Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat scored a top 10 finish at the final round of the season, the Valencia Grand Prix, for his best result of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship. Since winning the Moto2 World Championship title in 2014, Rabat has been riding for the team for four years, so this home race weekend was a special occasion for the 28-year-old Spaniard to celebrate his departure, and show his gratitude for the team.
“It's the final round of the season and my last race for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS after four years together, so I want to do a good job on Sunday and finish on a high. The overseas races were difficult, but I think our Honda RC213V will suit the characteristics of the Valencia circuit and I am confident we can fight for points on Sunday. That's the goal, anyway."
Rabat lived up to his words at the Valencia Grand Prix with a tenacious and persistent pace.
He had started the weekend sessions with decent pace to be 15th quickest of all 25 riders in Free Practice 1. The same afternoon, he improved his lap time and trimmed the gap to the fastest rider.
“I am very happy with how today went because I was able to lap with a very constant rhythm,” said Rabat. He had a good feel after completing two decent practice sessions.
“I am particularly happy that I did all my laps on my own without following anybody and I kept my pace all the time in the high 1.31s and low 1.32s. This is very positive for me and the important thing now will be building on this start for the remainder of the weekend, so I can end my time with Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS on a high note.”
In Free Practice 3, he consolidated on the good setup he found on the previous day. In the final three minutes, he clocked the 13th quickest lap time. It was almost good enough to proceed to Qualifying 2 in the afternoon. Factory team riders, however, improved their lap times in the very final moments, pushing the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider down to 17th, requiring him to proceed to Qualifying 1.
On Saturday, just before the Qualifying sessions, Free Practice 4 is conducted, where riders check and evaluate their race pace. Rabat set the 4th quickest lap time, which meant his race pace on Sunday would be very promising.
In the 15-minute Qualifying 1, Rabat set quick lap times aiming to set the quickest or second quickest time to proceed to Qualifying 2. Although Rabat’s lap time was very competitive, he crashed at Turn 6 at the end of the session. He missed Qualifying 2 by just 0.05 seconds and would start Sunday’s race from the 14th grid.
On Sunday, 110,220 spectators filled the Valencia Circuit’s stadium-style spectator stands. Starting from Row 5, Rabat was slow off the mark, and dropped down to 18th on the first lap. Undeterred, he clawed his way back up the field.
By setting consistent lap times, Rabat moved up to 15th on Lap 5, and maintained a steady pace. The more his competitors struggled with tire wear, for the 30-lap race, the more Rabat’s consistent pace moved him up. On Lap 25, he was 12th, and gained another position on the following lap. He crossed the line in 10th place. He celebrated his final race for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS days with his best result of the season.
“I am really happy to leave this magnificent team with a 10th place in Valencia,” said Rabat with a contented smile. “The early laps were difficult but I never gave up and it is very satisfying to be in the top ten.”
Tito Rabat concluded his 2017 season with his distinctive persistent style. From the next season onwards, he will be one of the tough competitors to beat for Honda riders.