‘Back to the drawing board’ for Miller after Aragon frustration
By James Pavey
Monday 19th October, 2020 - 2:54pm
Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller admitted he battled with a lack of grip as the Australian rider struggled to ninth in the MotoGP Aragon Grand Prix.
Miller dropped to the back end of the top 10 by race’s end, 9.390s down on eventual winner Alex Rins, despite impressing to fifth in qualifying.
The 25-year-old was in the lead pack early on as Yamaha looked to capitalise on its front row lockout, with works rider Maverick Viñales leading Petronas Yamaha duo Franco Morbidelli and pole sitter Fabio Quartararo early.
However, the Yamaha runners fell away, Quartararo slumping to 18th, as the Suzuki duo of Rins and Joan Mir completed a stunning one-three result despite grid spots of 10th and sixth respectively.
Honda rookie Alex Marquez, who started 11th, split the two Suzukis to claim a stunning second consecutive podium.
Viñales was fourth ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, Morbidelli and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), with Miller holding onto ninth by just three tenths of a second over Avintia’s Johann Zarco.
“That wasn’t what you’d call an ideal race, let’s say,” wrote Miller in his post-race column, with the Aussie now 39 points off new points leader Mir.
“Everything was more or less going how I wanted it to, and I’d saved my tyres for the end so I could make a charge.
“I’d deliberately used the medium tyres because I felt the guys using the soft rear were going to drop off near the end, but that didn’t seem to happen.
“The only guy who seemed to have a problem was Quartararo, but the rest didn’t.
“So, ninth it was… not great, not terrible. I guess it’s back to the drawing board and time to do some homework if we’re going to make any headway next week here in Aragon.”
Riders will remain in Aragon with the second of a double-header at the circuit, the Teruel Grand Prix, to be held this weekend.
The works Ducatis and Miller had mixed fortunes to the chequered flag on soft front and rear tyre set-ups, while Zarco, who started 16th, made inroads with a medium front tyre and soft rear.
Miller suggested intel from Zarco’s performance could help vault the Desmosedicis higher up the finishing order next weekend.
“My pace wasn’t too bad really, I was only nine seconds off the win so it wasn’t like we were miles off,” he continued.
“I was pretty happy with how I rode for the most part, but I can’t help but wonder what my race would have been like if I’d used the soft tyres like I often do.
“I don’t reckon that would have had me winning the thing, but maybe finishing a few places further up.
“We need to analyse now how the race went and then to make next week’s race here better.
“Zarco was the interesting one for me because he used the soft rear tyre and seemed to have some decent pace and he’s on a Ducati, so there’s some relevant data to dig through there.
“Sunday was the warmest it’d been here all week and the track was over 30 degrees for the race, so there might be something in that we can learn from.”
A tough day for Pramac was made worse with Francesco Bagnaia crashing at Turn 5 on Lap 3, marking his third retirement of the season to lie 16th in the points.
“I’m sorry because I finally found the right feeling, I felt good and unfortunately crashing after only three laps is always bad, I’m sure we could have made a good recovery,” said Bagnaia, who started 17th.
“When I fell the feeling was that someone had touched me but actually from the data it seems that the gear has not entered well, we will try again next week.”