The PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team officially begins its 2024 WorldSSP campaign at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia

Riders Khairul Idham Pawi and Kaito Toba were out on track at 10.25 local time (CET+10) for the weekend’s one and only WorldSSP free practice, which lasted 40 minutes. Although the sky was very overcast, the rain held off for the duration of this crucial session, allowing the team to make the most of the valuable track time. Both Toba and Pawi completed a good number of laps each before the session was red-flagged two minutes from the end after another rider suffered a technical problem. At the end of this initial phase, the Japanese rider placed twenty-third, followed by his Malaysian team-mate, twenty-fourth.

A change to the schedule this year means that there is no second SSP free practice and that the Superpole session now takes place on Friday afternoon, rather than on Saturday, and lasts 40 minutes. The results of this qualifying phase serve to establish the grid positions for Saturday’s race 1, while the race 2 starting grid will be based on the results of the first race.

Pawi and Toba returned to the track mid-afternoon for the all-important Superpole. Experiencing this qualifying format for the first time, the PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda duo did their best to set a fast time in the early stages, with one eye on the threatening looking sky. Rain began to fall in all sectors with twenty minutes to go and this inevitably prevented riders from improving further on their references. Toba closed with a best of 1’34.051 to qualify twenty-second and Pawi with a 1’34.688 to place twenty-fifth. These results will see the duo line up on the eighth and ninth rows of the grid for tomorrow’s opening WorldSSP race of the season, to run over a distance of 18 laps with a mandatory tyre change mid-race.

Khairul Idham Pawi

“I was struggling today to be honest, with both the long gearing but also the wind, which was pushing me a lot through the corners in FP1 and Superpole. We will see what we can do for tomorrow, trying to make some changes in terms of the gearing and suspension so that I have a little more confidence with the front. Hopefully if we can improve something there, I can feel more comfortable in tomorrow’s first race of the season.”

Kaito Toba

“We took a step forward today I think, making progress with respect to how we did in the test. I’m happy because we’re seeing gradual improvement, but we need to keep working of course. I hope we can reach a point where we can realistically fight for top ten. I’m not satisfied with the overall result, but the important thing is that we slowly close the gap to the front. Tomorrow, we have the first race of the season – it’s going to be a fast one I think, but I will do my best to enjoy it and collect as much information as possible.”