News 3 Oct 2023

Motegi a positive uplift for momentum-building Miller

Front row and sprint race podium battle highlights from Japanese round.

Image: Supplied.

The 14th round of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship saw Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Jack Miller deliver a solid weekend at Motegi, as momentum continues to rebuild for the Australian.

On Saturday in Japan, Miller fired in a 1m43.551s to qualify third fastest for the sprint and Sunday’s GP, with the number 43 holding a podium position for much of Saturday’s battle before ultimately he was relegated to fourth by championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team).

“That felt good,” stated Miller. “It was nice fighting with these boys. I ran into a little bit of an issue with the right side of the tyre, especially the front, and was struggling to stop the bike, so I was doing what I could to protect my position.

“Finally, I had a little moment at the bottom of the hill and that opened the door. Generally, the bike is working really well and I’m happy with the performance. If we could just tidy-up a few little things and also my riding can be a bit better then I think we can do a really top job tomorrow.”

Rainfall was a deciding factor in Sunday’s GP, with the majority of the field pitting for wet tyres at the end of the opening lap. Ultimately, conditions were deemed too severe and the race was red-flagged after 12 laps, and despite an attempt to have it restarted, the grand prix was never able to get back underway.

Following the switch to wet tyres, Miller was on the cusp of the top 10 but persevered to ultimately reach P6, where he was classified following the red flag. It marks his best grand prix result since round seven in Germany, but the determined RC16 rider wants more.

“Not the best day but also not the worst and I’m happy we finished. It took some time for the tires to get going in the first part and I managed to save the rubber while gaining some time on the guys as the rain started to fall harder,” Miller added. “We made a couple of tweaks to the bike to try and challenge those boys for the restart but it wasn’t meant to be today. Sixth place today but I wanted more.”

Prima Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin ultimately won both the sprint and Japanese GP from pole, as Miller is ninth in the 2023 MotoGP World Championship ahead of the next round at Mandalika, Indonesia, between 13-15 October.