Miller taking ‘common sense’ approach to Bagnaia’s title quest
Sunday 24th October, 2021 - 9:54am
Jack Miller is promising a “common sense” approach to an Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in which Francesco Bagnaia has a big chance to make ground on championship leader Fabio Quartararo.
Bagnaia is a longshot for the MotoGP title but has qualified on pole for the third-last race of the season, whereas Quartararo is set to start from 15th at Misano after having his fastest lap time deleted given it was set with a yellow flag out.
The Italian set a 1:33.045s early in Qualifying 2, before Ducati Lenovo team-mate Miller clocked a 1:33.070s which was good enough for second on the grid.
The latter had already said that he is willing to help Bagnaia win the championship, as he did last time out at the Circuit of The Americas, but maintains there are no team orders yet.
‘Jackass’ also has his own position in the standings to worry about, and himself has a tantalising opportunity to catch up to third in the title race given Suzuki’s Joan Mir qualified 18th.
Despite a scenario where Bagnaia could take a sizeable chunk out of Quartararo’s points lead, Miller says that changes nothing, and that he will simply take the race ahead as it comes.
“Nobody’s said anything to me about team orders or anything like that up until this point,” he reiterated.
“It’s just me being a rider and having common sense, I think is the main thing.
“We all want the same thing; we all want to see Ducati win, we all want to try and get the best for that, and at the moment Pecco’s [Bagnaia] our biggest chance.
“For sure, it doesn’t change anything for me. I’m there to do the best I can do and yeah, I mean, we’ll see what happens in the race tomorrow.
“But for sure, Pecco’s speed around here is not doubted, so I don’t think it’ll change anyway. The way my race is going, I’ll just try and tag along to the back of him.
“Or if it works out like in America that I can be faster than him throughout the race, then for sure I’d like to get past and try and tow him, but it’s not like I’m going to be divebombing him every three corners and trying to send us both off the track.
“You know, it’s just common sense, I think, more than anything.”
Further raising the stakes is Ducati’s status as constructors’ championship leader by nine points, and as teams’ championship leader by just two points, with Yamaha second in both of those tables.
Quartararo has virtually singlehandedly got Yamaha into those positions and while he faces a complicated Emilia Romagna Grand Prix from the fifth row of the grid, the 27-lapper is unlikely to be straightforward for anybody.
Misano has seen regular rain on both days of track activity so far this round, and no one used a slick tyre until Free Practice 4.
Miller has been no worse than third in any session which he has run in so far, but was no worse than second in any of the four practice sessions before qualifying 10th at the previous round of the season, at the Circuit of The Americas.
After some finger-pointing between him and Michelin, the Queenslander started the race strongly enough but faded in the latter stages, when he let Bagnaia past.
Miller says this Sunday’s race will be a journey into the unknown as he chases a first podium in nine starts.
“For sure, we can do a lot of things better as well; nobody’s perfect,” he admitted about recent mishaps.
“But coming into the race, nobody’s really… Yeah, we raced here a couple of weeks back [five weeks ago] and had a test but the conditions are a lot different than what they were then and I think the way that the tyres are going to work is going to be completely different.
“So, we’re kind of heading into the unknown tomorrow come race time because once we get to around that 10-lap mark, no one really knows what’s going to happen.
“I think we just have to stick to our guns like Pecco said; try and get away at the beginning.
“Thankfully, both Pecco’s championship rival and mine are both buried in there down the grid so hopefully we’ll be able to get out to a decent start and manage the race from there.
“That’s the plan, anyway; It’s a lot easier to plan it than to put it into action.”
Race start is due at 23:00 AEDT.