Scott Redding endured a difficult beginning to the second official MotoGP test of 2017 at Phillip Island on Wednesday.
The Pramac Ducati rider went down in the morning at Turn 6 and his confidence took another hit in the afternoon, with rear grip problems compounded by a blown engine.
Explaining his tumble, the British rider said: “Just braking into Turn 6, just the first initial brake locked the front. Then I managed to save it, but I had too much speed to continue the corner. So I broke again and lost the front. It was quite strange because it wasn't really much different, just maybe the wind got under there or maybe a little bit of something on the track.”
Reflecting on a frustrating afternoon, Redding said he appeared to lose rear grip each time he tried to up the pace on the Desmosedici GP16.
“I went out again after lunch and the bike stopped - just blew the engine. It just stopped and that was that. It went pop. Went out again and the tyre felt really shit. So I had a really shit run of laps - in-out, in-out, no rhythm. Then I've been struggling a lot for rear grip on entry, turn into the corner and the rear comes around off-gas,” he said.
“That happened quite big a few times and I lost a lot of confidence, so it was quite difficult afternoon to be honest. Every time we tried to go faster I just lost the rear grip and we don't really know why. That's what's worrying me because I'm going into a corner thinking, 'am I? Is it?'”
The issue Redding is experiencing at Phillip Island is different to the problem he encountered in the Sepang test, when he had trouble with rear grip on corner exit, which he explained was less problematic.
“Yeah, I mean Sepang is always like that. It's a greasy circuit. The bigger problem in Sepang was the chatter. But on the gas is a bit different, you can control it. Off-gas you have no control. So that's where I kinda struggled a little bit, because I was rolling off and then it was gone.
“I was thinking 'f**k, f**k, f**k' and then it comes back. I'm just hoping it keeps coming back because otherwise it's going to be a big get-off.”
The 24-year-old was 20th fastest on day one, lapping in 1m 31.755s – 2.2 seconds slower than pacesetter Marc Marquez on the factory Repsol Honda.
“Just a shit day – no feeling. The second tyre we put in for a lap time had less grip than the used one, so that entry thing was worse and I had no feeling to improve. Then I had the crash and that, so I just had really no rhythm,” said Redding.
“Then [I was] just going round in circles to try and fix the problem, but it's not something you can over-ride. It's quite a dangerous thing, so it was quite hard to even put a lap time in. So I'm quite disappointed about today, just frustrated as well because normally I like this circuit. As soon as that wind picked up it just all started going downhill really.”
Redding and his new crew chief Christian Pupulin are working hard to find a set-up with the GP16 that gives him more confidence but for now he intends to 'sleep on it' before regrouping in the morning.
“My crew chief's working well and doing a good job, it's just I think this new bike [GP16] takes a little bit more setting up and I think it changes between the riders a bit more than last year's bike [GP15].
“Last year's bike, kind of you could set-up like the guy next door and it would be not too bad. Now we can have a similar set-up to another guy and I can't ride it, so we need to go in our direction.
“We've got a few things to try, but the problem is trying it and not losing the confidence. If you tip it into a corner thinking 'ahhh...' You don't really want that. But you need to go to that level to try things. That's the hard thing; you get a bit paranoid of the problem and don't want to see if the problem is going to be there or not. But we've got a few things to try, so we'll sleep on it, go out and build up again from the morning and see if we can improve it,” Redding added.
“It's still testing. I also took the approach that I'm not worried about the one lap time because there are a lot of shitty tyres going round. I've had quite a few at Sepang. I thought it was the track conditions and then I heard a lot of other guys complaining. And then today with the second tyre...
“It's a bit shit that you get a tyre that maybe doesn't work as good as the other ones, because you go out and push, have a moment and think, 'was that me? Was it the chassis? Was it the tyre?' It just puts an extra problem into the situation.”