It was all change at the Automotodrom of Brno on Saturday as wet weather was the order of the day. Full wet tyres suited Sylvain Guintoli as the Frenchman flew into 3rd place in FP3 – a position he held until the chequered flag.
With most riders unable to improve, Friday’s FP2 times stood; this meant direct passage to Q2 for Alex Rins, but not for Guintoli or Mir, despite a big step made by the rookie.
FP4 was a crucial session for finalising set-up in the difficult conditions, and Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s riders made the most of the half hour on track.
Mir and Guintoli had an uphill battle in a competitive Q1 session, and both riders tried hard to promote themselves into final qualifying. While Sylvain will start 15th on the grid, Joan found himself down in 19th after struggling to recapture his FP3 feeling.
Q2’s mixed wet and dry conditions made for a tense and tricky 15 minutes in which decisions had to be made between rain tyres and slick tyres: Rins went straight into 2nd place on his first flying lap on wets but opted for slicks for his final run as the track began to dry. With time running out, Rins couldn’t get a comfortable feeling as rain poured down once again, but the Spaniard will nevertheless start from a strong 6th position.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager: “The conditions weren’t easy today, but Alex managed the situation quite well and was able to stay on the second row – that’s important for tomorrow’s race and we’re happy with it. Joan wasn’t able to show his potential in the mixed conditions, it was difficult for him, but we’ll continue to work, and he will try hard for a good start. Sylvain showed some very good pace in the wet, and that’s positive to see. We’re hoping for a dry race, because everything will be more straight-forward.”
Alex Rins: “This sixth place on the grid is positive, I feel that my pace can be good in the dry or the wet, so I’m ready to enjoy tomorrow’s race. The Q2 session was difficult because tyre choice was crucial, it wasn’t a clear decision between the wet and the slick. In the end I tried the gamble of slicks and it didn’t work out because the conditions were half and half, but I’m not really disappointed because my position and pace are good anyway.”
Sylvain Guintoli: “It’s been another great day for the test team. Things started well this morning and I took 3rd place in the wet! Then, this afternoon, I got really close to Q2 and I was disappointed not to make it. But overall, everything is going well and I’m really enjoying riding the bike and helping out the team. I feel so good, and I’ve picked up the rhythm quickly, so I’m very happy about that.”
Joan Mir: “In the wet my feeling was actually really good, and with each setting change I could feel my performance getting better. But in qualifying I lost out because for some reason I couldn’t replicate those earlier lap times, it was strange, and we’ll work tonight to try to understand it and find the solution. Warm-up tomorrow will be important for finding tomorrow’s dry race pace.”