When the crowd at the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit roared their approval that Jack Miller had finished the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2019 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit MotoGP™ on the podium, they might have been forgiven for failing to notice something important – his teammate was right behind him.
Over the final laps of the 27-lap race, Pramac Racing MotoGP™ rookie Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia was among the fastest riders on the track. But his speed was not a negative for Miller – in fact, the Australian might have settled for a safe fifth place behind Ducati Corse’s Andrea Dovizioso, had not Bagnaia lit the afterburners and passed both of them.
In the last two laps, Miller leapt into action, passed both of them and did his best to get away. He did, a little but not much – so much so that as he took the chequered flag in third place, Bagnaia was only 0.55 seconds behind him in fourth place.
“I can’t be disappointed that I was so close from finishing on the podium, I am very happy with this result,” said Pecco, whose previous best result was seventh place in Austria.
“It was a solid weekend from start to finish, we made the right choice of tyres and we worked well as a team all weekend. This result fills me with satisfaction and I think it is an important step forward. We will be coming into Malaysia with a lot of confidence and I am looking forward to it.”
Much has been expected of Bagnaia since he graduated to the top level after dominating Moto2™ last year. He took eight wins on the way to the 2018 title, but the transition to MotoGP™ racing has tested him.
While he remains in 15th place in the championship, there is a lot of work to be done over the remaining races in the teams’ points. Pramac Racing is currently in seventh place with 191 points.
With that team’s new rider Johann Zarco getting to grips with his new-to-him Honda, Miller and Bagnaia have a great chance to gain ground at Sepang this weekend and, perhaps, give a scare to some of the other big names in MotoGP™ racing.