Jack Miller was left scratching his head after a Thailand Grand Prix that started on the back foot and rapidly unravelled, the Australian finishing the weekend without points after coming home 16th in Sunday’s 26-lap race in Buriram.
The KTM rider’s weekend began to wobble on Friday afternoon, when his final push lap in practice saw him come across Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro at Turn 4 and slide outside of the top 10, leaving him having to come through Q1.
Saturday’s qualifying left him 15th on the grid, and he was the only rider in the 21-bike field to use the hard-compound Michelin rear tyre for the 13-lap Sprint, which saw him rise to 10th but miss out on the points by one position.
Sunday was a similar story, Miller never running higher than 14th place and finishing 17.460secs adrift of race-winner Jorge Martin (Ducati), and 2.3secs behind Raul Fernandez’s Aprilia for the last world championship point.
“Disappointed, to say the least,” Miller said, after losing ninth place in the championship standings to Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo (fifth), who he beat in the Sprint but finished 13 seconds behind on Sunday.
“That was not great, no-one’s ever stoked with 16th. I didn’t make any mistakes really, I just didn’t have the pace.
“I was just lacking drive, I wasn’t able to get the thing off Turn 1, Turn 3 … just losing a lot of time in the first two sectors. The pace was decent in the Sprint, I used the same (sets of) tyres I used in the Sprint in the Grand Prix and couldn’t even get close in terms of lap time, so I need to understand what was going on there.”
Miller said the Michelin casing used this weekend has been hard for him to master all season, pointing to races in Austria (15th) and India (14th) where he struggled in a similar fashion.
“Every time we have this (tyre) casing in, I seem to suffer more than the other tyres that we bring – Austria, India and now here,” he said.
“I’m not really able to get it to work, or understand it very well. It’s a bit of a head-scratcher. I tried different lean angles, picking the bike up earlier, short-shifting … to not even bring home a point this weekend is disappointing.”
Miller’s struggles made for an unflattering comparison with teammate Brad Binder, the South African finishing second on the road to Martin in both the Sprint and Grand Prix before being demoted one place in Sunday’s race for a track limits violation on the last lap.
“Quite clearly the bike’s able to work with these tyres, Brad did a fantastic job all weekend and showed the KTM way,” Miller said.
“We need to work harder, and we’ll come back stronger in Malaysia.”
Jack's Thailand Grand Prix by the numbers
- Qualified: 15th
- Sprint (13 laps): 10th
- Grand Prix (27 laps): 16th
- Fastest lap: 1min 31.455secs (19th), lap 10
- Points this event: 0
- Points this season: 144 (10th in world championship)