The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team and riders Kaito Toba and Khairul Idham Pawi are at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit in Spain for round 2 of the Supersport World Championship, which got underway today with the free practice and Superpole qualifying session.

Toba made an encouraging start to the weekend, getting into a rhythm fairly early on in free practice and setting a series of interesting lap times. At the end of the session, Kaito’s best time was a 1’48.234. Pawi took a little longer to refamiliarize himself with the Spanish track but was soon lapping with similar times to his team-mate. The Malaysian rider ended the session just two tenths from Toba, with a reference of 1’48.407.

Supersport teams now only have one free practice session, after which they head straight into the Superpole qualifying phase. During the first part of this session, Toba was already able to set a 1’46.896, taking a big step with compared to his performance during the morning’s practice. With eighteen minutes to go, the session was brought to a temporary halt after an incident for another rider meant that the track required cleaning. Back out a few minutes later, Kaito continued to improve his references, setting an overall best of 1’46.429 to place twenty-seventh. Once the session recommenced, Pawi was also able to significantly improve on his earlier pace, dropping his lap time by more than a second and a half to set a 1’46.880. This was his quickest time of the day and meant that he qualified for tomorrow’s race 1 in twenty-ninth position. The team will now analyse the day’s data and make some final preparations ahead of tomorrow’s first 18-lap race.

Kaito Toba

“We are improving but still not enough of course. In Supersport, we only have one free practice and then it’s straight into qualifying, so that is quite a tough schedule, particularly for us with a brand-new project. We don’t have much time to adapt, but we are working hard to make progress. We already found two seconds in Superpole with respect to free practice – and that’s good news – but I guess we need another second or so. The team and I will keep working and try to find a solution that allows us to fight for the points zone in tomorrow’s first race.”

Khairul Idham Pawi

“In FP1 I had some problems with the grip, but once I changed my tyre things went a little better. In Superpole, we changed something at the rear of the bike and also worked on the electronics, and again I felt some improvement, but there’s still a lot to do. We improved with respect to the morning, but need to find something more, hopefully in tomorrow’s warm-up. If we can take another step there, then we’ll feel better prepared for the race.”

FULL RESULTS courtesy of DWO