MotoGP Misano: ‘Fantastic pole after four years’ - Miller

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller was back on MotoGP pole for the first time in four years at Misano World Circuit on Saturday.

The wet weather master was in his element as the rain continued to threaten at the Italian track but with conditions remaining almost dry, Miller maintained his confident form showcased across the past two days.

Having led the way in FP3, and remained consistently inside the top three on Friday, Miller was quick from the off as qualifying fired up. Hitting the top on four separate occasions as conditions improved, the Australian’s 1’31.899 penultimate effort held off teammate Pecco Bagnaia by a mere 0.015s to finally claim a Tissot watch for himself while wearing red.

“The pit lane was completely soaked,” Miller explained on Saturday afternoon’s trick conditions. “The majority of us all went out on the wets just to try, and if it was gonna rain more, try and do a lap at least in the drier conditions. But once I rolled out of pit lane, I saw that the black asphalt, the new asphalt of the track was completely dry, bone dry.

“A sense of urgency kind of kicked in. I’m like ‘Alright, I need to get back and get on the other bike as soon as possible,’ just while that window’s open because you don’t know how long it’s going to be there. I was able to get back, get a few decent laps in.

“I just watched the session back and everyone was just improving one after the other!

“I ran out at turn 11, took it back a step and I was like ‘have one crack at it’ and I did. It was enough to pull me through. I was getting a bit nervous there on the next lap because I messed it up. I was watching the TVs the whole way around the track and everyone was pushing pretty hard but that final sector I’ve been pretty strong through there all weekend and yeah, it held strong for me today in qualifying. It’s been a good weekend thus far and I’m really enjoying it. Of course it’s fantastic to be back in pole after four years! Been very close many times but it’s nice to have another watch at least.”

While the unpredictable conditions added an extra element, it wasn’t the only surprise for the 27-year-old.

“Yeah, not only the conditions but also the laps on the tyre,” he said of his afternoon success. “With that limited amount of time, we’re only able to use the one tyre and the track was kind of getting better and better. At the end there, honestly, I was riding it like a dry track. I think the rest of us all were, it was greasy, but it was definitely doable.

“I was surprised that I was able to push, I think it was probably my fifth or sixth lap on the tyre and it held strong. It was pretty impressive!

“I went out there and just sort of felt it was greasy but when you get comfortable with your bike you can understand what the grip is doing. You can feel it just by, in the safer areas let’s say, accelerating through out of like corner six, for example here, and even corner ten. You can feel the grip level and then you can understand basically how much you can push the front and then little by little you end up taking more and more and more until you sort of know you’re on the limit. But by the end of the session, it was basically a dry session anyway, I felt.

“Very happy to have been that close,” he said of the circuit’s lap record despite the weather. “A ’31.8, I said to the boys afterwards ‘that’s still fairly going around here!’ So pretty happy.

“We’ll just take the race as it comes,” he continued. “The weather’s a big question mark, as it has been. The forecast isn’t clear but I feel good. We’ve been getting stronger and stronger week in week out. Last week was kind of the first time I could challenge Pecco and have at least a lunge at him for a look in but he soon put me to bed. We’ll try again this week.

“We’ve got a lot of boys going really fast but also the qualifying sort of put a couple of those fast boys a little bit further back down the grid than they maybe would have liked to have been. So I think we’ve got a good chance. We won’t look into it too much, just take it as it comes but in great form at the moment. The bike’s working extremely well and enjoying being back here.”

While teammate Bagnaia is racing for the title, and starting from fifth after a three-place penalty, Miller has his own championship aspirations in sight.

“We know what’s at stake here,” he commented. “I know what he’s riding for, I know what I’m riding for. So I will try to do my best like always, try to do the best job I can do and we will see what happens. We have a good position at the moment, both of us are in a good form and it makes it definitely easier to close down the other guys, with him going fast, with myself going fast.

“We still have, realistically my view is looking at third in the championship. It’s not too far away. We have a lot of races, a lot of things that can go wrong so I also have something to work for as well. So we will keep going and see.”

Picture: GeeBee Images