Miller on Mir: ‘Every time I race with the guy he seems to run into me’
Monday 4th October, 2021 - 9:59am
Jack Miller believes there was no need for last-lap contact with Joan Mir, who seemingly runs into him “every time”, at the Circuit of The Americas.
The two came together at Turn 15 as Mir tried to prise sixth position from the Ducati Lenovo Team rider on Lap 20 of MotoGP’s Grand Prix of the Americas (COTA).
Both went wide as a result, which opened the door for Enea Bastianini to instead snatch the spot, while Mir took the chequered flag seventh and Miller eighth.
However, stewards saw fit to penalise the 2020 champion for ‘irresponsible riding’ by demoting the #36 Suzuki one position, meaning he was relegated behind the Queenslander’s #43 Ducati after all.
The run-in is not the first between Miller and Mir, with the latter having criticised the former for “super dangerous” contact in their battle at this year’s Doha Grand Prix.
“Like last time in Misano I finished in one position and then a penalty lifted me a position higher – it’s a story you’ve heard before…” wrote the Ducati pilot in his post-race newsletter.
“I crossed the line eighth at the end but you all saw what happened with Mir on the last lap.
“It was like last time in Misano all over again. I got hit, lost spots to two guys… at Misano he got pushed back a place for track limits, and here it was one place for irresponsible riding.
“Race direction did what they did with him, so there’s not much more to say about it really.
“I was struggling with my front tyre, I tried to protect the line… but you can’t protect when someone runs into the side of you, can you?
“I swear, every time I race with the guy he seems to run into me. It’s not just the last two races either.
“I think there’s better ways you can go about the situation. I was fading at the end of the race, don’t get me wrong, but that didn’t need to happen.”
Miller was seen in a frank exchange with Mir on the cool down lap at COTA, although ‘Jackass’ says he kept his cool during the confrontation.
“Fortunately, I was able to stay on the bike and I felt I controlled myself rather well afterwards,” he added.
“Maybe I’m getting older and more mature, that’s a nice sign you could say…”
Miller confirmed that he did indeed let team-mate Francesco Bagnaia through on Lap 13, pointing out that he not only gave the Italian a better chance of fighting for the riders’ title, but also enhanced their teams’ championship chances by letting #63 get after the front-runners.
As for his own championship aspirations, #43 was at least pleased to make ground on Mir, courtesy of that penalty, and Johann Zarco, who crashed out of ninth position on Lap 5.
Miller is now up to fourth, 26 points or just over a full race behind Mir, and eight points ahead of Zarco.
“For the championship, it was Mir and Zarco I had to get ahead of, and they were both starting in front of me,” he noted.
“So at least that happened, and I’m now up to fourth overall which is better than I’ve ever done before.
“Three races to go to defend that now and see if I can move forwards.”
It was not just the race that was a topsy-turvy affair for the two-time Ducati grand prix winner, who charged from 10th to fourth before he ran out of front tyre grip.
He has been second-fastest in both Friday practice sessions, one wet and one dry, then fastest in both Saturday sessions, the former of those by almost seven tenths of a second.
However, Miller qualified on the fourth row, after which he was apparently furious about what he suggested was an issue with one of his tyres.
Michelin seemingly responded in its end-of-day Tyre Tech Notes by claiming that an unnamed rider who made the “one complaint after Q2” was too slow on his out lap preceding his only time attack on his second run in qualifying.
The release asserted a 20-second discrepancy and data shows that Miller’s out lap for that run was 16 seconds slower than Bagnaia’s, with whom he of course shares a garage.
Also notable is that Bagnaia took pole courtesy of his very next lap, a 2:02.781s which was more than three tenths up on next-quickest in the field.
Both started those runs on a new soft rear tyre, although Miller had a used soft front compared to Bagnaia’s used hard front.
Round 16 of the season is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, on October 22-24.