Raffaele de Rosa dodged rain showers and a strong and chilly breeze at the Phillip Island circuit today to produce one of his best Moto2 qualifying performances of the season ahead of tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.
The Tech 3 Racing rider raised expectations that he can fight for a maiden top ten Moto2 finish in tomorrow’s 25-lap race after he qualified in eighth place in a session dominated by typically unpredictable weather conditions at the Phillip Island track.
The session started with rain that disrupted yesterday’s practice action threatening to play a major role in proceedings again. The showers though quickly dispersed allowing de Rosa to work on several suspension modifications to improve front and rear grip in full dry conditions.
The Italian is something of a Phillip Island specialist after he claimed a brilliant pole position and third place in last year’s 250cc Grand Prix. And his liking for the spectacular 4.448km circuit was evident this afternoon, a best time of 1.36.091 on his final lap securing him a place on the second row of the grid for the first time since the opening race in Qatar back in April.
Yuki Takahashi was unfortunate to find himself down in 19th place on the timesheets, the Japanese rider unable to avoid heavy traffic in the decisive final minutes. The Japanese rider lost 0.9s in one section on one fast lap and had he not encountered slower riders, a place in the top six was a distinct possibility.
He ended with a best time of 1.36.389 to finish less than three-tenths behind de Rosa, the Catalunya race winner confident he can challenge for a top ten tomorrow.
Raffaele de Rosa 8th 1.36.091 – 20 laps
“I was always confident coming to Phillip Island that we could be much higher up the timesheets than at previous races because of my performance last season. Finally I am back on the second row and that makes me really happy. It has been a little bit difficult to find a good set-up but we made a lot of changes and my Tech 3 Racing crew worked unbelievably hard again. We found a good direction with the balance of the bike and improved both front and rear grip so I could put in some fast and consistent laps. I’m sure we can make another step before the race and hopefully I can fight for my first top ten.”
Yuki Takahashi 19th 1.36.389 – 15 laps
“I think I had the potential to be much higher and I think a top six place on the grid was easily within reach. But right at the end I caught a slow group and I lost nearly a second in one section, so I think I could have been much higher up than 19th. Maybe even the front row was possible, but we can’t think about what might have been. The bike is working quite well and I think we can push for the top ten tomorrow. A lot will depend on the weather but I am confident of a strong race to make up for the disappointment of Sepang last weekend.”
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