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Kubo Marks Moto2 Return by Taking P12 on Portimão Friday

Kubo Marks Moto2 Return by Taking P12 on Portimão Friday

Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team’s Keminth Kubo made it seem as if he had never left during today’s tricky wet Moto2 FP2 session. After missing the Americas GP, he made his comeback at a fully wet and slippery track in Portimão memorable. The rookie cruised to a stellar P12. Manuel Gonzalez struggled to find a good feeling. He pushed hard until the very end of the afternoon session to take P26 in the combined timesheets.

After missing the previous GP weekend at COTA, Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team’s Keminth Kubo made an impressive comeback to the Moto2 World Championship. Even the trickiest of conditions at the difficult Autódromo Internacional do Algarve couldn’t hold him back. He secured 12th place in the FP2 and combined results. Manuel Gonzalez wasn’t able to make the progress he had in mind. He ended the first day in 26th place in the combined FP timesheets.

Ominous looking clouds were already looming above the track as Kubo arrived at the pit box for the first time since the Argentina GP. He could hardly wait to start riding again, but sudden rain right before the start of the session meant he had to be patient for a little while longer. With 25 minutes left of FP1, the Thai rider tested the water, so to speak. He hopped aboard his bike and cautiously tried what riding at a very wet Portimão circuit was like. At the time he was one of only three Moto2 riders willing to brave the conditions. However, his run ended in a sudden crash on Turn 3 on lap 5 due to the very slippery conditions. Thankfully unhurt, the youngster was quickly back on his feet, but it did mean he ended the session in 11th place out of the eleven riders that eventually had headed out on track.

The rookie rider learned from the mistake. The crash was a clear indication of the limits in the rain for the afternoon session, so he knew exactly what to do and what not to do in FP2. At the midway point, he had climbed up to 18th place in the provisional rankings with a 2’05.760s lap. However, the times tumbled at the end of the afternoon session. Kubo responded with a 2’02.802s on his 14th and final lap to take 12th place in the FP2 and combined standings.

Gonzalez arrived at the Portimão track keen to continue to build on what he had prepared during the preseason test here in February, but heavy rain meant his plans had to be altered. He waited for 20 minutes for the worst of the rain to end before he made his way out on track and briefly topped the timesheets with a 2’07.226s. He kept pushing, setting a personal best time in Sector 1, but then suffered a small crash in Turn 8 on lap 7. At the end of the FP1 session, he found himself in 7th place out of the eleven riders brave enough to venture out.

Back on track in FP2, the Spaniard focused on growing his confidence on the bike. He gradually upped his pace, especially as he was pushing extra hard in the final eight minutes of the afternoon session. However, he never really found a good feeling. He set a 2’05.498s best time on his 13th and last attempt, that put him in P25 in FP2 and P26 in the combined results.

Gelete Nieto – Sports Director

Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team

During FP1, the track was really wet and not a lot of riders exited the pits. Anyway, we decided to exit because we preferred to ride in these conditions, considering that it looks like it will also to be wet tomorrow morning. We're rookies, so we should make as many kilometres as possible. The riders’ feelings were not bad, they didn’t do a lot of laps because they both had a small crash, but that's something that happens very frequently in the wet. They are both OK and their bikes too. During FP2, on the first run, Kubo was riding well, but his bike was moving a lot on the straight. He fixed the problem with his crew chief after entering the garage, and he finished in P12. I’m very happy with the work he did today with his team. Thanks to this result, he is provisionally lined-up to go directly into Q2 for the first time. We couldn’t find a good feeling and rear grip with Manu and his bike. We're working on some changes for tomorrow’s setting, and I’m confident he can achieve a better result.

Keminth Kubo: P12 - 2’02.802

Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team

I’m happy to be back at the track. I made a mistake during FP1. I crashed and we couldn’t fix the bike on time to rejoin the practice session, but in general I had a good feeling while I was riding. I tried to ride smoothly during FP2, lap by lap, to find a good feeling. The bike was moving on the straight and I couldn’t push 100%, so I entered the pit, and we changed something. I was riding with the modified setting during the last 10 minutes. I tried to concentrate to improve my lap time corner by corner. I finished in P12, that’s better than what I thought! I’m very happy. I thank my team and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Manuel Gonzalez: P26 – 2’05.498

Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team

It’s been a strange day. During FP1 it was raining a lot, but we wanted to exit and do some laps. I was feeling good, but I had a small crash in Turn 8, and I couldn’t finish the session. Then in FP2, we went on track as soon as the practice started because we wanted to do a lot of laps, considering that maybe also tomorrow it will be rainy. I didn’t feel good with the bike, the rear tyre was sliding almost in every corner. I had no grip on the rear, and I was always on the limit. I’m not very happy, but we'll keep working for the FP3, which will probably be wet too, and then for the qualifying, which is most likely dry, in order to be ready for every possible weather condition.