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Aussie Watch: Miller fumes, Kelso banks top five in Spain

Matt Clayton
Monday, 29 April 2024

Jack Miller was angry after an incident with Franco Morbidelli forced his retirement from Sunday’s race in Jerez, while Aussie Moto3™ duo Joel Kelso and Jacob Roulstone again scored points.

Jack Miller was seething after a miserable Spanish Grand Prix ended with a lengthy visit to the race stewards after being taken out by Pramac Ducati rider Franco Morbidelli late in Sunday’s race at Jerez, the Australian leaving round four of the season pointless as his season slumped from bad to worse.

Miller, on the podium in third place for KTM in both the Sprint and Grand Prix proper at Jerez 12 months ago, was disputing 11th place with Morbidelli at Turn 5 on lap 18 of the 25-lap race when Morbidelli, on the inside, clattered into the right-hand side of Miller’s bike and sent both riders into the trackside gravel.


Miller was incensed and confronted Morbidelli before marshals got between the two riders, and the pair had to pay a visit to the race stewards after the Grand Prix to explain the incident, Miller making it to his post-race press debrief nearly three hours after the chequered flag and after the clash had been deemed a racing incident, with no further action taken.

On lap 16, Miller had been overtaken by a recovering Pedro Acosta after the Spanish rookie had fallen from 10th on the grid to 18th on the opening lap, and said his plan was to take note of how the Spaniard was riding his sister GasGas machine before the Morbidelli incident.

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“When Pedro came past I tried to hook the claws into him just to try to understand what he’s doing differently, try to understand and learn as much as possible,” Miller explained.

“Unfortunately that got cut short when Franky decided he wanted to make a gap where there was no room, and it resulted in us both having an early shower.”

Miller’s angry response afterwards drew the ire of the stewards.

“I got a telling off for my actions afterwards … I didn’t hit him, I didn’t want to punch him or anything like that,” he said after falling to 14th in the championship standings.

“I was just obviously frustrated.”

Sunday’s spill was in keeping with a weekend for Miller where whatever could go wrong seemingly did. On Friday, he missed an automatic entry to Q2 after crashing on his first soft tyre run in practice, while in Q1 on Saturday, a problem fitting the rear wheel into his RC16 saw him on track later than his rivals and played a part in him qualifying just 15th, his worst starting spot of the season.

A slipping clutch in Saturday’s Sprint led to him crashing at the final corner on lap one and remounting to finish 14th, a place he kept despite copping a post-race penalty for a tyre pressure regulation breach.

After Sunday’s crash, Miller was left wondering what else could have happened to have his Spanish weekend go south so dramatically.

“I don’t know if I’ve run over a black cat or walked under a ladder … but we’re just struggling to get luck turning our way,” he said.

“I’ve been at rock-bottom before, and fingers crossed we’re at it now and we can build back up. All we can do is stay positive, keep working, keep the training going, keep the plan going … and then it’ll turn around.”

In Moto3™, Australian Joel Kelso’s consistent start to the season continued at Jerez, the 20-year-old equalling his season-best result with fifth place in Spain, having finished in the same position in Portugal in round two.

The BOE Motorsports rider, who started from fourth, was part of a six-bike breakaway that emerged after dominant pole-sitter David Alonso (CFMOTO) dramatically crashed from the lead at the end of the first lap.

Kelso’s race became a one-on-battle for fifth with Alonso’s teammate Joel Esteban, which was finally settled in the Australian’s favour when Esteban fell at the final corner of the race.

"Honestly, I've always struggled here,” a frustrated Kelso said afterwards.

“We qualified P4 but still one second from Alonso, and I don't understand where I need to do the time to be faster here. There's a couple of corners where I can't get it, can't manage it.

"We managed to finish P5 still, so that's good for the championship."

The Darwin rider sits in fifth place in the Moto3™ standings after four rounds.

Compatriot Jacob Roulstone had a tougher time of it in Spain after a promising beginning, the 19-year-old rookie finishing 12th after a crash in qualifying stopped his progress.

Riding for GasGas Tech3, Roulstone was brilliant on Friday, where he ended the day in second place on the timesheets. All that good work went awry in qualifying, Roulstone crashing in tricky wet conditions at Turn 5 in Q2 and failing to set a time, leaving him mired in 17th on the grid.

A sore Roulstone dropped from 12th to 18th with six laps to go, but fought his way back to 12th on the final lap, climbing one place to 10th in the championship standings.

"I felt a lot of pain in my body after my two crashes from yesterday, but I decided to push through anyway,” Roulstone said.

“We started quite well, but after 10 laps the pain on my shoulder and wrist became more intense, and I lost a bit of rhythm.”

The final Australian in action on Sunday, Senna Agius, had a short and painful Moto2™ outing at Jerez after a second-lap crash at Turn 6.

Running in 21st place, the 19-year-old was in close combat with Spaniard Jorge Navarro (Forward) when he ran into the back of Dutch rider Zonta van den Goorbergh (Kalex) on the exit of the Dani Pedrosa Corner, high-siding and landing heavily on his left hand.

On Saturday, the Liqui Moly Husqvarna IntactGP rider missed Q2 by a matter of millimetres after his best lap in Q1 was scrubbed for a track limits violation, starting his brief race from 19th place.

"I went into turn 6 on my normal line and saw that van den Goorbergh had gone very wide and gone off the track,” Agius explained.

“I already had the corner behind me, but suddenly I just saw this other bike in front of me. I think it was reckless of him that he cut back like that."