Over two years since that magnificent maiden premier class win at Assen in 2016, Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) finally tasted podium success once again. The Australian crossing the line in third place at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas to secure his first Ducati rostrum.
Miller has three P4 Ducati finishes to his name since moving to the Bologna brand at the start of the 2018 season and with a potential factory seat on the cards in 2020, a podium at the third race of the season was just what Miller ordered. But the wait between tasting the bubbly on the top step in Assen and on the third step at the Circuit of the Americas was too long.
Miller happy "to get on the podium and break the drought"
“Yeah I got a little bit left,” began Miller, who was struggling with his voice after post-race celebrations. “As you say, Assen was a long, long time ago and that champagne out there tasted really good. It was a long time between drinks, both for myself and the Pramac team, so it’s really nice to get back on the podium for us and to break this drought I’ve had.”
The Pramac Racing rider opted for the soft-soft tyre combination and, although he achieved a podium, hindsight suggested maybe it wasn’t the ideal choice. “Yeah like you say in hindsight, after speaking to the two blokes that finished in front of me, they both said the exact same feeling that I had on Friday afternoon on the medium front, saying they struggled a lot with locking and today it felt a whole heap different. Which can happen but that’s what you get for missing FP3.
“The soft front was great for the first nine/ten laps and then I started having a lot of moments, especially on the right hand side through the long sequence of right handers through the end there. In the chicanes, every time I went on the right side it would wash a little, had to give the good old elbow sliders a good test out but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay with them after the first moment because I was like ‘oop, we’re already here’, so I just tried to manage it the best I could. I knew I couldn’t hang there pace so I was just sort of looking for where the next guy was, which was Morbidelli at the time.
“And I was reading my pit board but I could see him as I was exiting out in the stadium section in the long rights, I could see him coming out of the right before it so I was looking at him and then it changed to Dovi. I was just trying to manage that gap the best I could through just watching where they were and save a little bit of rear tyre. The rear tyre was great all the way through and then I had to save it for the last lap because on the last lap Dovi was on my tail.”
Round 3: MotoGP™ Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas
The factory Ducati man was hunting down Miller’s GP19 – the last thing the number 43 rider wanted, but he held on to hold off the new Championship leader. “Yeah I think Morbidelli and him must have had a tussle, because I almost stretched it out to about six seconds there and then I just saw 5.4, 5, 3.9 and I’m going ‘oh no oh no, he’s coming’, I was like ‘just don’t make any mistakes’, and I knew I had a lot of rear tyre left like I said so I just tried to manage it the best I could to do a semi-decent last lap and if I had to fight, I’d have to fight. So I was just trying to do that and it came out alright.”
A P4 and P3 in Argentina and Americas sees Miller sit sixth in the overall standings. And it looked like a top six result in Qatar was well on the cards before his seat decided to make an early exit stage left. But nevertheless, it’s a very positive start to 2019 for the Aussie, with more tracks he likes appearing over the horizon.
“Yeah thank god the seat stayed on today,” joked the 24-year-old. “Nah it’s a shame Qatar ended like it did, it makes you think what could have been but you know, we’re happy. Back in the top six again today and going to Jerez and Le Mans, two of my other favourite tracks, so…the first half of the season I really really enjoy, it’s the last half where I normally struggle a little. So we’ve got to try and minimise the damage there or try and adapt to work for me like these have.”
Miller was sixth in Jerez last season, but it’s a track he is yet to podium at. Will that change in two weeks’ time?
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