Jack Miller got his 2016 MotoGP preparations off to a belated start during this week's Phillip Island test.
The young Australian, moving across from LCR to Marc VDS for his second premier-class season, was forced to sit out the opening test in Sepang due to a broken lower leg in a motocross accident.
Miller's return saw him set the 15th fastest lap time, albeit just 0.892s from friend and Suzuki pace setter Maverick Vinales, while learning the latest Michelin tyres and unified ECU software.
“Considering the foot and everything, it went well,” Miller declared. “Still struggling a little bit with the front end, that's for sure. Had a little bit better feeling, starting to get comfy with it.
“The new electronics seem to be working better than what I had last year [on the Open Honda], so I'm pretty happy about that. It's just so much better on acceleration and the way that the traction control cuts. Everything is a lot smoother, it's just a lot nicer to ride, that's for sure.
“Just a couple more days on the bike with decent weather would definitely help, working and testing a few more things. I think we're going to get that in the Qatar test.”
Miller's only hiccup was a minor final day fall.
“Just had a moment in the straight and didn't have brakes, because it pushed the pads back in the calipers. Went into Turn 6, ran into the gravel and just had to lay it over because the wall was coming close.
“But a good test. I'm pretty happy with how everything went and looking forward to Qatar to get the new bike, hopefully it'll make some difference, but I'm not expecting a miracle.”
Miller has been testing with a 2015 bike, but the satellite Hondas should get their 2016 race package next time out.
Chief engineer Cristian Gabarrini added: “We made a lot more progress than we expected here at Phillip Island. We were unsure of Jack's physical condition following his injury, but in the end he had good endurance, completing more than 50 laps yesterday and almost 40 more today. This was a good test, with Jack setting his fastest time right at the end today, on a tyre that had already done ten laps. Having missed the Sepang test this was Jack's first time on the latest Michelin tyres and we think we've found something here that can help him get the best from them, so we're really satisfied with the test.”
Miller's rookie team-mate Tito Rabat escaped injury in both a final day fall at the fearsome Turn 1 and a later low-speed tumble at Honda Corner. The Spaniard's best time was 0.096s slower than Miller.
“I've learnt a lot here at Phillip Island, both in the wet and the dry, so I'm happy about that. I had two crashes today; one big one at turn one and one small one at turn four, but even these had a positive aspect. The fact that I crashed, but was able to get back on the bike and improve again was good for my confidence,” said the former Moto2 champion.
“Now I understand a little better the Honda RC213V and the Michelin tyres, but there is still a lot of work to be done. For me it is important we make improvements step-by-step, rather than being pushed into trying to run before we can walk and risking the consequences of a big crash. I leave Phillip Island happy and I can't wait to get back on the bike in Qatar.”