MotoGP Buriram: Miller’s title hopes ‘a long shot but if it’s meant to be…’| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller may not have scored a successive victory in the Thai Grand Prix but second in Sunday’s challenging conditions demonstrated his skill once again.
Miller was one of the odds-on favourites when the heavens opened on Sunday morning. A torrential downpour aborting the Moto2 action before delaying the start to the premier class race by an hour.
Launching from seventh, the Australian was quickly on the tail of his teammate before dispatching both Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin to take charge of proceedings by lap four. It was a position he held for ten laps before Miguel Oliveira finally overcame the GP22 at the final corner.
“When we come into these kind of unknowns - of not being in the wet and then going out in the wet - I already know the guys that are going to be really fast,” Miller acknowledged. “Generally I know I’ll be pretty quick, I know Miguel will be really quick and I know [Johann] Zarco will be really quick. We’re kind of the three that can sort of adapt.
“To be honest I was a bit nervous about Petrux today, thought he might come through from the back end!” he joked of Danilo Petrucci’s return to the class as Suzuki stand-in.
“It was a good day,” he continued. “Another positive race, another positive weekend in general. The bike was working well all round, we were putting in the laps throughout all sessions and able to keep improving. Yesterday I was, again like in Motegi, a little bit disappointed of the quali, having that issue but nonetheless we were able to bounce back to a decent result today and it was a really good race.
“A nice clean battle there with Miguel. I pushed to the bitter end to try and keep him honest, stay within striking distance and yeah, made a slight mistake there. Miguel was definitely way faster through those last two sectors. Every lap I was losing a fair bit of time there and able to claw it back in sector one, sector two.
“Last lap I sort of threw caution to the wind a little bit and was having a bit more of a dig through that sector, like a lot of movement and whatnot just to try and put myself within range at the last corner but it wasn’t to be. He was on rails through there, I had a bit of a moment, ran onto the wetter part of the track and that was all she wrote.
“Watching him through those sectors, it was a lap of two halves,” Miller continued on the late-race rivalry with the KTM. “Because I go into turn three and honestly I’m like ‘Oh I’m right on him’ and then I come out of the second last corner, that little acceleration then between that and the last corner and I’m like ‘he’s blowing you away’ like I was having this conversation in my head like ‘you need to pull your finger out’ kind of thing.
“I just was missing a little bit in those corners. Mine was really solid on braking, almost probably too solid and I was lacking a little bit of confidence, or a little bit of contact through the flowing part of the track where you’re not really transferring too much weight. So yeah, it was one of those days, it was just about pushing where I could and trying to minimise the damage in the bad corners. I’m happy with the results and some decent points on the board.”
With his recent run of success, Miller’s standing in the title race was also given a boost - in part assisted by the top three enduring a run of bad luck as the flyaways kicked off. The Australian is currently fifth and 40 points behind Fabio Quartararo with three races, including his home GP at Phillip Island - left to run.
“Yeah, it’s a long shot but we’ll just keep plugging away at it,” he confirmed of his title hopes. “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. I’ll keep trying my best either way.
“Pecco did a fantastic job today with making big gains after what was a tough weekend in Motegi so it’s really been an awesome day for the team and I can’t thank them enough. They haven’t taken their foot off the gas. They’re pushing for both of us till the bitter end and hopefully we can give them some sort of a reward for all their hard work.”