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First-lap Sachsenring scare upset Miller's mojo

Monday, 19 June 2023

A massive moment at Turn 11 on the first lap in Germany after he'd aced the start gave Jack Miller plenty to ponder before he recovered to snare sixth at the Sachsenring.

Jack Miller was happy to fly the flag for the rest of the MotoGP™ grid against a tidal wave of Ducati dominance at the German Grand Prix on Sunday, and was thankful to finish sixth in the 30-lap race after an opening-lap scare that dented his confidence.

The KTM rider, as he'd done in the Saturday Sprint Race where he finished third, made a blistering start from third on the grid to lead into the first corner, but was caught out by the Sachsenring's signature Turn 11 on the first lap, a downhill right-hander that comes after seven consecutive left-hand turns at the tight, twisty circuit.


Miller had struggled at Turn 11 on Saturday, and admitted he "nearly became a statistic" on Sunday after having to save a sideways moment with the pack breathing down his neck.

"I said yesterday after the Sprint that I needed to sort out the Waterfall (Turn 11) and we tried a different sort of approach, the will was definitely there," he said.

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"But there was a bit too much commitment there on the first lap and I nearly became a statistic … it was pretty close as I lost the rear-end, and as it came back the front started going. I was able to regroup, but it definitely shook me a little and I was definitely approaching that corner a little bit more carefully for the next 5-10 laps, just building into it.

"It was my only real moment throughout the race, I rode within my limits after that and then really tried to push hard at the end, but it was too little, too late."

Miller fell to seventh after 10 laps, but regrouped to up his pace in the final 10 laps, falling just two-tenths of a second shy of Luca Marini's Ducati in fifth after reeling in the Mooney VR46 rider in the closing stages.

"We just need to find that little bit more raw speed at the beginning of the race without destroying tyres; our pace isn't bad, it's consistent, but it's not fantastic at the beginning of the races," he said.

"The other boys were able to eke out a tenth (of a second) here and there, that builds up over the first half of the race. We stayed very stable for much of the race punching out very similar lap times, and I started coming back towards (Luca) Marini and (Marco) Bezzecchi there towards the end."

With KTM teammate Brad Binder crashing out of third place with 11 laps left, Miller was the only non-Ducati finisher inside the top nine riders, with all eight Ducatis on the grid finishing inside the top 10. With five years of riding for Ducati before his move to KTM this season, Miller sees Ducati's current dominance as motivation, rather than something to bemoan.

"There's only eight Ducatis on the grid and they're all there, so that's the challenge we've got at the moment," he said.

"At least Brad and I are approaching it with the right mindset. There's no point complaining about it, all we can do it try to make our bike better than theirs. The Ducati wasn't always the bike to be on, they started from some rocky ground, so there's no reason why we can't get the KTM there and beyond.

"We're still very early on in this project, so to be the only ones there challenging these Ducatis is bloody good."

Jack's German Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Qualified: 3rd
  • Sprint (15 laps): 3rd
  • Grand Prix (30 laps): 6th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 21.515secs (7th), lap 8
  • Points this event: 17
  • Points this season: 79 (7th in world championship)