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Aussie Watch: Miller’s ‘difficult moment’, season-best for Agius

Matt Clayton
Monday, 13 May 2024

Jack Miller’s troubled second season for KTM endured with a second-straight non-finish, while Senna Agius was the pick of the Aussies in the feeder classes on a tough Sunday in France.

Jack Miller’s season-long woes continued with another non-finish in Sunday’s French Grand Prix, the Australian failing to score for the third time in five Grands Prix this season after crashing out of 12th place with 11 laps remaining.

The KTM rider, who qualified 11th and took home two world championship points in Saturday’s Sprint after a strong start elevated him to eighth, didn’t get the same getaway in Sunday’s 27-lap Grand Prix, finishing the first lap in the same place he started.


Teammate Brad Binder, who had qualified last, was past the 29-year-old by lap seven, and Miller wasn’t able to make it back inside the top 10 before falling in the final sector of the Le Mans circuit on lap 17.

“This morning felt good, this afternoon didn’t feel so great,” Miller said after he’d finished second to Pedro Acosta in Sunday morning’s pre-race warm-up session.

“I’m trying to understand what the difference is in the afternoons – it was the same again yesterday. I struggled to do any 31s [lap times of 1min 31secs] in the morning on used tyres, I felt mega and was able to run 31s consistently by myself, but come race time I’m really struggling to run the pace.”

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Miller said he “didn’t do anything different” before his crash ended his afternoon early.

“Braked in the same spot, I was one kilometre an hour faster than the lap before but not the fastest I’ve gone in there, but she locked. A real head-scratcher, just trying to understand what we can do differently to turn the ship around. It’s a difficult moment, for sure.”

The non-finish saw Miller leave Le Mans in 13th place in the championship standings with 24 points after five rounds.

It was a weekend of progress in France for Australia’s Moto2™ rider Senna Agius, the 18-year-old qualifying inside the top 10 for the first time in his world championship career and finishing a season-best 13th for Liqui Moly Husqvarna IntactGP.

The Kalex rider came through Q1 to qualify a stunning eighth on Saturday, a late crash in Q2 failing to deny Agius a third-row start for the first time. It got better soon after the lights went out for Sunday’s 22-lap race, too; Agius sprung to sixth on the first lap, before more experienced rivals on better machinery methodically shuffled him back through the field.

The teenager had a finishing kick, passing teammate Darryn Binder on the final lap to finish 18.191secs behind race-winner Sergio Garcia (Boscoscuro).

"Things went well until about halfway through the race, but then I made a mistake and had to push hard to attack again in the last 10 laps and get as far forward as possible,” said Agius, who finished round five in 19th place in the intermediate-class standings.

“We took home three points, but we went in the wrong direction for the race. I was quite fast this weekend, but I was also missing something at a crucial point, and we only realised that after 22 laps!”

In Moto3™, it was a subdued Sunday at Le Mans for Aussie duo Jacob Roulstone and Joel Kelso, the compatriots finishing 12th and 13th respectively and just three-tenths of a second apart after spending the majority of the 20 laps in close proximity.

Roulstone, the GasGas Tech3 rookie, gained three places from 11th on the grid on the opening lap before dropping to 10th on lap six. The 19-year-old improved to seventh on lap 12, but a lap in the 1min 43secs bracket on the next tour dropped him to 13th, and he crossed the line seven laps later 6.903secs behind race-winner, Colombia’s David Alonso (CFMOTO).

"Quite happy with our weekend overall, even if I’m a bit disappointed with how the race finished,” Roulstone said after dropping to 13th place in the world championship standings with 27 points.

“We learnt a lot and I felt good all race. We took a good start, the first laps were decent, but later I got pushed by another rider and lost some ground."

Similarly, Kelso’s race went backwards the longer it went, the BOE Motorsports rider dropping out of the top 10 to 13th on lap 11 after being barged by Honda rider Adrian Fernandez at the penultimate corner.

Kelso, who started from seventh place, fell out of the points on lap 12. The KTM rider then gained three places before the chequered flag when a trio of rivals dropped out to finish 0.314secs behind Roulstone for his worst finish of the season to date, but retained fifth place in the standings with 42 points.

"A rider made contact with me, and that was the end of it,” said Kelso, who battled sickness over the French GP weekend and was on his back foot after a crash in Friday practice.

“We lost four, five seconds that lap. One rider who was doing antics already decided to hit me out – it destroyed my race. I don't think I would have made it to the podium, but I think I could have stayed with that top eight. Instead we walk away with 13th, so nothing impressive."