Miller confident about Ducati’s dry-weather potential at Portuguese MotoGP

Jack Miller, during one of his many wet-tyre laps at Portimao

Jack Miller believes he has a strong dry-weather base for tonight’s Portuguese Grand Prix after qualifying on the front row in the first full-slick session of the weekend.

With regular rainfalls at Portimao, Qualifying 1 was the first hit-out of the weekend in which any of the riders ventured onto the circuit on slicks, a gamble which had significant consequences for Miller’s Ducati Lenovo team-mate Francesco Bagnaia.

The fastest laps of that session, however, were ultimately set on dry-weather rubber as the surface continued to improve, and all 12 riders who made it through to Qualifying 2 each completed a long, single run on soft Michelin slicks.

Miller ended up fourth-fastest at exactly half a second off the pace of fellow Desmosedici GP22 rider Johann Zarco, with the latter taking pole on his Pramac Racing entry despite being more than three seconds away from Bagnaia’s qualifying benchmark when MotoGP was last at Portimao, for the Algarve Grand Prix in November 2021.

However, the conditions were such that ‘Jackass’ was taking his speed as a positive sign.

“I’m satisfied, let’s say; the first job’s done of the weekend, so hopefully we can keep our form that we’ve had all weekend,” said Miller.

“I feel rather strong, but hopefully we can keep that going in tomorrow’s race.

“The bike itself felt relatively good. We haven’t been able to play with anything – I mean, first dry session – but the bike felt pretty good so we’ll analyse a little bit more tonight and try to guesstimate our set-up for tomorrow’s race.”

The Queenslander was nevertheless still somewhat disappointed with a mistake he made on his final flyer.

He had been fastest when the chequered flag came out, but lost three seconds in the first sector as he tried to tighten his grip on provisional pole.

“Kicking myself a little bit; I made a mistake on the last lap, just at Turn 1,” admitted Miller.

“[I] just tried to fire it in there a little bit deep, lifted the rear down the hill, and wasn’t able to get it stopped, and ultimately, in a session like that where each lap gets quicker and quicker, you can’t really make a mistake like that, especially at a crucial point, the last flying lap.

“I think we would have caught the traffic anyway, but anyway, happy enough; second row, fourth, puts us in a good position for tomorrow’s race, and I think we can do a good job from there.”

Bagnaia will have to be cleared by FIM doctors before he can race, from the last position on the grid, but scans at hospital reaffirmed that he suffered no fractures when he highsided and landed heavily on his right shoulder in Qualifying 1.

Warm Up is scheduled for 18:40 AEST and the Race at 22:00 AEST.

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