Miller tips Marquez as favourite for Australian MotoGP race
Sunday 16th October, 2022 - 9:30am
Jack Miller believes that Marc Marquez is the favourite for victory in the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, despite his somewhat unlikely front row.
Marquez qualified second-fastest although he admitted that his “only chance” to do so was to get a slipstream from a Ducati, and hence he tucked in behind Francesco Bagnaia for what would be his quickest lap of the session at Phillip Island.
While the Desmosedici has traditionally not been a motorcycle which handles well, it is nowadays thought to be a far more balanced machine and that has been vindicated by the performances of the likes of pole-sitter Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing) and Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) himself.
The latter’s factory team-mate Miller, however, has tipped the Repsol Honda Team’s main man as the “biggest contender” on the basis of his experience and hence his ability to manage tyre life at a track which is the toughest on the calendar on rubber.
“I think the biggest threat or the biggest contender definitely will be Marc,” said ‘Jackass’.
“He’s got plenty of experience of winning around here, he seems to be in good form, so he’s probably the one I’m looking at the most.
“[Maverick] Viñales, he’s another one.
“I think he’s quietly sort of creeping around there, he’ll be strong in the race, and that Aprilia’s pretty good on its tyres.”
Viñales is an interesting pick considering he made it through to Qualifying 2, but did no more than that considering he earned 12th on the grid, but the Spaniard did win the Australian MotoGP race at Phillip Island in 2018.
Marquez has three victories at the Victorian circuit in the premier class, including the most recent race in 2019, but he was not ruling out his fellow front row starters when Miller’s comments were put to him.
He reasoned that both Martin and Bagnaia, the latter of whom he denied second place by getting in his slipstream, will be able to preserve their Michelins because they have so much straight line speed.
“Tyre management will be important but Pecco [Bagnaia] also has good experience, Jorge understands the category very well and everybody knows,” said the six-time MotoGP champion.
“If you have a fast bike on the straight, it is easier to manage the tyre.
“At this point, at this moment, I’m not in the position to manage the tyre.
“My target is just to start and to try and be there. If I can be there but need to use the rear tyre, then I will use it.
“It’s true that it’s the race where I feel closer to the top guys but I’m not the fastest one and if you are not the fastest one then you cannot manage the tyre.
“You need to give everything to follow the top guys.”
Miller qualified only eighth, one worse than he had for each of the last two races, but finished those first at Motegi and second at a wet Buriram.
The 29-year-old has five MotoGP starts at Phillip Island, finishing third at the last time of asking in 2019, and believes he also has an advantage due to experience.
“There are a lot of young guys that haven’t raced here, so I think we should be able to use the experience we’ve had with racing here in terms of the tyres,” commented the four-time premier class race winner.
“We’re on a different compound of tyre here to what we’ve been on throughout the whole season, so we know what we need to do for [the race].
“I’m always disappointed to be eighth position at your home grand prix, but it seems to be the way of the last couple of weeks – we’ve been on that third row – so, back again.”
There will also be no repeat of his 2017 heroics, when the then-Marc VDS Honda rider charged out to an early lead, only to fade to seventh at the chequered flag.
“It’s a long race around here,” noted Miller.
“I led the first seven or eight laps of this grand prix, like a dickhead, riding off like an absolute idiot, smoking the tyres, and I can tell you that was the longest 10 laps of my life towards the end of the race when you do that.”
Warm Up starts at 09:40 local time/AEDT and the 27-lap Race itself at 14:00.