Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup – Aragon Test report

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Day One

“Knowing we had three days of testing slowed us to focus on getting used to the KTM RC 250. With already have visited the Aragon circuit in 2015 with the Moriwaki 250 Junior Cup, the first session was familiarising myself with the track and running the bike in. This slow pace helped with making sure everything was in the correct positions and that the RC KTM was working well. The first change we made was putting the longer seat unit on to allow me to tuck in better. As the morning progressed the overall feeling was that the front of the bike felt extremely hard, we softened the front of the bike more and more as the morning went on. Before lunch came I felt more comfortable with the track and bike and the feeling in front had improved. After lunch we had three 30 minute sessions, my plan was to do 5 lap runs and then come in to the pits to make a change. This plan worked well, we improved the feeling dramatically in these three sessions. I had more of a feeling which allowed me to push on and improve. The overall feeling at the end of the day is that the front of the bike is a lot softer, but can still be improved, I was happy with how the progressed and how we improved.”

Day Two

“With a positive day one, and improving every time we exited on track I felt very good as we were going in to day 2. As we arrived at the track, it started to rain. Dani Ribalta had a look at the track conditions and decided it wasn’t wet enough for wet tires, but was too wet for dry tires. We sat in the garage waiting for the conditions to improve, but it kept raining. At 10:30 Dani decided it was wet enough for wet tires, so we exited on track with wet tires equipped. We would only do two 25 minute sessions, in the first session it was fully wet and the track conditions weren’t the greatest. But I had a really good feeling with the bike, I stayed out for the entire session to get a feel for the KTM RC 250 in the wet. I finished this session in 14th and only 1.5 seconds off first. The second session was harder, the rain had stopped and the track was drying, we went out for our last exit before lunch, the track was slippy and the feeling was the rear was moving whilst opening throttle. On the last lap I came out of turn 14 and ran wide and on to the white line, this caused me to high side. This crash caused me to hyper extend my thumb which meant I was unfit to carry on for the rest of the day. After lunch the track dried up, I missed three 30 minute sessions which put us on the back foot for Friday. The overall feeling at the end of the day was that my pace in the wet is good, but I’m very disappointed with my crash.”

Day Three

“With missing the afternoon on Wednesday we felt on the back foot going in to the last day of testing. At 9:30 we had a start simulation where we went through the procedures of the race start. In the morning we has two 25 minute sessions. The first exit we struggled, the track conditions were poor as it was cold. The feeling was the rear of the bike was very soft, it would always pump whilst changing gear or opening the throttle. We made changes for the second exit, but during this session I had to come in to the pits to make changes as it was near unrideable. The feeling before lunch wasn’t good, I was trying my hardest but was going backwards. I just kept my head high and had a look at where we were going wrong, the corner exit I was losing out on every corner. So I spoke to the suspension technician, he then realised that I was running the longer seat unit. He was shocked I never crashed, the bike was way too soft. We put a harder spring on, which after lunch we would try in the race simulation. This would mean us doing 18 laps without stopping. We did a nascar style start, with me being number 4, the lowest number. I lead the pack out of pit lane, in the first lap I pushed to open up a gap. This plan worked, I led for 6 laps and the gap stayed the same, the change had worked, but as the laps went on it got worse. I fell further and further back until I crossed the line in 17th. The overall feeling at the end of the day is that we need to improve my feeling with the bike. We can’t afford to miss sessions and we learnt this the hard way. It was a positive end to a hard test, I enjoyed the test and I can’t wait for round 1 at Jerez.”

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