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Aussie Watch: Miller sinks, Kelso and Roulstone shine

Matt Clayton
Monday, 15 April 2024

Jack Miller saw a superb start slip away with tyre troubles in Texas, while Joel Kelso and Jacob Roulstone enjoyed top-10 Moto3™ results after crazy races at COTA.

Jack Miller bemoaned an “absolutely atrocious” rear tyre after a brilliant start to Sunday’s Grand Prix of the Americas evaporated in Austin, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider sinking from third on lap one to a 13th-place finish after 20 laps at the Circuit of the Americas.

From 11th on the grid, Miller moved forwards after a superb getaway around the outside into Turn 1 to finish seventh in Saturday’s 10-lap Sprint, and more looked possible on Sunday after he stormed to third on the first lap.


Contact with Gresini Ducati rider Marc Marquez on the second lap saw him re-passed by Marquez and reigning MotoGP™ world champion Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati), but the Australian settled into fifth place before his race began to unravel on lap eight, when a lap half a second slower than anything he’d done previously saw him fall to seventh place.

Miller was out of the top 10 six laps later, and was overtaken by Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo on the final lap to finish 24.011secs adrift of race-winner Maverick Vinales (Aprilia).

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“The first seven laps the bike was working really well, better than yesterday, up until it wasn’t,” Miller explained.

“On lap seven I ran into some big issues, off-gas on the left-hand side things started coming around, and continued to get worse. It was basically unrideable on the left-hand side. I couldn’t carry any corner speed going in, couldn’t carry any exit speed going out, the thing was pumping like mad.

“The tyre looks absolutely atrocious. It was a really strange situation, I was in survival mode by the end. The last 13 laps I was trying to hold position and brake as late as possible, to try to make it as hard as possible for the other boys to come past.”

In Moto3™, Australians Joel Kelso and Jacob Roulstone finished seventh and eighth respectively after both had action-packed Sundays at COTA, Kelso improving to third in the world championship standings after a weekend that started chaotically and barely let up.

The 20-year-old arrived in the US a day later than planned after a paperwork mix-up, and qualified fifth at a track he’d only raced at once before, in 2022 when he finished in 18th place.

The BOE Motorsports rider was elevated one place on the grid after Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Jose Antonio Rueda missed the race with appendicitis after qualifying second, and Kelso finished the first lap in 10th after clashing with Roulstone’s Red Bull GasGas Tech3 teammate Dani Holgado at Turn 8 and running off track.

Kelso would later crash at Turn 1 with five laps to go, but was able to remount in 10th place and finish seventh, not losing a position after a three-second post-race penalty was assessed for irresponsible riding.

“That was crazy!” Kelso said after finishing 16.963secs behind dominant victor David Alonso of Colombia, the CFMOTO rider who steered clear of the bedlam behind to win by over five seconds.

“At the start I made a mistake and the rear came around, and it made me wobble and I had to go into the side of Holgado. It was completely my fault, and luckily he didn’t crash. I apologised to him for the mistake.

“I settled down again but the front (tyre), after I already attacked so much, I think I destroyed it as I was smashing the brakes to pass people. Finally finishing P7, so overall I’m happy. We still did good points and we’re P3 in the championship, which is good. This was one track I didn’t think I’d be this strong at.”

Roulstone’s weekend was equally dramatic, the rookie coming through Q1 to qualify a career-best sixth, which became a fifth-place start with Rueda’s absence. He finished lap one in 15th place after having to take avoiding action for a first-lap crash in the pack, served a long-lap penalty for riding slowly on the racing line in qualifying on lap three to drop to 16th, and then steadily moved forwards from there, finishing 2.5secs behind Kelso and 19.126secs from the winner.

“We have to be happy with that,” Roulstone said.

“It was probably one of the most chaotic first laps I’ve experienced, but we managed to stay focused, even after losing a bit of ground following the long lap which I did quite well.”

In Moto2™, Australian Senna Agius finished 17th and 19.460secs behind Spanish race-winner Sergio Garcia (Boscoscuro), missing out on the final world championship point by 1.5secs on his maiden visit to the Circuit of the Americas.

The 19-year-old, riding for the Luqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP team, qualified 22nd on a “really unique” track that he admitted was difficult to get to grips with, and put the weekend down as a learning experience.

"I had a not too bad start and the first few laps, when I felt confident, were also good,” he said.

“I was able to catch up well until I was in contention for the points. In this race I learned the most in the final laps and I think we’re knocking on the door to make a big step soon.”