moto3 / First contact for Mir and Loi in Motegi
Japan’s Grand Prix started with the two Leopard Racing Team riders climbing the rank, battling with poor grip. A harmless fall on cold rubber for Mir saw the championship leader end in 17th position; Loi re-joined the World championship in 24th, after missing two rounds.
Friday saw practice at the Twin Ring of Motegi begin, scene of the 15th round of the 2017 season. Morning activities started with heavy rain (98% humidity) which unfortunately is predicted throughout the weekend. In the box of the Leopard Racing Team, engineers and mechanics welcomed Livio Loi, absent for two rounds due to injury. Of course, the spotlight was on Joan Mir.
The Moto3 class leader started very cautiously in FP1, gaining a feel for the wet asphalt to communicate with his technical staff. His team-mate also went out on the track to find the right feeling with his Honda NSF250RW after a long absence: both finished their first session in 14th and 23rd positions, respectively.
In the afternoon’s FP2, the two Leopard Racing Team riders flew out of pit-lane determined to improve their times and performance in the saddle of their Japanese steeds. Unfortunately, however, the rain became more insistent and the riders were struggling to fight with poor grip, failing to improve the performance of the morning. Belgian Livio Loi did not go beyond 17th position, while Mallorca’s talent was the victim of an unlucky slide at Turn 3 after mounting a new tyre.
Tomorrow at 09:00 local time will be the third and final free practice session, preview of the 12:35 official qualifying show that will set the starting grid for the 2017 Grand Prix of Japan.
#36 Joan MIR – 17th (2’12.152):
“The first day here in Japan did not go well: in the FP1 we used a used wet tyre, but I did not have grip. In the second session, we were not improving until we came out with a new rubber and I noticed some good feelings, but maybe the tyre was too cold and during the first lap I slipped: free practice is done to draw conclusions and take a step. We’ll see what pace I can have tomorrow.”
#11 Livio LOI – 24th (2’12.909):
“A first day with the rain. At the beginning of the FP1 it was a bit odd for me: it was the first time I was riding in the saddle after the collarbone injury. But I managed to improve on all the laps and finally I managed to keep a good pace. In FP2 we made a couple of changes but there was very little grip. We hope tomorrow at least one session will be in the dry.”
Moto3™ Combined Free Practice Times:
1 – N. Bulega / ITA / Sky Racing VR46 / KTM / 2’09.577
2 – A. Migno / ITA / Sky Racing VR46 / KTM / 2’09.705
3 – R. Fenati / ITA / Marinelli Rivacold / Honda / 2’09.896
17 – J. Mir / SPA / Leopard Racing / Honda / 2’12.152
24 – L. Loi / BEL / Leopard Racing / Honda / 2’12.909
Moto3™ Schedule (Local Time, GMT +9):
Saturday, October 14th:
09:00-09:40 – FP3
12:35-13:15 – QP
Sunday, October 15th:
08:40-09:00 – WarmUp
11:00 (20 Laps) – Race
Photo credit: Leopard Racing