Goulburn motorcycle racer Tom Toparis has completed his first outing as a Moto3™ wildcard rider today at the fifteenth round of the Motul Grand Prix of Japan.
Toparis’s debut to world championship competition on a foreign circuit could not have been in any worse conditions than what he had to deal with today, as the day was more suited to jetski racing, rather than motorcycle racing!
The seventeen-year-old, who took part in race three of the Australian Moto3 Championship at Phillip Island last Sunday to help him gain more valuable experience for this weekend, finished the opening forty minute session in thirty-first place with a time of 2min19.657 that was set on his fourth lap out of a total of six.
The first session was all about Toparis finding his feet. Toparis did however have to return to the pits a couple of times as he and his Cube Racing team had to tape up the radiator, as a Moto3 bike has to run pretty warm.
While on track, the #70 ex Kiefer Racing Kalex KTM machine was showing warning signs on the dash that the bike was too cold, which forced Toparis to pit which costed him track time.
Once back out on track, Toparis explained that he was in a bit of rush to try and get a good lap time in and as a result tucked the frontend at turn three.
“It was a disappointing way to start the weekend,” Toparis told the Goulburn Post after Free Practice one.
“I just had a low side and as a result of crashing I couldn’t get the Cube Racing KTM machine started again. We’ll hit the reset button and see what we can do in the second session.”
Toparis managed to improve his lap time around the 4.8km circuit by stopping the clock with 2min18.287, which he recorded on his ninth and final lap of the session.
However, the young gun did unfortunately come off again, this time high siding at turn four.
Toparis was going fairly well and slowly working his way into the session and through the fast right hand corner was full gas and the rear end just stepped out on him, unexpectedly which threw him over the bars.
“I’m ok, but hopefully the bike is,” expressed Toparis at the conclusion of qualifying two.
“I’m sorry to the team for the added work I have created. Guess we’ll just have to put in a few hours tonight to get the bike ready for tomorrow.”
It’s forecasted that rain will be hanging around for the rest of the weekend, which is something Toparis does not want.
“I would really like some dry time, as the whole reason why we have come to Japan is to learn the bike before our home round next weekend at Phillip Island. I want to learn how to ride the bike in dry conditions and that’s not happening right now.”
Toparis has expressed that riding a Moto3 machine in the wet is really hard and nothing like his Cube Racing’s ZX6R which he has piloted in this year’s Motul Australian Superbike Championship in the ASBK series.
“I believe these Moto3 machines will be a lot more enjoyable to ride in the dry, but we’ll just have to deal with what is thrown our way,” concluded Toparis.
The third practice session for Toparis gets underway tomorrow at 11:00am AEDT, while qualifying will kick off at 2:35pm AEDT.