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'We made a step': Miller happy with 'headway' in Spain

Monday, 4 September 2023

After a difficult run to 16th in the Catalunya Sprint, Jack Miller finished eighth in Sunday's Grand Prix in Barcelona after his KTM team turned his bike "upside down and inside out."

Jack Miller has praised and apologised to his KTM team for "chasing our butts" in an attempt to reverse his flagging form, the Australian happy with the progress he made on Sunday to finish eighth in the Grand Prix of Catalunya.

Coming to Barcelona after finishing just 15th in Austria last time out, Saturday in Spain was even worse for Miller, missing Q2 for just the second time this year and finishing the 12-lap Sprint race in 16th place and 16 seconds behind race-winner Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) after just 12 laps.


The Australian said his crew turned his bike "upside down and inside out" on Saturday night to try to unlock a solution to his woes on the notoriously low-grip Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya layout, and Miller used a superb first lap where he gained six places and a healthy dose of confidence to finish eighth and, more importantly, finish 10 seconds off the win in a race twice as long as Saturday's Sprint.

"I apologised to the mechanics and thanked them, because the last two weekends we've been chasing our butts a little bit trying to find something to work in these really low-grip conditions," Miller said.

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"They've been working their butts off to try and sort something out to get me comfortable and so I can carry some speed, save the tyres … we turned the bike upside down and inside out last night, made a massive change.

"I felt like I wobbled around for the first six laps of the race, but I felt immediately that I could get a bit more feedback and was able to, step by step, push it a little bit more. It felt a lot more normal, and as the race went on I felt more comfortable and knew where I could push, and where I couldn't. I'm just happy to come out of here with a good feeling.

"I'm happy with the result because we made some headway, probably the first headway we've made in a couple of weeks. I was happy to be closer to the guys after the main race than we were in the Sprint, so that's always nice. We've made a big step today."

From 12th on the grid, Miller was right in the middle of the pack that scattered when Ducati's Enea Bastianini took out four riders at the first corner at the original race start, and two corners later when Bastianini's teammate and reigning world champion Pecco Bagnaia high-sided coming out of Turn 2, Miller's teammate Brad Binder running over Bagnaia's leg as the Italian lay prone across the track.

Miller said he took evasive action when he saw that Bastianini had "sent it in" at the first corner, adding the Barcelona track layout and the long run from the start to the first turn meant accidents were hard to avoid.

"If you look at the history books, there's always a big one in Barcelona," he said.

"It's such a big drag to the first corner that you can make up a lot of positions, or you can lose a lot of positions in that first chicane. We're doing upwards of 250km/h into Turn 1 – you put 22 bikes together, that's a lot of bikes going down to a second-gear corner.

"Bastianini sent it in from a long way back, and as soon as I saw the rear wheel start to hop as he went towards the apex of the corner I thought 'this is not going to be good', so I pulled myself back a little bit. Sure enough, in front of me she all went down, it was dominoes at Turn 1.

"I was just trying to avoid Pecco's bike, Brad unfortunately ran over Pecco's leg … it was definitely chaotic. You never want to see something like that, especially when you're in front of 22 guys. It's one of the biggest high-sides I've seen for a long time."

Jack Miller at the Catalunya Motorcycle Grand Prix

Jack's Catalunya Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Qualified: 13th (started 12th after Bastianini penalty for impeding)
  • Sprint (12 laps): 16th
  • Grand Prix (23 laps): 8th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 40.879secs (8th), lap 6
  • Points this event: 8
  • Points this season: 104 (9th in world championship)