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9 days ago
By motogp.com

The gambler: Miller bets big in Argentina

The Australian took pole and a fourth-place finish on only his second Ducati outing

Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) can be forgiven for leaving the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina thinking what could have been. He vacates Termas sixth in the Championship standings after spectacularly dancing his way to pole on Saturday, then riding a near faultless race on Sunday to bring his Ducati home in fourth. 

Highlights: Madness at Termas as Crutchlow wins thriller

Miller’s gamble to switch to slicks in qualifying – eventually – paid off. After almost high siding several times coming out of the exit in Turn 7, the Australian stunned everyone to snatch pole off Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) on his final lap. The likes of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Sunday’s race winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) went out on slicks, but chose to box immediately after – with Marquez saying it wasn’t worth the risk. But in Miller’s case, what was there to lose?

This is what the Ducati rider had to say after qualifying. “I remembered the race from Moto3™ a few years ago when it was wet and they were more or less all on slicks and they had really good grip, and I know with the wet tyres here, they over heat very quickly.” Miller continued, “So I went out on wets, did one lap time and it was a good lap, I was happy to have that in the bank let’s say, and then it was an all-in bet with the slicks, I knew that I had to change and go quite quickly to do as many laps as possible to build some temperature and understand where I can push and where I have to be calm. We were able to do this and we were lucky, so I’m very happy.”

His educated gambling wouldn’t stop there though, as Miller and his team made the brave – and correct – call to start on slicks when the grid lined up for the start of the MotoGP™ race.

The decision was made that everyone, apart from Miller, would start from row six and beyond. When the lights went out, the Alma Pramac Racing rider took the holeshot, and led the race until Marquez carved his way to the front.

The decision was made that everyone, apart from Miller, would start from row six and beyond. When the lights went out, the Alma Pramac Racing rider took the holeshot, and led the race until Marquez carved his way to the front.

“The first lap on the slicks was a little bit dodgy, because my tyres were cooler but you know, I managed to keep calm and keep my composure, and yeah just tried to take off and make the best out of it.”

The seven-time Grand Prix winner then saw the number 93 pit in front of him, which made the Townsville-born rider question what was going on.

Riders react to the Argentina GP

“Marc came through I tried to follow him as much as I could and I was hoping he was going to tow me away from the rest of the guys, and he did, but I was quite shocked when he pulled in because I didn’t realise what was going on,” Miller explained. “I honestly thought ‘has he seen rain or something’, ‘did he know something I didn’t know?’ ‘I didn’t see any rain that last lap?’ But yeah it turns out from the start he had a problem.”

It’s a good job Miller didn’t follow the reigning World Champion in. From there, it was a dog fight between him, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Johann Zarco (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) and close mate Crutchlow. The four chopped and changed throughout the race, with the Ducati rider managing to hold off the threat, until a mistake on the final corner with seven laps to go allowed the three to go through.

“I was leading into the last corner, felt the pressure from the boys behind and just missed my brake point by a millimeter into the last corner and just nicked one of the rivers you had to run across and ran wide.” Like the winner he is, Miller then tried to make up the gab immediately. “Then I tried to make it all back up on braking into turn one, which was the wrong idea, and ran wide there as well so I sort of took a step back, started pushing and did my two best lap times but it just wasn’t enough to close the gap to those boys, they were going really well.”

Nevertheless, Argentina showed what Miller is capable of on the GP17 this year – and on reflection – he was happy with how the weekend panned out.

“I’m really happy for this weekend, pole and fourth, would have been nice to get onto that podium… The team are stoked and to start the season off like this is awesome.”

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