MotoGP Motegi: Miller ‘riding with a smile, didn’t know I had that in me!’

| | MotoGP
Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller had a ‘magic’ Sunday at Motegi after dominating the Japanese Grand Prix from the third lap.

Claiming his first victory of 2022, and his first since Le Mans last season, Miller commanded the field by five seconds at mid-race before cruising across the line and indulging in his usual shoey celebrations.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller joked as the celebrations subsided in Japan. “I mean, I felt amazing all weekend, to be honest, since we kicked things off on Friday avo. Everything came together relatively easy, the bike was working fantastic.”

Despite a disappointing qualifying due to Saturday’s torrential rain, the usual wet weather master lined up seventh on the grid before a strong start saw the Australian begin to pick off his rivals one by one. Turn 11 was the location of choice for the majority of overtakes, apart from a somewhat heavy handed move on Maverick Viñales at turn five. “Yeah, That was pretty close. I felt a bit guilty with that one,” he admitted before elaborating on his weekend.

“Qualifying didn’t particularly go to plan - generally in wet conditions I feel like I can challenge for the guys in the front, more so than even in the dry but I just didn’t feel myself,” Miller admitted. “I just was struggling, having moments and whatnot. I was a bit annoyed after qualifying, I knew seventh, okay, was a good salvage job, but I knew it was going to make things a little bit harder but to be honest, I got away to a good start.

“I actually said to all of my crew last night I said ‘we’re winning tomorrow, we’re going for it tomorrow!’ I’ve said it plenty of times before and hasn’t come true so I’m glad that it finally did this time.

“Took off, got a decent start and was able to pick off the boys relatively easy,”he continued. “It’s never easy passing guys like Marquez and Oliveira and those guys, but I felt really confident immediately and I knew where my markers were. I was able to hit the front, which was my plan and then I was able to just eke out that gap lap by lap, more and more and then at times it sort of jumped by a massive amount. Once I got to about like 3.7s I really started calming things down a bit, started short-shifting the thing out of two, out of four because the thing was spinning quite a lot on the straight, as I guess a lot of the other guys were. But even in doing that I was still able to eke out a tenth here, two tenths there and it was just magic.

“It was awesome, I didn’t know I had that in me! I rode out of my skin, that’s for certain.

“It was an emotional one that’s for certain,” the 27-year-old acknowledged. “As it always is with me, I don’t know why. I was crying like a baby on the in-lap! It was amazing to lead from almost start to finish.

“When you’re riding or racing like that, the biggest opponent you’ve got is the man inside your head - so I was just trying to not listen to him too much, and it was relatively easy to not listen to him today when the bike’s working as well as it was, it was just a case of hitting my marks and not making any silly mistakes, which is quite easy to do here, to outbrake yourself or whatever and it can cost you a lot of time.

“Honestly I felt incredible the whole way through the race. That chicane up the hill I didn’t miss my line once, it’s just the best I’ve ever rode a motorcycle in my whole entire life and it feels amazing. The whole time I was riding with a smile on my face. Had a bit of arm pump. I was going down the back straight just like tingling my fingers. I’m like ‘don’t give up on me now!’ but it felt incredible to the ride like that.”

Picture: GeeBee Images
Picture: GeeBee Images