MotoGP Le Mans: Miller ‘stoked, Enea rode a perfect race’


Picture: GeeBee Images

Jack Miller enjoyed his best result of the season so far at Le Mans after securing second place in the FrenchGP on Sunday.

While not quite the fairytale all-Ducati podium it looked to be gearing up for, after the Lenovo rider’s teammate Pecco Bagnaia crashed out having led for 17 laps, Miller trailed Gresini Racing’s Enea Bastianini home for an impressive one-two.

“We’re putting in a solid year,” Miller confirmed after the podium, and shoey, celebrations. “It’s just, okay, the crash in Portimao wasn’t ideal, the bike shitting itself in Qatar wasn’t ideal but that’s racing. We have issues like that, but we’re only a third of the way through the year.

“We’re putting together a solid year I think, especially with how much up and down this year is going to be. We just got to keep working away at it.

“Today, I took a gamble with that P front, with that soft front tyre, but it was just my gut feeling, my gut instinct. Every time I put the medium in this weekend, I crashed and was about the same time, four laps in. Just couldn’t get the thing to work and then it would disappear on me. It felt mega leaving the box and first two laps, and then I’d get no feeling or no warning of I was even close to crashing. So with the P, with the soft front tyre I was getting a lot of good feedback off it. Okay, it’s not as stable, you get a lot more understeer, a lot more locking whatever, but I can read where I was on the tyre and I can understand okay, if I can push or not. And that’s half the thing. So yeah, we took a gamble with that but I think it paid off today.

“Pecco wanted to push the pace early on,” he continued of his teammate’s initial dominance. “I was just gonna stick to my pace the whole way through the race and that’s what I did. Pecco wanted to come through so I sort of allowed him through. He went a little bit quicker the first maybe lap, but then he sort of plateaued as well. He was having some moments on the front, on the right hand side especially.

“When Rins come through at turn one I didn’t really understand what was happening. I just changed directions from like two to three and I just, right at that point, I saw the Suzuki appear. I didn’t know what was happening. To be honest, I got scared, but I understood that Alex was crashing at that point because he was doing everything he could to slow the thing down so I have to say a massive thanks to him for sacrificing that in order to keep everyone else safe.

“Yeah then Enea come through, he was moving!” Miller continued on the eventual victor. “He’s always really good on the tyre and he was really driving off all the corners pretty well. I felt pretty good about ten to go. I sort of started coming back towards them. I had Aleix on my butt, but I was able to find out basically how to ride around my issues that I was having with the P and take the most out of my bike and I actually started coming back towards them but I had nothing for him today.

“He was on fire. Pecco was really pushing to try and stay with him and unfortunately it cost him. Obviously he was pushing a bit hard there in the last sector and threw it away so I’m sorry for him, he could have made it a Ducati one-two-three but wasn’t to be today.

“Solid points in the championship. Another solid day, another solid weekend. That’s all we need to keep doing is just keep plugging away at it.

While Miller is no stranger to Bastianini bettering him in the closing stages, he had another reoccurring drama closing in from behind too.

“I had deja vu of last weekend to be honest because I had Aleix Espargaro and [Marc] Marquez on the pitboard there for a way of the race too. So I was just trying to keep my head down, make no mistakes and as I said just ride to my lap time, that’s all I could do.

“This little bastard has done it more than twice I can tell you, he’s done it plenty of times and he’s always strong at the end of the race. He’s got good drive. He’s good on the tyres and he worked it well today. He rode a perfect race I think. He didn’t make any mistakes. He started firing it in a little bit deep, I seen him towards the end of the race there at turn eight getting quite close to the kerb and you can sort of see when somebody does that because their body goes a bit central. I thought he might be starting to struggle finally on the front, meanwhile, I’ve been struggling for about 12 laps!

“I did my best lap pretty late in the race but no, I was able to pull it out when I needed to. 20 points is unreal, stoked for myself, stoked for the team and it’s a good day!”

With ‘silly season’ in full swing, and Bagnaia secure at the factory team for at least another term, Miller’s place at Ducati is repeatedly called into question. None more so than with another young Italian mounting the rostrum in some style.

“There’s a lot of blokes out there talking a lot of rubbish,” The Australian answered. “We’re a third of the way through the season. I got a whole season left in these colours at least and I’m looking forward to putting as many podiums and hopefully another victory or two against my name before I either get out of these or stay in them, either way.

“I don’t know what you want me to say,” he continued. I mean, put two and two together. He’s won three races this year, he’s doing a fantastic job. He’s Italian. Make sense doesn’t it?”

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