Jack Miller: The win that got away
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A DNF at Le Mans leaves MotoGP's Jack Miller with his gaze firmly fixed on Portugal.
Well ... what can I say about that? I felt like that was maybe a win that got away ... I'd done everything more or less how I wanted it to, was in position to do something in the final seven laps, and then we had a mechanical. It's pretty tough to swallow after a couple of races back at Misano when I had Fabio's (Quartararo) tear-off get stuck in the airbox and ended that race. Just unbelievably bad luck.
We had an issue with the engine that sprung up in the warm-up, so we swapped to the second bike for the race. But then when it rained just before the start, we had to switch back to the original bike with the wet set-up, we didn't have time to fix anything, so we just had to cross our fingers. And then the inevitable happened and it died on me. Just one of those days ...
It was a day to score big points too – I spent most of the race chasing Danilo (Petrucci) and 'Dovi' (Andrea Dovizioso), and then (Alex) Rins joined in later on. The only one of those ahead of me in the championship was ‘Dovi’ – Fabio was struggling, so was (Joan) Mir, Maverick (Vinales) too. Luckily I didn't drop too many points to Fabio and I only lost one place in the championship so with five races left I'm still close enough to maybe do something with these races being so unpredictable ... but we can't afford another one like this the rest of the way. Two no-scores from the last two times I've been on the front row, neither of them anything to do with me ... yeah, it sucks.
I've always liked Le Mans for some reason – I'd finished fourth here the last two years and I had a victory here back in the Moto3 days – I'd been in the podium battle but never actually made it. Today was one that definitely got away.
I don't want to turn this into a weather report each week but it is becoming a factor now in October in Europe – normally we're in Japan, Malaysia and home at the Island this month but here we are in Le Mans, we have Valencia coming up, it's not normal for us to be racing on these sorts of conditions in Europe so it's been an adjustment.
The tracks are so cold even when they're dry that they're telling you to be cautious but I find that the harder I push – with some margin of course – but the harder I push straight away, the safer I find it probably is because you get temperature into the tyres straight away. If you go out and you wobble around or you're not 100 per cent convinced, that's when I feel it's more dangerous. There's no real explanation why I go well in those, let's call them sketchy, conditions – it's not just one thing. Bit of feel, bit of courage, bit of disconnect the brain most probably. We have a lot of cold races coming up, so I think that's going to be pretty important to try to get that right for the rest of the season.
Saying that, it doesn't work every time … it can definitely bite you on the bum and that's what happened to me on Saturday in FP3, you guys probably all saw it. That's the second big highside I've had in three race weekends, so I'm getting a little bit over those. My neck and back were a bit stiff on Saturday night and I probably took a few years off my life but other than that I was alright – I was more thinking about Sunday, because this looked like being the best chance we had for a win since, say, Austria.
I've always liked Le Mans for some reason – I'd finished fourth here the last two years and I had a victory here back in the Moto3 days – so I've always felt strong here. I'd been in the podium battle but never actually made it – still haven't. So today was one that definitely got away.
We've got Aragon next Sunday (and the one after that too), but some of us went to Portugal before we got to France to check out the circuit where we'll do the last race in a few weeks. I'd actually never even ridden anything in Portugal before, so to go there, a brand-new track for me ... it's always fun learning a new track, especially a place like that with so many elevation changes and so many corners.
I can see why it gets called a rollercoaster, I don't reckon there's a corner on it that isn't blind so I was definitely a little lost the first few laps, wondering exactly where on the track I was! Even just getting out to do some extra riding on the superbike was fun, because the compact season we've had means it's been hard to do much outside of a race weekend.
So Portugal is going to be a lot of fun when we go back there, that's for sure. Hopefully we can get the Ducati to work there – there's a lot of tight corners which don't usually suit our bike, but we'll give it a good crack anyway.
Jack was speaking with MotoGP writer Matthew Clayton.
This content originally appeared on jackmiller43.com.au and has been reproduced with permission.