MotoGP Germany: Miller ‘I completely chewed through a knee-slider…’

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Jack Miller secured a sixth place finish at the Sachsenring this afternoon despite wrestling with his Ducati for the majority of the German GP.

In a race that was dominated by the returning talent of Marc Marquez, the Australian admitted he wanted more from the 30-lap battle but changeable weather conditions, and an Aprilia roadblock - in the form of a nervous Aleix Espargaro - prevented him fully realising his potential. Teammate Pecco Bagnaia rubbed further salt in the wound in the closing stages by denying him the top-five on the last lap.

“I think we’ve been seeing him get stronger and stronger each week” Miller said on the subject of Marquez’ resurgence this weekend.

“We’ve come to his house now, here in Sachsenring, but anyway, he did a fantastic job. He really managed to race well. I could see him at the front. I tried to get past Aleix when the rain was coming, but he passed me immediately back at turn one. Then he went really, really, really slow through the whole lap and Marc was able to really pull out a big gap. There’s only really one place you can pass here so I had to wait till the next lap to try and go.

“I was managing my tyre really well from the beginning, but already about a quarter of the way into the race I was switching the maps. I went to mapping C on the engine brake, just because I had a lot of lateral slide off gas, something we didn’t have really all weekend, just with the race tyre and I was just trying to manage it.

“To be honest, at the end I had nothing left. I was trying my best. I never really pushed incredibly hard in the race, I was just constantly trying to be gentle, be smooth and I still didn’t have enough there at the end - as you saw Pecco came past me up the hill in between eight and nine, simply because I had nothing left on the left hand side. I tried my maximum, we finished the race and that’s all we can really say. I expected more today but anyway, it is what it is. We can’t change that, now we focus on Assen and try to be better there.

“Nothing to regret at all. I feel like most of my issues were a little bit out of my control. I was trying to do everything the best I could - in terms of managing the tyre and everything - it just didn’t stay under me today. This can happen sometimes.

“In general I felt I rode a smart race, I didn’t really make any mistakes, I was there the whole time. Today was just not our day. Today was the day of Marc Marquez. I think he did a fantastic job. As I said before he managed the race really well, that’s why he is a multiple time world champion. It’s races like that, when he can see a little bit the spots of rain and put a big gap on everybody because we got held up by somebody who wasn’t willing to push in those conditions. He completely deserves it, I think of everyone on the grid, he deserved the win this year and now we have to look forward to Assen, try to do everything the same as we’ve been doing these last weekend’s and keep chipping away at it. We’re still third in championship, not too far back and we can continue to work on that.

“I felt I had the speed to go with Marc but when I passed Aleix I had a bit of a moment when it was raining. I used quite a bit of rear brake on the angle at turn one and I almost had a bit of a highside on max angle, but the lateral slide was really strange. It arose rather quickly in the race. I wasn’t really accelerating off the last corner, or any of the left hand corners, I was really trying to be as gentle as possible. Most of the passes I made were from quite a distance back, just because I’ve been strong on the brakes into turn one all weekend. I’d lose a bit out of the last corner but I was able to regain and overtake at turn one, so I wasn’t having to force the rear tyre at all. I tried everything, I swapped maps very, very early. I was being super gentle with my throttle but it just didn’t stay. I hadn’t really been using my knee-sliders all weekend but I actually used that much that I completely chewed through a knee-slider down to the leather, because I was just having to hold the bike up quite a bit. Like as I go into turn two, roll off and it started coming around and I had to jam my knee in to take a load off the rear, kind of thing, or a lot at the top of the hill, at sector three too. So it’s not what we wanted, as I said I wanted more, but it is what it is.”

Marquez wasn’t the only talking point this weekend, with Oliveira’s third podium in a row for KTM and Brad Binder’s rise to fourth also bringing attention to the Austrian manufacturer’s arrival and with it the potential for them to dominate as they have done across multiple championships.

“I think everybody is focused as much as they are,” Miller answered honestly.

“Honda is a machine and is pushing like hell, Ducati is a machine, they’re pushing like hell, Suzuki, everyone. Yeah they’re doing a fantastic job and that bike has incredible grip, especially Binder - when he passed me today, he was able to put the thing wherever he wanted, which was not even on the line and was still able to accelerate out! So it looks like the bike is working well but if you’d said that at the beginning of the year, I’m sure everyone would have laughed at you. It’s been the last couple of races that they’ve been able to turn around. There’s a lot of smart people working there and they are working very hard, as there are in every manufacturer so it’s not like they can come in and just dominate. Many manufacturers have tried and not many have succeeded. It’s a very, very difficult world this MotoGP but they’re doing a fantastic job.”

Another KTM shining star this weekend came in the form of Pedro Acosta, with the rookie sensation having spent time training with Miller in Barcelona las week.

“That kid is amazing!” the Australian exclaimed.

“Second to none. His racing ability is fantastic. He was there in Barcelona and asked if he could join and of course I’m happy to have him there. He’s super enthusiastic. I like it a lot when these young guys are not coming in being superstars and everything like that, they are coming in and being normal guys. We are here to ride motorbikes and it’s still meant to be fun, even though it’s a job, you still got to make some sort of fun out of it.

“For him to come and train was a lot of fun and the kid is an immense talent. I’ve learnt a lot in my time here. I’ve definitely been on both sides of the spectrum. I’m not taking credit or anything, I just tried to help him, in a way, because when I was in Moto3 I didn’t know anybody or anything at all and I was trying to fight for a world championship. I just try and give him a little bit of guidance, even though he doesn’t have to listen to me. I just say ‘do what you’ve been doing, it’s working up until now, don’t let anybody try and change you, you know what works for you and keep like that’. He’s a smart enough kid and Aki [Ajo] and I have discussed it. I’m more than happy to have him come along to a training, he is not one of these who come in and think they’re better than everybody else in the world, he’s just a normal bloke who’s there to enjoy riding motorcycles!”