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Aussie Watch: Miller’s plea for more, Gardner relishes cameo

Matt Clayton
Monday, 8 July 2024

It was slim pickings for points for the five Aussie riders in action at the Sachsenring, with Jack Miller feeling frustrated and Remy Gardner thankful after Germany.

Jack Miller has called on KTM to raise its development game after another difficult weekend for the Australian at the German Grand Prix, Miller finishing 13th on an afternoon where the leading bike from the Austrian factory finished behind six of the eight Ducatis on the grid.

The 29-year-old was 25.425secs behind race-winner Pecco Bagnaia over 30 laps, while stablemate Pedro Acosta (seventh, 14.746secs adrift) was the closest RC16 to the front in the Grand Prix.


Miller, who finished 11th in Saturday’s Sprint to scrounge three points from the weekend to stay 16th in the world championship standings, feels KTM – who he’ll depart at the end of the season – have been cast adrift in the development race since September last season. 

“We need to develop more, simple as that,” Miller said after he qualified 16th, worst of the four KTM bikes, on Saturday. 

“We’re on the same package, in terms of base stuff, as Misano last year. We need to develop more, we need to work more. Speed, we’re alright, the engine is strong and the aero package is strong. [But] we need more grip, more turning.”

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Miller was joined on the Sachsenring premier-class grid by compatriot Remy Gardner, the 26-year-old deputising at the factory Yamaha team alongside Fabio Quartararo for Alex Rins, who suffered multiple injuries in a first-lap crash at the Dutch TT a week earlier. 

Gardner, who had never ridden the YZR-M1 before the weekend, qualified last in the 22-bike field, and finished 20th (sprint) and 19th (Grand Prix) on a weekend of learning and enjoying the chance to return to the class he left at the end of 2022 with KTM before heading to World Superbikes with Yamaha. 

“The pace until lap 10 was really good,” Gardner said after finishing 50.115secs behind Bagnaia. 

“I was fighting with [Honda’s Johann] Zarco and [Stefan] Bradl, trying hunt down [Honda’s Joan] Mir, and I was in front of Bradl for eight to nine laps, which was good. 

“I didn't know how to manage the tyre drop of the rear tyre over the last 10 laps, but that's all down to experience. Hopefully I gave some good feedback and a different point of view, and hopefully Yamaha can take some positives from that.” 

Elsewhere Australian Moto2™ rider Senna Agius looked on course for his first world championship podium for much of the intermediate-class race at the Sachsenring, but the 19-year-old couldn’t combat excessive rear tyre wear in the final five laps, cascading from fourth to cross the line in 11th place. 

Agius, riding for the home Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP team, was superb on Saturday, coming through Q1 in qualifying to start a brilliant fourth, a significant improvement on his previous career-best of eighth in round four in France. 

The 19-year-old proved his one-lap pace was no outlier early in the 25-lap race, spending the first 15 laps within a second of the lead as he kept several bigger-name rivals behind. 

Agius was fourth on lap 18 as Boscoscuro rider Fermin Aldeguer began to break away at the front, but soon began to fade; from fifth at the start of lap 22, he dropped to 10th by the end of it as his lap time ballooned into the 1min 27secs bracket. 

Agius eventually crossed the line 9.225secs behind the MotoGP-bound Aldeguer, and sits 15th in the championship with 26 points after nine rounds. 

“I was saving the tyre and I honestly thought today was my day,” Agius said after his first race at the Sachsenring. 

“When I saw eight laps to go, I thought we could do this 100 per cent, but we encountered a super sudden drop. I made a mistake into Turn 8, I locked the front … but we have to be happy with that. Second row [in qualifying] and I felt like a front-runner, I was today. I’m leaving Germany proud and happy … not what I wanted, but leaving here with a smile.”

In Moto3™, Australian Joel Kelso finished 11th at the Sachsenring in the 23-lap lightweight-class race, the BOE Motorsports rider tethered to a 12-rider breakaway group in the first three-quarters of the race before losing touch late. 

The 21-year-old started from 15th after his worst qualifying of the season on Saturday, but moved up inside the top 10 on lap four and held station until beginning to fade in the final six laps. 

Kelso finished 6.021secs behind David Alonso (CFMOTO), the Colombian continuing his outstanding Moto3™ season with a sixth victory in nine starts to boost his championship advantage to 58 points. 

"There's daylight at the end of the tunnel," Kelso said before heading home to Australia for a week to see friends and family. 

"We've been going through a hard run of form, and in that race we only missed in one part [of the track]. Sector two was really holding us back, because we couldn't get close enough. But we're slowly getting back to our run of form. I believe we'll get there soon and get back to the front. I'm not happy, but at least there's daylight. Seeing the effort the team is putting in really helped me."

Kelso’s compatriot Jacob Roulstone had his perfect points-scoring start to his rookie season end in Germany, the Tech3 GasGas rider crashing out on lap 14 after being in the thick of the fight with Kelso in the top 10. 

From 17th on the grid, the 19-year-old was up to eighth on lap 10 before contact with Spaniard Angel Piqueras (Honda) two laps later dropped him to 16th as he ran off track, Roulstone losing 17 seconds. 

Roulstone then crashed at the high-speed Turn 11 two laps later, ending his run of eight points-scoring finishes to begin his world championship career. 

“Very, very disappointed,” Roulstone said.

“I felt so comfortable on the bike, I’d finally figured out everything through the first sector, we had a good pace, we were good with the tyres.

“I had this incident, somehow I saved it, but then it was over for us and I crashed while trying to get back into rhythm. Not the result I wanted, but good to gain experience with the leading group.”

After nine rounds, Kelso (55 points) sits in 10th place in the standings, while Roulstone (44 points) is 12th.