In the last two Australian MotoGP™ races Jack Miller has led the field before running into tyre problems. On Sunday he rewrote the script to take a brilliant third place in the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2019 – and it was all down to tyres.
While other riders see-sawed their way up and down the field as their grip came and went, Miller and his Pramac Ducati sat back in the field at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and bided his time, cashing in over the final laps.
The result was that after Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, Aprilia’s Andrea Iannone and Suzuki’s Alex Rins ran away at the start, Miller picked his way through to fourth, which became a podium finish when Maverick Vinales crashed out of second place on the final lap.
“You never like seeing anybody crash, especially with only two corners to go,” said Miller, who ran the race with the hardest rear tyre Michelin brought to the track.
“I saw the big boys putting their soft tyres on, on the grid, and I thought, ‘Oh, they are pretty keen’. In the majority of the dry track time that I have had this weekend, I was able to do some running on the soft tyre, and my consumption was far too high.
“So I was thinking, ‘these guys have got something a lot more than I have, in terms of throttle control’.
“I thought that fourth was the best that I can do. I saw that Danilo (Petrucci) had his big crash right at the start, and I was already nervous, because I had the hard tyre in too. I had a moment in Turn 2, I got wide on the gas and I lost a few positions.
“Step by step, Valentino went past me and I thought he was bit keen, then he started coming back towards me. The Aprilias went past and they came back, then Rins for about 10 laps and then he started coming back.”
The Townsville rider thought that he would be the middle man in a Ducati train until the end of the race, with his teammate Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia behind him and Ducati Corse works rider Andrea Dovizioso immediately ahead.
“I had Dovi in front of me, and I thought that we would just cruise to the end,” Miller said.
“Then with about 10 laps to go Pecco came past, and he was into it! That was extra motivation for me – you don’t want to finish behind your teammate, and not here at Phillip Island. I was able to get past him, and then Dovi got past (Bagnaia) and passed me.
“I got a look at his rear tyre and I knew that was gone, he nearly had a highside into Turn 2.”
Miller got past the Italian on the final lap and next thing, he was standing on the podium next to race winner Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow.