Miller sets new lap record in Portugal MotoGP practice

Jack Miller Portugal MotoGP practice

Jack Miller

Red Bull KTM’s Jack Miller has set a new lap record in practice for Round 1 of the 2023 MotoGP season in Portugal.

The Australian finished Practice 2 at Portimao with a fastest lap time of 1:37.709s, edging Aprilia Racing’s Maverick Viñales by 0.037s at the second session of the day.

Under MotoGP’s new event format, which features just three free practice sessions due to the existence of a Sprint race, they are among the 10 riders locked in to Qualifying 2, which now takes place on Saturday morning (local time).

While Viñales is starting his second full season aboard an Aprilia RS-GP, this weekend is Miller’s first race event on a KTM RC16 after five years on Ducatis.

“I found a shortcut at Turn 3 and then also in the last sector,” joked ‘Jackass’, who beat the old record of 1:38.725s by more than a full second.

“To be honest, I’m as surprised as you guys. Not with the improvements, but the lap time. I wasn’t expecting a 37.7 but hey, I’ll take it.

“We’ve been working extremely hard and when I say ‘we’, I mean mainly the engineers.

“I’ve done f**k all except be in Australia for the last four months! They’ve been listening to everything I’ve said, my comments, my wishes and my demands.

“With the new engine, we made a big step. With the new chassis, we made a big step and then also with the change in philosophy in terms of electronics and so on, we’ve made a massive step.

“Exit by exit, session by session, I feel like I can make this bike more and more my own, and also start to exploit the strong points of the KTM on entry with front feeling.

“The bike gives me a great sense of confidence in the front because you get an amazing reading off the tyre.

“I had a couple of moments today; if you look at my elbow, I managed to save a crash like that. I had another one on this [other elbow] side. The bike really gives you an amazing feeling and I’m able to save these moments.

“My objective today was to be inside the top 10 and we were able to do that by a considerable margin. So we will see what we can do tomorrow and then the Sprint race will be a full attack.”

However, Miller shied away from any bold predictions about what is to come in the Sprint race and then Sunday’s traditional Grand Prix.

“We will focus on doing our work,” he stated.

“Like I said. I wasn’t expecting a 37.7 today. It’s very nice to have.

“Also being able to use the soft front tyre on the KTM for a time attack like I was doing in the Ducati is very nice, very different to what they [KTM] were doing in the past.

“So, we will see what we can do tomorrow in the Q2. My objective today was to be in the top 10 and we were able to do that by a considerable margin. Then the Sprint race will be full attack.”

The 10 riders already through to Q2 are Miller, Viñales, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Ducati), Martin (Prima Pramac Ducati), Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha), Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Ducati), Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Ducati), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), and Enea Bastianini (Ducati Lenovo Team).

Marc Marquez missed out when he crashed his Repsol Honda while tailing Quartararo, and will be going into Qualifying 1.

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