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Aussie Watch: Miller ‘makes headway’, Agius impresses

Matt Clayton
Monday, 1 July 2024

Jack Miller made it back into the points in a Grand Prix after a long drought, while Senna Agius again showed signs of genuine progress after a starring Saturday showing in Assen.

A significant set-up change to Jack Miller’s KTM during the Dutch TT weekend has paid dividends for the Australian, after Miller took his first Grand Prix points in five Sundays with 11th place at Assen on Sunday.

Miller, who hadn’t scored in a Grand Prix since round three at the Circuit of the Americas, finished 24.004secs behind dominant race-winner Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) on Sunday after missing out on points in the sprint, where he finished 13th.


A significant change to his set-up, one that provided him with a better front-end feeling, helped build his confidence and provide a pathway to follow for future races. 

“It was a better showing today than yesterday … a better showing than in a while, to be honest,” Miller said. 

“We made a big change this morning, the bike seemed to be working pretty well from the warm-up, and I was able to translate that into a decent start to the race, and then run the pace. I was missing a little bit in the early stages especially through Turns 6-7, just getting the confidence there, but later on in the race when the boys weren’t gaining as much as there I was able to limit the damage and catch back in my stronger points. 

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“It’s good to get a decent result on the board and have a better feeling with the front end [of the bike] and make some headway in terms of set-up. 

“From yesterday to today was a big improvement for us, in terms of me and the way I’m riding and how the front-end was feeling … where I could push, and where I couldn’t.”

Miller jumped to 10th on the opening lap from 13th on the grid, and spent the majority of the race in 12th before being gifted a place by Spanish rookie Pedro Acosta crashing out on the final lap. 

The Australian said Bagnaia’s race pace – the reigning world champion was more than half a minute faster than he was when he won at Assen 12 months ago – was as shocking as it was impressive.

“The pace was again ridiculously fast today,” he said.

“On the big screen coming out of Turn 5, it popped up [Bagnaia’s] picture and I thought I was seeing things from the corner of my eye, but I’m sure it said [1min] 31-something … I was just doing 32s and I was really happy with myself. I saw that and it was a bit demoralising. 

“It’s the way it goes. The sport is at an incredible peak, these athletes are riding incredibly well, and we’re playing the chasing game, that’s for certain.”

Of the other Aussies in action at Assen, Moto2™ rider Senna Agius was denied a second top-10 result of his first full season in the intermediate class after the chequered flag, a one-place position drop for a track limits violation demoting him to 11th for the Liqui Moly Husqvarna IntactGP team. 

On his first visit to Assen, Agius transformed his weekend with an outstanding display in qualifying on Saturday after not doing better than 20th place across three practice sessions. Advancing from Q1, Agius qualified 11th and on the fourth row, and was never outside of the top 10 after six of the 22 laps in Sunday’s race after Spanish pair Albert Arenas and Aron Canet both crashed out in separate incidents ahead of him.

From there, Agius cooly held station and crossed the line 0.041secs ahead of Kalex rider Celestino Vietti, but was assessed his penalty after the flag to fall behind the Italian to 11th, the race won by Japanese rider Ai Ogura (Boscoscuro). 

“For me it’s a super positive race,” Agius said.

“At the end it was a bit like a Moto3 race going into the last lap and I came out on the unlucky side of the chicane, touched the green [for track limits] and lost a position, so a bit bittersweet to not be in the top 10. But it’s another good result for us, a good bounce-back after a difficult weekend in Italy.”

Agius improves to 16th place in the standings with 21 points after eight rounds.

In Moto3™, Australian duo Joel Kelso and Jacob Roulstone both ended up outside of the top 10 in the same race for just the second time this season, Kelso finishing 12th and Roulstone 14th over 20 laps. 

Riding for BOE Motorsports, Kelso featured inside the top 10 in all three practice sessions before qualifying 14th, the equal second-worst return of his season. The 21-year-old hung with the front group until the last five laps, fading late to finish 9.420secs adrift of Ivan Ortola (KTM), who mugged Dutch home hero Collin Veijer (Husqvarna) at the final corner to win by 0.012secs. 

"Definitely not satisfied," Kelso said of his result. 

"We were there [with the front group] ... but I was just on the limit the whole race. Four laps to go, I had a moment and lost two seconds, and the group was already gone so I just wanted to bring it home. I didn't have any more to give in that group. If I pushed any extra, I would have thrown it down the road."

Roulstone, meanwhile, laboured to the worst result of his rookie season, finishing 27.868secs behind the winner. Riding for Tech3 GasGas, the 19-year-old failed to make Q2 and lined up in a season-worst 20th on the grid, advancing into the points for the first time on lap eight and eventually muscling his way past Joel Esteban (CFMOTO) on the penultimate lap to claim 14th. 

"It was a challenging weekend for sure, but satisfied to end it in the points,” Roulstone said.

“The start was a bit tricky, but quickly I got my head down into a good pace and gained a few positions. I lost contact with the group I was in, so I was at the front of the group, not feeling too confident with my pace, so I just focused on trying to stay at the front of that group."

After eight of 20 rounds, Kelso falls two places to ninth in the championship with 50 points, while Roulstone has 44 points in his rookie campaign to drop one spot to 11th.