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If you thought Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) was a gambling man after his stunning performances taking a punt on slicks this season, you’d be right. But there’s more to Miller than the roll of a dice and pure bravery, with the Australian’s pace at Misano proving stunning on Saturday to set him up for race day in second on the grid. Not only that, it makes him part of the first ever back-to-back 1-2 for Ducati machinery!
So how does the Aussie feel to be starting second?
“I was a bit surprised at the first row and I didn’t believe it at the time,” grins Miller, who explains the story of the success goes back to Friday. “I thought I could go directly through to Q2 yesterday but we’d had a disaster in FP2. I put in the softs at the end after the crash, I went out on medium-medium to get some race setup, couldn’t get the temparatures up after four laps and it was a strange crash. Then I only had a soft front and I wasn’t able to do the laptime, I did the same as FP1 when I ran into some traffic.”
Miller: "I knew I had something up my sleeve"
That changed on Saturday morning however, as the Queenslander pounced for automatic graduation to Q2 right at the end of FP3.
“I knew I had something up my sleeve,” continues Miller. “This morning when it was half-wet, half-dry I said ‘ok I need to take the gamble’…but when I exited I knew the tyre was much better than yesterday, and even though there were some wet patches I was able to pick my line and do a clear lap and put it into Q2 – just. Then, I got an easy tow from Jorge!”
Easy might be an overstatement, as the Aussie, by chance, found himself trailing the most successful qualifier in the premier class at the venue.
“By chance, I came in quite early on the first tyre and the second was really good, then he was there in front of me. He pushed like crazy off the start, so I had to push really hard on the first tyre. And I did the laptime! The lap wasn’t perfect but on the next two laps I got a red sector in the second sector on my dash, I was pushing like hell, but I couldn’t go any faster. This lap…to be honest it would have been difficult to go better than this.”
Looking ahead to race day, then, what does Miller see? A crucial tyre decision, as most of the grid agree, but he’s definitely optimistic.
“It looks like we’re going to have to use the medium tyre for the moment. I used the soft earlier and did almost 20 laps but it was starting to drop away quickly. The laptimes were good but it wasn’t going to be good soon. Then I used the tyre I crashed on yesterday and again it was hard to build up the temperature, so I don’t have a clear understanding of how the medium is working. I’m looking forward to trying a new one, or maybe we just have to gamble with it and hope a new one works better. But I feel we can do a good job, work hard tonight to make the right maps so we can manage the tyre at the end of the race, and thanks so much to the team and everyone who supports me.”
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