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Former Moto2™ World Champion Tito Rabat talks about his adaptation to the premier class during the first pre-season test in Sepang.
After winning the Moto2™ world title in 2014, Tito Rabat continues with the Estrella Galicia 0’0 Marc VDS team as he takes the step up to the premier class. For his first season in the MotoGP™ World Championship, Rabat will ride the Honda RC213V which he has now had three outings on, the most recent in Sepang. Back from the test in Malaysia, Rabat talked briefly with motogp.com to discuss his development and adaption to the premier class.
What have you discovered about your MotoGP machine since the first test at the end of 2015 in Valencia?
“The first day in Malaysia was about initial contact and it was quite good. The first day is always a little weird with the bike, new sensations and a new bike, we ran a lot and especially after so long we ended up happy overall. The second morning followed along the same lines as the first and I was able to go faster and roll under a 2’02. We saw that there was progress, especially with the soft option tyre. However, after this the soft compound was removed and I had to keep running with the hard.
“With the hard tyre I simply didn’t know how to ride the bike. It had very little grip and even when I opened the minimum amount of gas, I could feel the bike slide during the entrance and exit of corners. It did not give me confidence to ride comfortably and securely; I have to learn to use this tyre, which I think will be the hardest job of all. Apart from this, in Australia will have some other compounds. We’ll have to work a lot with the hard tyre because there will be many circuits where we will need to use it throughout the year. With the soft we at least know we are closer to the top.”
Speaking specifically about the changes from Moto2; how are you adapting to MotoGP, the carbon brakes for example?
“It’s funny because the brakes, the first time I tried them in Valencia I thought it wasn’t so hard, not so different. But in Malaysia, which is a circuit where you have to brake hard and where all the engine power is used and for longer, I realised I was losing a lot under braking, especially with how these brakes work. The first day I was losing a lot, the second day less and the third day less again. These brakes are completely different and you have to break differently to Moto2 with the steel discs. We must get to the corner and grab the level to function well. In Malaysia we have learned how to work and we hope to improve in the next test.”
In general, riding a MotoGP bike is a more aggressive affair, right?
“Yes, you realise it in every moment, changing direction, braking, accelerating, everything is more aggressive and tiring physically and mentally. Everything is more radical, it has much more power and you need finesse to ride it properly, but once you reached the level required to ride in this way everything works well.”
At this point, do you feel you understand the MotoGP bike or will it still take a little more?
“With regard to Malaysia, I now have a better understanding of the bike and I think in Australia we will not start from zero but continue to advance; we want to be faster every time we are out on track and have a better understanding of the hard tyre because if the others go faster with it, I have to as well. We still have six days of testing before the first race so we have to take advantage of this.”
What do you expect of the next test in Phillip Island? Do you think it will be easier than in Sepang?
“In Sepang we must bear in mind that all the MotoGP riders normally run there several times a year; they’re all very familiar with it. I had the opportunity to follow other riders and they certainly had more than one line, it’s a complicated and demanding circuit. Australia is equally difficult a track, but it is a little more about courage and passing faster through the corners. There are fewer lines there so we hope to move forward. From there, we must to continue to evolve slowly.”
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