Jack Miller To Miss Sepang MotoGP Test, Tito Rabat Sole Marc VDS Racing Representative

Jack Miller is to miss the Sepang MotoGP test, due to start on Monday, 1st February. The Australian broke bones in his right leg during a motocross training accident two weeks ago, and will not be fit in time for the opening three-day test of the 2016 MotoGP season. Miller is continuing his recovery, and already back in training, working on his fitness with the aim of being ready to participate in the second MotoGP test, at Phillip Island in his native Australia, on 17th February.

Miller's absence means that Tito Rabat will be the sole representative of the Marc VDS team. The MotoGP rookie and former Moto2 champion will be focusing on his adaptation to the premier class, working methodically to understand the Michelin tires and spec electronics which are to be used for the 2016 season. Rabat has swapped his Kalex Moto2 machine for a Honda CBR1000RR, and has spent the off season preparing by riding around Almeria's new layout on the Fireblade.

Below is the press release from the Marc VDS Racing Team announcing Miller's absence:

Rabat ready to get the season underway in Sepang

Gosselies, Belgium – 28 January 2016: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS head to Malaysia this weekend, to get their 2016 MotoGP campaign underway with a three-day test at the Sepang International Circuit.

Jack Miller will miss the first test in Malaysia after sustaining a fractured right tibia and fibula in a training accident less than two weeks ago. The 21-year-old Australian had successful surgery to stabilise the injury and is already back training in a bid to be fit for the Phillip Island test on 17th February.

Miller’s absence means that Tito Rabat will be the sole Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider in Sepang. The former Moto2 World Champion started his familiarisation with the Honda RC213V and Michelin tyres during a two-day test at Valencia last year, but Sepang will be the first opportunity for Rabat to test the bike with the control ECU and unified software that is now mandatory in the premier class.

The Sepang test gets underway on Monday 1st February, with extensive video coverage from all three days available on the official MotoGP website at www.motogp.com.

Tito Rabat:

“I’m looking forward to getting back to work in Malaysia. The aim of the first test is simple; to get back the feeling with the bike and tyres after a break of more than two months since the Valencia test. Sepang is also another opportunity to continue improving the communication and the way I work with my new crew after such a good start in Valencia. If I can improve my feeling and my confidence with the bike with each exit in Sepang then I will leave the first test of 2016 satisfied. I’m facing a steep learning curve this season, so I need to take profit from all nine days of testing before racing gets underway in Qatar.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

“We know from working with him in Moto2 that Tito has a very controlled and methodical approach to testing and I think that will serve him well as he continues his transition to MotoGP. We’re not looking for a massive jump in performance from Tito in Sepang, but rather a steady improvement as he starts to understand the capabilities of the bike and the tyres better. He has a lot to take in, as Sepang will be the first time he tests the bike with the control ECU and the unified software, but I’m confident that he will take it in his stride. It’s unfortunate that Jack is unable to test in Sepang but we are hopeful that he will have recovered sufficiently to join us at Phillip Island for the second of the three preseason tests.”

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So do they make another rule that says you are not allowed to ride a road bike around a motorcycle track? Maybe I misunderstood the "Rabat Rule" but it sounds completely ridiculous to me. All riders were free to do the same as Rabat if they chose to do so, yes?

Yes, every rider was free to ride around a track all day every day on a production bike - like Tito did. Lots of rules are put into place to make things more fair and reduce the barrier to entry though; not all riders have access or funds to ride around a track all day, every day like Tito.

Broadly, it's the same reason that testing is restricted, engine designs are frozen, ABS is banned, etc. In theory it's supposed to stop the team with the biggest budget from buying their way to a championship. Giving a rider unlimited track time, on a bike that's basically the same as what they race, is allowing them to buy an unfair advantage.

That said, a CBR1000 is so different from a motoGP bike that I don't think anyone is going to mind Tito riding one.

If I remember correctly, for the first time out for motoGp at Aragon (2010), Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Rossi and several others had 'familiarisation' days at the new circuit only a few weeks (almost the minimum time allowed) before the actual race, on the best road-based bikes their factories could scratch up.

Only Stoner, of the top riders, did not bother, saying that he would learn the circuit during practice. Given his 2010 season was not exactly running well, there were the expected sniggers and cries of 'arrogance' from some sectors of the motoGp fan world.

Aragon was Stoner's first win on the Ducati for 2010, and one of only three for the year, the others being Motegi and (of course), Phillip Island, (but P.I. is Stoner's even if he's on a Unicycle and towing a caravan, so it hardly counts..)

I doubt that Rabat's riding a CBR1000 around any circuit could be conuted as being much more than a well-focussed physical development programme: getting the muscles and the reactions attuned to a heavier and (possibly) somewhat faster, in a few places, machine.

". . . not all riders have access or funds to ride around a track all day, every day like Tito."

For what it's worth, in the little "Tito trains in Almería" vid just released on the MotoGP site Rabat seems to say that he has access to that track only for an hour on each visit, and that he goes two or three times a week. Does that really set him apart from the other non-"alien" riders in the GP class?