It was a MotoGP™ rolling scrum of the highest order at the sharp end of Sunday’s Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2017, with eight of the finest motorcycle riders on the planet not giving an inch – or expecting it – over 27 frenetic laps.
Aussie Jack Miller was a big part of the tussle on his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda, likening the level of seismic activity to his old days in the Moto3™ ranks.
“It just felt like Moto3™ all over again for me – at Turn 4 you didn’t know where they were coming from,” Miller said.
“Outside, inside, mid-corner – there were just people going everywhere. But it was good fun and I really enjoyed the race.”
Miller finished the race in seventh position, five seconds behind winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda), but he had the local crowd on its feet from the get-go.
“I got a decent start but then Marc ran wide and just opened the door for me. I pushed through because what better place to be on the first lap than first,” said Miller.
“I was just thinking, ‘is this really happening’.
“I had a great opening couple of laps, but on the third lap I buttoned off a little bit to let the others come through as I probably did push a little too hard and burnt my tyre a little too much.”
Miller, who has signed for the Octo Pramac Ducati team in 2018, will put Sunday’s race down to a learning experience.
“Once I spent some time behind Marc and got an understanding of what he was doing with his tyre, that helped me a lot,” he said.
“It was probably a little bit too late, but I’ve definitely learnt something for next year.”
Miller tried to close the gap to his good mate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) with two laps to go, but it proved tom be futile.
“I tried to have another little dig to close the gap to Crutchlow, but I just started spinning too much and ran out of grip,” he said.
“On that lap I threw it into Turn 2, and that’s where I really lost all my time. I nearly highsided, which was the same for (Andrea) Iannone as well. The tyre was just finished on the left side.
“It was still a solid weekend all-round. To throw it on the box would have been nice but I’m pretty happy with the performance of my bike and the team.
“And my leg didn’t really give me any grief. I didn’t really notice it up until I went to do a burnout in front of my family and friends at Turn 4 after the race.
“I straightened it out and went, ‘oh, that’s a bit stiff’.”