Miller ‘as shocked as anyone’ at front row

Jack Miller pic:

Jack Miller was ‘as shocked as anyone’ at qualifying in second position for tonight’s San Marino MotoGP at Misano.

Miller, on a year-old Ducati Desmosedici GP17, was second only to the factory Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo, who broke his own qualifying lap record to make pole.

The Pramac rider had started the season in career-best fashion with a run of five top 10 finishes, including a fourth placing at Le Mans and a first MotoGP pole at Termas de Rio Hondo.

However, Miller finished top 10 only once in the following six races from an average qualifying position of 14.5 through that period, a slump he described as ‘stressful’.

The 23-year-old qualified ninth last time out at Silverstone and, having switched to slicks, was convinced he would have been on pole had there been enough time for another lap.

While he may not have taken top spot on the grid at Misano, it was his best qualifying result in a session not affected by rain.

It also came after he only just earned a bye to Qualifying 2 by finishing second-fastest in Free Practice 3 on a drying track.

“I think I was as shocked as anyone. I felt good,” said Miller.

“We didn’t do the (private) test here (last weekend) but I had good speed in Silverstone and really good speed in the test at Aragon the other day and I hit the ground running.

“The first tyres were great and I had good speed. I maybe pushed a little at the end of FP1 and lost the front at T1 and then got around to the next session and also crashed on the last corner, the same thing.

“I just couldn’t get the tyres up to temperature, it was a little bit overcast and I just went a little wide and everyone saw the moment and she went down.

“I knew I had good speed, then this morning (FP3) in the half wet, half dry I was actually outside of the Q2 cut-off so I had to really grit my teeth and go for it in that one and we were able to do the lap time, just.”

The Queenslander is also confident that he has the pace to fight for a strong result on Sunday afternoon after a promising race simulation prior to qualifying.

“The goal is to go for the podium,” declared Miller.

“FP4 was really good for us. I think myself, Marc (Marquez) and Dovi (Andrea Dovizioso) were the only guys are the front who tried used tyres.

“Race pace feels very good, but it’s going to be a long, hot race. As we’ve seen in the past if we follow too closely with the Michelins, the front tyre temperature and pressure rises quite a lot so I think clear air may be a help.

“That’s not to say I will go and try to blitz it at the front, but try to get the least amount of bikes in front of me as possible.”

Regarding the upswing in form, Miller was unsure what the reason is for the fluctuations but drew comparisons to his runner-up season in Moto3 in 2014.

“To be honest I wish I could tell you as it seems to me like it is 2014 all over again for me,” he said.

“I always struggle in those few tracks we’ve been to.

“I was trying and doing everything the same more or less but it took for Austria for it to sink in when I was fighting in the race but I cooked the front tyre. I ran off into the gravel and it was a shocking race for me.

“It really took me to hit that low point and go ‘Okay step back, hit the reset button, and go again.’ It seems to have worked.”

Race start tonight is 2200 AEST.

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