Franco Morbidelli has explained that he threw a leg off his bike during the Japanese MotoGP in order to show Jack Miller that he was “pissed off” with the Australian.
Miller and Morbidelli waged a fight for third position in the opening stages of the Motegi race, swapping that spot several times on Lap 3 alone.
They appeared to make contact when Miller went down the inside at Turn 3, which prompted Morbidelli to throw his right leg up as he reclaimed the place at Turn 4.
Miller got past again at Turn 5 and held the position until the Pramac Ducati rider faded dramatically from around Lap 10 and ultimately finished 10th.
Morbidelli also lost touch with the rostrum places as the race wore on and took the chequered flag in sixth on his Petronas SRT Yamaha.
“I was very pissed off,” said the Italian.
“I thought that I had better pace than Jack but maybe he thought that he had the better pace than me.
“Finally, I was right, because I passed Jack and even though I was struggling I passed him and I did not see him for the rest of the race. I was right.
“But he had a different thought in that moment so he decided to lose some more time.
“I showed him that I was pissed off (with the leg signal). The corner before, he touched me, so I got pissed because of that.
“Also because I think we were actually losing time, there was no reason doing that in such an early stage of the race, especially when you are using a soft tyre and you have to bring it to the end and the first two guys are going away.”
Miller said of the stoush, “He felt like he was quicker but he didn’t have the pace. I was trying to get past him.
“Typical Franco, he’s (half) Brazilian, he loves jamming it down the inside of you any chance he could, and then chucking his feet in the air.
“Yeah, 100 percent, (he was) telling me to wait behind him; I ain’t waiting behind him.”
Morbidelli conceded that a podium was out of reach but suggested he would have finished fifth, which Cal Crutchlow took from him off the last corner of the race, had the battle with Miller not happened.
“I could have done fifth if I did not lose so much time with Jack, this is for sure,” claimed Morbidelli.
“But Maverick (Viñales, fourth) and (Andrea) Dovizioso (third) had better potential than me, so I would have arrived behind them anyway.”
While Miller ran soft compound rubber on the front and rear of his Ducati, he was still surprised to lose tyre life so early into the 24-lap race.
“We had an issue with the rear grip,” he recounted.
“It came around Lap 5 or 7. Since then I was more-or-less in survival mode.
“I don’t know what happened. I felt really comfortable, really strong, I was just trying to stay with Marc (Marquez, winner) and Fabio (Quartararo, second) and then all of a sudden I couldn’t push any more.
“So we have to go through the data and understand what went wrong and where.
“Really disappointed, but we brought it home. It’s not where we wanted to be after fighting for the podium at the start. I believe we had more, but we weren’t able to show it.”
Miller remains eighth in the championship on his way to the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, which starts this Friday at Phillip Island.