Jack Miller was pleased with his continued progress at Phillip Island on Wednesday as the Australian ended the first day of the official MotoGP test an impressive ninth fastest.
The 22-year old is continuing to test an engine, which features a revised (uneven-firing) configuration, which both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa sampled at the Valencia test in November before they moved on to an even newer spec, as well as chassis and fork updates.
The motor, he says, is a big improvement on what he raced in 2016. Not only is it smoother but it also allows him to focus on choosing the right lines, while the chassis that Cal Crutchlow used with great success in 2016's second half has also been a hit.
“I'm pretty happy with it,” said Miller. “Today we busted out some decent times. Also, we were really consistent and got a lot of laps under our belt. 83 laps and a lot of them were really good quality testing laps so I'm really happy with that. The bike seemed to work well.
“We had some new forks that we tested that was a really positive step. We tried a few things as well, like a narrower front rim – something that Yamaha have been playing around with for a while and it seemed to work pretty good too. I'm definitely pretty happy with today's test.
“Tomorrow I think we've got a few tyre tests to do. We're just working on geometry at the moment, seeing what's working and what's not working. It was a bit hectic today with the wind but it's been fun. I enjoy riding around here.”
On the chassis, he said, “I've ridden the thing in Valencia, Jerez, Sepang and now here. Everywhere I've been, I've enjoyed it. I'm really liking that [chassis] direction. And the forks added onto it today, I mean I'm even happier again. I'm really happy.”
Asked to specify the engine he is testing Miller continued, “It's that one [he tested in Jerez in November]. They've got another version that's a bit lighter. But our one is very smooth.
“I enjoy riding it but I think they [HRC] are trying to work for something a bit more – maybe a bit more horsepower or something like that. Theirs [The Repsol riders] is a little bit of a different spec so we'll be getting that one in Qatar hopefully.
“I mean, I notice it [the new engine configuration] here really a lot. Especially in turn ten to eleven where you've got two shifts and the change of direction at the same time. It definitely feels a lot better there, you know?
“It's just a smoother engine and seems a lot more user-friendly. It's more calm for the rider and you can focus more on hitting the lines rather than battling to keep the bike in a straight f**king position.”
Miller appeared trim at the test and is boasting a clean bill of health for the first time in over a year. On his physical condition Miller added, “I'm sitting 67-68 kilos. I'm feeling good and I've been training hard. I did a month in California, which was really good.
“Then since I've come home after Sepang I've been out every day on the pushbike, at the gym and doing a whole heap of s**t. It's keeping me busy and I'm enjoying it.
“I'm really enjoying my training at the moment and just loving everything at the moment. It feels good. I'm really highly motivated for the season.”