Inability to pass in Argentina MotoGP a ‘massive blow’ for Miller

Jack Miller. Picture:

Jack Miller has described his performance in the Gran Premio Michelin De La Republica Argentina as a “massive blow”.

Miller started 14th at Termas de Rio Hondo and finished in the same position, in a lacklustre showing for the Ducati Lenovo Team rider.

The result means he is still stuck outside the top 10 of the MotoGP riders’ championship with three races in the books, having failed to finish Round 1 in Qatar due to an electronics failure.

However, it was the nature of his race in Argentina which caused big concern.

“I’ve never done a race without passing one single person in my entire life. That for me is a massive blow,” said the Queenslander.

“It doesn’t feel good. We are all working extremely hard now to understand what the issues are and to try and find a solution as quickly as possible.”

Miller had been third-fastest in practice, conducted entirely on Saturday due to the freight delay, but was 11th-fastest in qualifying after an early crash in that session.

To make matters worse, a grid penalty for impeding Fabio Quartararo dropped him to 14th on the grid, and he was only 17th on the timesheet in the longer than usual, 40-minute Warm Up session.

According to the 27-year-old, he was never comfortable with his pace all weekend, nor with the prospect of venturing off the racing line to try and pass during the 25-lapper.

“We were in a tricky situation,” he explained.

“We were missing pace throughout the whole weekend; chasing our arse a little bit.

“We went in one direction, then we made a change during Warm Up and then again for the race, just to try and move the balance around of the bike a little bit and it just didn’t give me any kind of contact.

“There’s a couple of bumps going into Turn 1 and there’s the clean line and then the dirty line. I wasn’t able to put a wheel into the dirty line. If I did, I’d instantly start to lock the front or have moments.

“It just felt like I was really riding on the knife edge this weekend in terms of I didn’t have any margin to play with and I think it’s just due to the track conditions, the way the bike is working with the grip out there, and the steps we made throughout the weekend to try and fix that.

“So I kind of had to ride a very clean, tidy race and try not go out of the line at all.

“I wasn’t able to force in the braking zones as I normally can. I wasn’t able to use the front like I normally would.

“I didn’t make one single overtake throughout the whole race, simply because I didn’t have the confidence in the front to go off-line or try and force a pass.”

Miller has developed a reputation for being tough on his tyres, but that was hardly the issue at Termas given his personal-best lap came on his 17th of the race.

He caught up to those ahead, but could not do anything beyond that.

“I managed the tyres well and really started to push about Lap 16 to try and come back to [Red Bull KTM’s Miguel] Oliveira and that group,” recalled the three-time MotoGP race winner.

“I was able to do it but once I arrived, I wasn’t able to have a decent attempt to pass because if I did, I would have made a problem for both of us.

“So I got behind Oliveira and that’s where I stayed; very disappointing day.

“The goal was to finish. I did that, but nobody wants to finish 14th.

“Yeah, we are only 14 seconds behind the winner, but that’s MotoGP these days.

“We know what our problems are and thankfully we have a great group of people with us to try and find a solution.”

While Miller battled, Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin finished a close second to Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro on his own Ducati, and Francesco Bagnaia climbed from 13th on the grid to fifth aboard the Bologna marque’s other factory entry.

‘Jackass’ remains 11th in the championship, but is now 30 points off top spot, which Espargaro has taken over.

Round 4, the Grand Prix of the Americas, takes place this coming weekend (April 8-10, local time).

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