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Miller flat after Le Mans falls leave him pointless in France

Monday, 15 May 2023

Jack Miller's weekend at Le Mans started with a bang but ended in a whimper, after back-to-back crashes scuppered any chance of big points in France.

A despondent Jack Miller has been left to lament a French Grand Prix weekend that became "a bit of a bummer" after beginning with so much promise, the Australian crashing out of both races at Le Mans to nosedive four places in the MotoGP™ world championship standings.

The 28-year-old, a winner at Le Mans in 2021 and second last year for Ducati, kicked off the landmark 1000th world championship Grand Prix by topping the timesheets in both Friday practice sessions, and qualified fourth on Saturday, KTM's best-ever starting spot at the fabled French track.


That optimism lasted all of two laps in Saturday's 13-lap sprint race after Miller crashed from third place, while an early-race charge to the lead on Sunday unravelled when excessive tyre wear saw him drop from first place on lap 11 to seventh on lap 25, when he crashed with three laps left.

"Obviously that's not the way we wanted to end this first part of the championship," Miller said.

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"I'm really disappointed for myself and the team, they've been doing a fantastic job and the bike was amazing all weekend. For us to come away from this with no points is a bit of a bummer.

"I felt like I had decent pace, but when the other boys came past it seemed like they were able to knock it up a gear … as the race went on I was fading a little bit, just trying not to use the left-hand side of the (soft-compound) tyre.

"I felt like I had a little bit more (pace) there at the end and had just done my personal best (lap), but I used too much kerb on the inside of Turn 4. I cut (the corner) a little bit too much and the front sort of bounced, and that was all she wrote."

Miller's Sunday woes replicated an early exit in Saturday's sprint race, where he admitted his lack of experience with KTM saw him question his instincts and elect to run the medium-compound front Michelin tyre.

"I'd done 27 laps in the morning practice with the soft front and had raced it here last year too (with Ducati), but we went with the medium front with the temperature coming up, and I wasn't really that comfortable from the get-go," he explained.

"Still being new to KTM, listening to the input of Michelin … you pick up information from everywhere to build your intel going into the race, but that was one of those things that happens when you're still new to somewhere and you don't know your own way or trust your own way 120 per cent. I listened maybe more to some of the information that was around me than I should have."

Miller's non-score in France – allied to strong weekends from Pramac Ducati pair Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco in particular – sees the Australian drop from fourth to eighth place in a tightly-packed championship table headed by former Ducati teammate Pecco Bagnaia (another non-finisher on Sunday), who leads Le Mans feature race winner Marco Bezzecchi by one point ahead of the next Grand Prix at Mugello in Italy (June 9-11).

Jack's French Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Qualified: 4th
  • Sprint (13 laps): DNF (crash, lap 2)
  • Grand Prix (27 laps): DNF (crash, lap 25)
  • Fastest lap: 1min 32.350secs (9th), lap 24
  • Points this event: 0
  • Points this season: 49 (8th in world championship)