In view of the expected rain on Saturday, Bo Bendsneyder and Jesko Raffin had to try as many things as possible and gather as much information as possible on the first day of the Grand Prix of Japan, to perform well in the home race of NTS on Sunday.
The Grand Prix of Japan started at the beginning of the week already for Bendsneyder, Raffin and team manager Jarno Janssen with a visit to the NTS factory in Fukushima. “Super nice to meet the people who are working very hard for us behind the scenes,” Bendsneyder said. Under the watchful eye of, among others, NTS CEO Masahiro Namatame, it was up to the riders today to get the best out of the material at the TwinRing in Motegi.
In chilly conditions, it was important to gather as much information as possible for the Sunday race, as rain is forecast for Saturday. Bendsneyder and Raffin used the first free practice to learn and to try as much as possible with different settings of the NTS. At the end of the day, that resulted in Bendsneyder taking the 23rd time, with a fastest lap of 1.51.721, and Raffin in 27th place with 1.52.302.
Bo Bendsneyder: “The position is not great, but it was not a bad day. The differences, especially to the fourteenth, fifteenth place, are small. In FP1 we have tried a lot and made many laps to get as much information as possible. In FP2, a fast lap was difficult because it was cold and there was a strong wind, but we managed to be a lot faster. We could see how the temperature of the tires collapsed when I closed the throttle. The grip was also a lot less. I think the pace is quite good. I know on which points I can and must improve myself tomorrow - when it is dry. When it rains, as is expected, everyone starts at zero again and we will see where we stand.”
Jesko Raffin: “The team has done a great job between Thailand and Japan to improve the machine, especially at the front. We have really taken a big step there. The biggest problem today was getting temperature in the rear tire. I didn’t have enough feeling from the rear and not enough grip to really push. That is not a technical thing or a fault of the team with the setup, but is entirely up to me and a lack of knowledge and experience with this bike. We did find a possible solution, but we could not try it today. We must also improve the engine brake, but that is a matter of electronics. All in all, it was not a bad start, because we learned a lot.”