put in further laps in the session after a trip back to the pits.
After this promising first day, tomorrow will see the starting grid for Sunday decided. Qualifying will start at 12:35pm -local time-, 5:35am in Europe.
Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 1:57.500
2. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:57.607 +0.107
3. Enea Bastianini (Honda) 1:57.799 +0.299
4. Livio Loi (Honda) 1:58.081 +0.581
5. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:58.113 +0.613
11. Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:58.367 +0.867
“This first day we had a good pace and were very consistent, lap after lap. The first two sessions were very similar; I felt comfortable on the bike, although we can improve this a bit -especially the feeling with the front. Motegi is a circuit that we like a lot, and with the work we are doing we hope we can improve tomorrow. We will try to enjoy the race and get the best possible result.”
“Although today’s results were not bad, as this morning we were third and this afternoon we were fifth, I did not feel entirely comfortable with the bike. I had some trouble stopping under braking. That problem meant I could not enter corners well and lost time. Tomorrow we will try something completely new and hopefully do better. I feel very strong but I feel that something is not letting me use all the potential we have.”
“This morning was very positive and I felt comfortable from the beginning. We worked especially on the setup for braking and corner exits, and that went quite well. The rear wheel slid out a bit and we had to make some changes for the second session. Conditions changed in the afternoon and we were not able to ride like we had in the morning. We have a good setup for the front of the bike and that’s good for this circuit, where there is so much braking. We hope for further improvement tomorrow and to get into the top ten. In the afternoon I had a small crash but it was nothing.”