Christina Bulpett |
Picture: GeeBee Images
Le Mans’ Parc Fermé was ablaze in red on Saturday afternoon as Jack Miller completed a Ducati Lenovo one-two in MotoGP qualifying.
Miller was just 0.069s behind Pecco Bagnaia in the hunt for pole position with the pair running under the repeatedly broken lap record at the French track.
“It felt unreal this morning to do those laps,” the Australian admitted from the post-qualifying press conference having already beaten the circuit best during FP3. “The grip was there, the way you can use the tyre was impressive, especially here in Le Mans with so many corners where you’re sort of accelerating on angle. The biggest issue is slip and that was nearly non existent, you almost had too much grip.
“This afternoon the lap time definitely was harder to find. I knew, like I did a ‘30.8 this morning, I knew I had that sort of pace in me. I knew what that lap took but I kind of knew if I had a bit of a gauge, let’s say, somebody in front, a tow, it would help and Pecco was a perfect target in the box next to me! You can see when he’s leaving, so it worked out well.
“It was impressive,” he said of his colleague’s performance. We’re all pushing, I mean I did a ‘30.5 but to watch his pole lap in the best seat in the house, was impressive.
“Turn six, he went the whole way through turn six with black line coming off the front tyre, missed the line a little bit and was able to bring it back in. It’s pretty impressive to watch it when it’s like that and at that exact same time, you know, my bike’s doing the exact same sort of thing. So it’s kind of impressive.
“The pace all weekend has been red hot. Everybody’s going so well. To break the lap record that stood for quite some time now, in the amount we have, is impressive and also the race pace, I think it will be obliterated tomorrow if it stays dry.
“It’s an amazing weekend. It’s fantastic to have this many fans back already and I’m sure not many of us will have the best sleep tonight but it’ll be a good day tomorrow.
“We can change a lot in MotoGP. We got a lot of things we can adjust and whatnot but we can’t change the weather,” he said of the unpredictable forecast of northwest France. “There’s no point in stressing about what we can adjust. We’ll just take it as it comes.
“I’m not too stressed if it does rain. If it doesn’t, it’d be better, I mean it’s always a lot less stressful, a dry race.
“I think with the way MotoGP is at the moment, with being able to pass people, having a great qualifying like we had today, makes the job a lot easier on a Sunday. Especially around here, it seems really difficult to pass. You come up on a rider that’s maybe doing a second and a half, two seconds a lap slower and honestly it’s difficult to pass, so if you’re trying to pass someone that’s doing a tenth slower or the same lap time, is gonna be real hard!
“I think it is the way the championship is at the moment,” he continued on the intensely close racing. “We’ve seen a lot of crashes, a lot of guys touching, a lot of contact. That’s the way it is. With so many bikes on such a good level, that’s what you have.
“I had Darryn [Binder] in front and was not easy because you want to control the speed and everything and you try to manage but you want to pass, but to get close enough on the exit without riding out of control is kind of difficult. Then by the time you’re at the braking zone, you haven’t really the slipstream, is not really helping you so it is tough. I’m not complaining today because I’m starting on the front row. So hopefully we get a good start and then I can just roadblock it, and it should be right.”
With rain expected at some point tomorrow, and with Miller the victor last season in the French GP’s flag to flag race, is he hoping for more of the same?
“Definitely not flag to flag!” he answered quickly. “Flag to flag is far too much stress. Pit lane limiter is not really my strong point. I did a couple of practice runs here this year to get it right, no French speeding tickets this year but it’s a lot easier if it’s more clear, wet or dry. But as I said before, we can’t control that, we can only ride the bike.”