After finishing 10th on the grid at the Grand Prix of the Americas on Saturday, Ducati’s Jack Miller is “sick” of his MotoGP qualifying being hampered by troubles with Michelin’s soft rear tyre.
Miller dominated the field by nearly six tenths in FP3 at COTA on Saturday morning, putting him in a strong position to win pole for the first time this season.
Miller could only improve by three tenths on his best Q2 lap on a new soft after topping FP4 with a 2m04.028s on a hard rear tyre.
After setting a time of 2m03.720s on his first tyre, which he claimed was already problematic, he was a second slower on the second fresh soft he used at the end of Q2, and could only finish 10th, while Ducati teammate Francesco Bagnaia scorched to a third-straight pole.
Miller has suffered with rear tyre grip on Saturday afternoons this season, as have many others. His wrath was barely veiled, even though he wouldn’t directly blame Michelin’s rubber for the problem.
“I have a hard tyre on in FP4, I can do two tenths off the lap time I put down in qualifying, and I can do a 2m02.9s in FP3,” Miller said when asked to explain his Q2 slump. “So, I don’t know. It wasn’t through a lack of trying, I can tell you that. We know [it’s a repeating issue].”
When asked why this appears to be affecting him more than anyone else in 2021, he said: “Like you said, it’s happened a few times and I can tell you one thing I’m getting f***ing sick of it. Anyway, we go forwards, hopefully it doesn’t happen tomorrow.
“I’m trying my best, keeping calm, trying to do my job, working for the race. What’s in my control I’m trying to do the best I can.”
He later said: “Even though I want to, it’s not something we will comment on at this point. It’s just I wasn’t able to do what I was able to do, and that’s about it.
“I treated both runs equally, completely equal. I ran out of time on the last run, I would have tried to get one more lap at least to try and tidy something up. But didn’t have time, but apart from that as soon as I went on track I tried to push my maximum and it didn’t work.”
After qualifying, Michelin stated that initial analysis revealed Miller’s out-lap was 20 seconds slower than typical on his second run, which could have contributed to his problems.
“There was one complaint after Q2, but based on the immediately available data we note that there was a 20-second slower out-lap than normal for the 2nd run, so any perceived lack of performance could be attributed to the subsequent reduction in tyre temperature and pressure (which we need to confirm later after detailed data analysis) for the single time attack lap,” Michelin said.
“In addition, the biggest contribution to the lap time appeared to be the loss of 8 tenths of a second in sector 2. Run 1 was similar to Pecco’s first run in terms of lap times.”
Miller’s race pace in FP4 was strong, and he should take comfort in the knowledge that Andrea Dovizioso improved from 13th on the grid to fourth for Ducati in 2019.
“It’s not going to be the easiest race, but if you look to what Dovi did a couple of years back here, when we raced last, I think he was in Q1 and was able to come through fourth,” Miller said. “There were a few crashes and whatnot that day, but I feel like I’ve got good speed, good potential, I feel good on the bike.
“We just need to get away cleanly, which is the most difficult thing back there, especially with the Turn 1 like we have.
“Then for the rest just try the maximum to get in with those guys at the front and stay there.”
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