Jack Miller is confident of fighting for the podium in this weekend’s Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix having led the race last year.
Miller arrives at his home grand prix off the back of a mixed weekend in Japan, where he qualified on the front row but crashed out mid-race having lost touch with the leaders.
Phillip Island has been one of the Townsville native’s better circuits in recent years and he led the early stages there in 2017 before fading to seventh due to word rubber.
Miller took a career first MotoGP pole in a weather-affected qualifying session in Argentina earlier this year and bagged second position on the grid at San Marino, but has not been able to add another podium to his sole victory to date, in The Netherlands in 2016.
The 23-year-old believes that the elusive next rostrum finish could come this weekend, especially if last year is any guide.
“I feel so, I feel so,” said Miller when asked if he could contend for a podium.
“We’ve been there or thereabouts, and we’ve been really close on a lot of occasions this year.
“Coming into Phillip Island, I feel I’m on a better machine than I was last year, and we led seven laps last year, so hopefully this year we can turn it into 27 (race distance).
“I know what I did wrong last year in the race in terms of tyre consumption, I’ll take what I learned especially from last year’s Australian Grand Prix, and use that knowledge this year especially with my tyre choice and also the race strategy and I think it should be good.”
Miller says that he and his Pramac Ducati team have also learned from last weekend’s race at the Twin Ring Motegi, where he quickly gave up ground to the then-championship combatants Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso before losing the front end of his bike around the halfway mark.
“That’s the way it is in our sport; it can be all roses one day and then you’re back in the gravel the next, so we just had to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off,” he suggested.
“We tried a few things in the race which weren’t ideal but us being sort of an outside in the race, we were able to sort of throw caution to the wind when it comes to tyre choices and stuff like that.
“I made a decision and it wasn’t quite the right one I don’t think, and it cost us that race but I think we’ve gained from it.
“We’ll take our experience and the knowledge that we’ve got from the Japanese Grand Prix and bring it here to Australia.”
Miller is 13th in the MotoGP world championship, which resumes on Friday with Free Practice 1 from 1155 local time/AEDT.