The 2018 season started for Reale Avintia Racing today at the Sepang International Circuit. Tito Rabat and Xavi Simeon did their first run of the year on wet Michelin tyres due to the morning rain that left the track completely damp. With high humidity and the slow drying asphalt of Sepang, it took a while until the track was completely dry, so the riders had to wait until the afternoon to have normal conditions again.
Tito Rabat worked with the harder compound of Michelin’s allocation for this test throughout the day. The goal was to get the feeling back after two months without riding his Ducati. When he grabbed a new set of soft tyres for the last hour of the day, the Reale Avintia rider immediately improved his pace. Then he crashed at turn 5 and his day was finished. It was a shame because he was fast, his feeling was very good and he felt that was capable to improve his lap times, as all the other riders did in the last part of the day. Nevertheless, he expects to make another step forward tomorrow and continue his positive progression with the Ducati Desmosedici GP17.
For Xavier Simeon, the first day at Malaysia was good. After just four days of testing in Valencia and Jerez, the Belgian rider was focused on recovering the feeling with the bike to continue his adaptation to the premier class. In every exit, he did improved his pace and the best news was that his shoulder, which he injured towards the end of last year’s Moto2 season, didn’t cause any problems and he was able to complete 47 laps.
“I’m very happy to start the season and I felt very good on the bike. We worked all day with the medium rear tyre compound and at the end of the day we mounted the soft one and the feeling improved a lot. The problem is that we don’t have enough tyres and we’ll have to manage it fairly well in the next two days. It was a pity that I crashed when we started to go fast because this stopped me from improving further. But a lap time of 2’00 after the long winter break without riding the bike is pretty good and I’m very happy. The crash was silly, since I simply went too fast in that corner. But for tomorrow, I’m calm because I’ve seen that I can go fast and I feel very good with the bike”.
“I felt quite good today, but it’s true that I found it difficult to get used to the bike again on a track that is very different from Valencia and Jerez. Overall, I think we made a good step. We have been working all day with the same tyres and we just put a new set an hour and a half before the end, but although I haven’t been able to improve the pace, my feeling was good. All in all, today went a lot better than I expected. Tomorrow I hope to start from the base we have established today and improve a little more. Ten minutes from the end, when we had stopped, everyone else improved their times, but we have not reached that point yet. The important thing at the moment is to understand everything, to progress and not to make any mistakes. After so many years in Moto2 I have to change a lot of things, but with every additional lap on this bike, I feel more comfortable. I’m also happy because I worked very hard this winter to get back into shape after my shoulder injury and today the shoulder has not caused me any problem at all”.